PHILOSOPHER: The third stage of problem behaviour. Here, their goals plunge into ‘power struggles’. YOUTH: Power struggles? PHILOSOPHER: Yielding to no one, repeated provocation and challenging to battle. By winning that battle, each one tries to make a show of his own might. Each one tries to gain a privileged position. This is a quite tough stage. YOUTH: What do you mean by challenging to battle? They don’t actually start hitting each other, do they? PHILOSOPHER: In a word, it is ‘resistance’. They provoke their parents and teachers and swear at them with foul language. Sometimes they become enraged and violent, or run around engaging in shoplifting and smoking cigarettes and the like, and they will break rules without a second thought. YOUTH: Well, they’re real problem children. Yes, these are exactly the sort of kids I feel helpless dealing with. PHILOSOPHER: Passive children, on the other hand, will challenge one to a power struggle through disobedience. No matter how much they are rebuked with stern words, they will refuse to engage in their studies or lessons. They will pretend to ignore the words of the adults. They don’t particularly want to study, but they don’t feel that study is unnecessary, either. It is simply that they want to prove their own might by being resolutely disobedient. YOUTH: Ah, it’s infuriating just imagining it! There’s no way to handle such problem children other than by yelling at them! They really are breaking the rules, and it makes me want to just give ’em a good smack. Because if I don’t, I’m essentially condoning their misdeeds. PHILOSOPHER: Right. Many parents and teachers will take hold of this racquet of anger and hit back the ball of reprimand. The thing is, that is nothing other than giving in to the provocation of the other and standing on the same court with them. They will be only too glad to return the next ball of resistance. Because the rally they have set up has begun. YOUTH: So, what can be done about it? PHILOSOPHER: If there is a legal issue, then it must be dealt with in a legal manner. With any other power struggle, however, get off their court as soon as you detect it. That’s the only thing you should do right away. Consider that even without making reprimands, just by looking like you’re about to get angry, you will end up standing on the court of the power struggle. YOUTH: But what if there’s a student doing something bad right in front of me? What do I do about this reality? Is an educator someone who just leaves the student alone and doesn’t do anything?
    PHILOSOPHER: I am sure there is a single logical conclusion, but it would be better to wait until I have explained all five stages and to think it over together. YOUTH: Ugh, how annoying. Next! PHILOSOPHER: The fourth stage of problem behaviour. Here, the person plunges into the stage of ‘revenge’. YOUTH: Revenge? PHILOSOPHER: He had made up his mind to enter a power struggle, but it was beyond his ability. He is unable to win a victory or gain a privileged position. He is snubbed by others and suffers defeat. Having lost the battle in this way, the person withdraws temporarily and then plots revenge. YOUTH: Who does he take revenge on, and for what? PHILOSOPHER: He takes love’s revenge on those who would not recognise the irreplaceable ‘me’, on those who would not love him. YOUTH: Love’s revenge? PHILOSOPHER: Please remember. Demand for admiration, attention drawing and power struggles. All these are expressions of the lovestarved feeling that says, ‘I want you to have greater regard for me.’ The thing is, the moment that a person realises his longing for love will not be fulfilled, he does an about-face and begins to look for hate. YOUTH: Why? What is the point of looking for hate?
    PHILOSOPHER: I realise now that they aren’t going to love me. If that’s how it’s going to be, then hate me. Pay attention to me, within that emotion of hatred. This is the kind of thing they think. YOUTH: Their wish is to be hated? PHILOSOPHER: That is what happens. Take, for example, the children of the third stage who oppose their parents and teachers and challenge them to power struggles. In the classroom, they have a chance of becoming minor heroes. Of being celebrated for their courage to stand up to authority and to adults. But children who plunge into the stage of revenge are not celebrated by anyone. Hated and feared by their parents and teachers, and even their classmates, little by little they become isolated. Even so, they try to connect to others through that one point, of being hated. YOUTH: If that’s how it is, we should just pretend to ignore them! Just break that point of contact, which has become hate. Because there won’t be any need for revenge that way. We can figure out some other, more sensible approach, can’t we? PHILOSOPHER: That might work in theory. But in reality, it is quite difficult to tolerate their conduct. YOUTH: Why is that? Are you saying that I don’t have the patience for it? PHILOSOPHER: With children in the power struggles stage, for example, they will challenge one to battle head-on, fair and square. Their provocations, which bristle with abusive language, are directly related to their sense of justice. That is why they may be seen as  heroes by their classmates. It is possible to deal with this kind of provocation in a calm way. With children in the stage of revenge, on the other hand, one does not choose to fight them directly. They are not planning to do bad things. They are just repeating things that other people don’t like. YOUTH: Could you give me a concrete example? PHILOSOPHER: An obvious one would be what is known as stalking behaviour, which is a typical form of revenge. It is love’s revenge, aimed at the person who would not love you. People who become stalkers are well aware that their target will not like their behaviour. And they are aware that good relations cannot come out of it. But they will still plot to connect in some way through hatred or dislike. YOUTH: What kind of unpleasant logic is that? PHILOSOPHER: Self-harm and social withdrawal are also considered to be within the realm of revenge in Adlerian psychology. By engaging in harm to oneself and injury to one’s worth, one accuses the other, saying, ‘It’s your fault I’ve ended up this way.’ Naturally, the child’s parents will worry, and it will be a heart-wrenching experience for them. From the child’s point of view, the revenge is succeeding. YOUTH: Well, we’re venturing into the domain of psychiatry now, aren’t we? Any other examples? PHILOSOPHER: While we often hear about cases that escalate to violence or abusive language, there are also many problem children who get involved with groups of delinquents or with organised crime. And with passive children, there are all kinds of methods of revenge, such as letting themselves get abnormally dirty or indulging in grotesque habits that are sure to arouse feelings of dislike in those around them. YOUTH: What should we do when confronted with such children? PHILOSOPHER: If there are students like this in your classroom, there is nothing you can do about it. Their goal is revenge on you. The more you try to give them a helping hand, the more their words and actions will escalate, as they will only see it as an opportunity for revenge. At this point, the only thing to do is request assistance from a completely outside party who has no vested interest whatsoever. In other words, you would have no choice but to turn to another teacher or to people outside the school—including specialists like me, for example. YOUTH: But if this is the fourth stage, there’s something beyond it, right? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. There is the final stage, which is even more troublesome than revenge. YOUTH: Please tell me. PHILOSOPHER: The fifth stage of problem behaviour is ‘proof of incompetence’. YOUTH: Proof of incompetence? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. Here, please try to think about it as if it were you yourself. Though you have taken all sorts of steps to assure that you will be treated as a special being, none of them is going as planned. Your parents and teachers, and even your classmates, are not hating you as you wish them to. You cannot find a ‘place to be’ in either the classroom or at home. What would you do, if this were you? YOUTH: I’d probably give up right away. Because no matter what I do, I can’t get anyone to acknowledge me. I guess I’d just stop making any effort at all. PHILOSOPHER: Still, your parents and teachers would lecture you that you need to study more, and they would start intervening in various things, such as your attitude in school and your relationships with friends. Because they want to help you, of course. YOUTH: It’s none of their business! If they could do it right, they could’ve done it a long time ago. I’d wish they wouldn’t care at all. PHILOSOPHER: You won’t be able to get them to understand that. The people around you want you to try harder. They know you can do things, and they are expecting you to change through your own work on yourself. YOUTH: What I’m saying is that sort of expectation is a big nuisance! I’d want them to leave me alone. PHILOSOPHER: That’s right, it’s that feeling of ‘Don’t expect anything more of me’ that connects to proof of incompetence. YOUTH: So what they’re saying is, ‘Don’t expect anything of me, because I’m incompetent’? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. They start to despair on life, they despise themselves from the bottom of their hearts and firmly believe that they can’t solve anything. So, in order to avoid experiencing any more despair, they try to run away from all their schoolwork. They are announcing to those around them, ‘This is how incompetent I am, so don’t give me any assignments. I don’t have the ability to complete them.’ YOUTH: They do this in order to not get hurt anymore? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. If they think, ‘Maybe I can do it’ when they undertake an assignment and then end up failing to complete it, they will wish they had decided ‘there’s no way I can do it’ at the outset and just given up. Because it would be easier that way, and there would be no worry of being further overcome with disappointment. YOUTH: . . . Well, I can understand the feeling. PHILOSOPHER: Then, by various means they try to prove how incompetent they are. They act as if they are utter fools, become lethargic about everything and stop trying to undertake even the easiest assignments. Eventually, they convince even themselves of being ‘me the fool’. YOUTH: It’s true that there are students who say they’re stupid. PHILOSOPHER: If they can put it into words, they are probably just making fun of themselves. With children who are really in the fifth stage, while they are acting like utter fools, they may appear to actually be suffering some mental illness. Whenever they find themselves trying to do their work or trying to think about things, they put on the brakes. And then they pessimistically reject their assignments and also reject the expectations of those around them.
    Wadifa Club
    writer and blogger, founder of Dog food planet .

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