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A pause for thought can…

A pause for thought can make all the difference in handling inappropriate behaviour. For everyone involved. Too often it is tempting to fall into a mental trap that speed and urgency is good. Let's just get it over with and move on. That fails to take into account people need time to think about their actions.
Let us say that a young person is playing around with friends and uses some inappropriate language in the conversation. If this is an issue that needs to be changed jumping in and saying so is good, something like "that type of language is not acceptable around here". However, to create a chance for the young person to think about the behaviour some lead in time can help.

Lead in time is about creating the conditions where they have to take 5-10 seconds to think about what you want to talk about. You might say "hey, can I talk to you about your behaviour?" This will focus them and you might even move them a short distant way from where they were. During this time they will be thinking about what they have done and you can then discuss it. It can also give you a change to work out what you want to say.

During the discussion using pauses so you are not always talking can help them reflect as well. Known as tactical pauses you might make your point then wait for a few seconds. It is amazing how long 5 seconds can feel for the person and again it can give you time to think about your next comment. Sometime the pause is really powerful - "I am just really disappointed in this behaviour, I just don't know what to say" - and emphasises the point.

If you ask a question then it is respectful to wait for an answer. Don't rush ahead, give people time to respond. They are more likely to reflect on what they have done if you make them do so with a question than talking at them for 5 minutes. Some questions are going to be hard to answer like "why did you do that?" Wait and give them some time then maybe offer them a lifeline when they cannot answer. "Perhaps you didn't stop and think about what you should have done?" Or you might suggest "you think about that some more as I want you to work out ways to stop that behaviour happening again." It might not be that any answer is necessary because all you want is the process of reflection to occur.

Don't be in a rush to deal with inappropriate behaviour all the time. Give yourself and them time to think.
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