Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy was developed by Dr. Albert Ellis in the 1950's. Educators are beginning to rethink how they address behaviour in schools. Slowly we are appreciating that if students are to learn how to better manage themselves emotionally and behaviourally more successfully then REBT has a lot to offer through RATIONAL EMOTIVE BEHAVIOUR EDUCATION
The ABC Theory of Emotional Disturbance
illustrates how feelings and behaviour at C are determined by what happens at A
and B i.e. what we believe (B) about what happens (A). This is an A+B=C
philosophy. What happens when our constructed view of ourselves equates to an
A=C way of believing e.g. failing at A makes me feel depressed at C and causes me to give up.
An A=C philosophy ‘If I fail at A I feel really bad at C 'it' (A) makes me angry and sad’ is problematic for our less resilient kids because they are unaware that constructed beliefs at B have a lot to do with it!
A is what happens e.g. 'someone has
rejected me!' and C is how I feel and act in response to A e.g. 'I feel really
sad because she has rejected me so I stay at home etc' The depth of despair and
how long it lasts will depend on how self accepting the person is.
If a child ‘needs’ the approval of others
he/she is at risk of depression, anger, anxiety because their psychological
well being depends on how others view them. We want students
to have such a strong sense of self-worth that rejection and failure will not
be as damaging as could otherwise be (What I think of me is more important that your view of me!)
Don't tell me your problems
It is easy to say 'you're OK no
matter what' but how do you demonstrate how this is true,
factual? Here are some strategies you can try!
1. Draw the outline of 3 people with one
full of pluses (+) one full of minuses (-) and one containing
both (more pluses of course). Discuss which best represents us i.e. are we
perfect, are we 'rubbish' or are we a composite of each? Does a negative
attribute take away all the positive ones? Does someones negative opinion of
you take away your positive attributes?
Don't let istakes define you
2. Let children know they are not their
behaviour. Tell them they can act badly but that doesn't make them bad.
3. Tell them that anothers opinion of
them does not mean they are that opinion i.e. they don't have to accept another
persons appraisal of them (refer to 1. above)
I think I can even if you don't
4. Always give behaviour specific feedback
and don't use global rating terms like naughty, bad, lazy etc.
5. Train yourself not to say 'good boy/girl.'
Why? Because they can choose good or bad behaviours but they are always
Rational Emotive Behaviour Education is taught at Para Hills School P-7. REBE helps students to develop a strong and healthy sense of self worth i.e. a confidence that is hard to shake especially when others disapprove of them/bully them. This a way to 'psychologically immunise' students against bullying.
Bully for You!
Do you think you have nothing
Use self-talk which is negative
And you don’t think you amount
Then I have just the thing for
Bully for you, bully for you
I have a bully for you!
I look for people to victimise
My admiring buddies think I’m
I like to see fear in your eyes
You deserve to suffer mate!
Bully for you, bully for you
I’m the bully for you.
I will persist, never let up
I don’t consider how you feel
My life’s work is to see you
You don’t matter; you’re no big
Bully for you, bully for you
I’m the bully for you!
We control our thoughts
We are what we perceive
We can choose to be powerless
Until we change what we believe
Victim for you, victim for you
Will I be the victim for you?
I’m a worthwhile person
I have qualities unique to me
We are all different from each
That makes us the same you see?
No, I will not allow you to
You don’t have my permission
I will not be your sporting
You are not the bully for me!
Bully for me, bully for me.
You are not the bully for me.
The cloak of silence
Is the bully’s best friend
So speak out, everybody
the cloak that’s specially tailored For you and for me!
Behaviour is linked to how we act and feel and Albert Ellis' ABC Theory of Emotional Disturbance is a useful tool to help us (teachers, counsellors, parents) understand what is 'making' that behaviour. Should ought and must believing characterise a mindset that generates extreme negative feelings and self defeating behaviours. These constructions have taken away the individuals ability to think and act independently. How? Conditioned to live up to the expectations of others may render the individual impotent, powerless and paralysed. Consider young Sharon who was brought up to be a good girl. Her parents told her that she should always 'be' polite and she should never 'be' impolite. Polite people were good and 'impolite' people were bad. Sharon strove to be a good girl and to please her parents who would tell her how good she was when she did good. You know the story. Sharon developed extreme anxiety about making mistakes and 'disappointing' others. She would often not attempt things if she thought there was a chance she could stuff up etc etc. All up Sharon danced to the beat of someone elses drum:
I must do well and achieve my goals
I must not offend, disappoint, let others down
I should always be polite
Others should treat me well; they're bad if they don't
..and the list goes on. Ellis coined some interesting turns of phrase like musturbation; the tendency to think in musts (and oughts and shoulds). Rational Emotive Behaviour Education helps children develop the ability to question and challenge what underlies the extreme unhelpful emotions and behaviours that conspire against them. Better to think in preferences like:
I'd prefer to reach my goals and succeed. (It's OK to try and fail I am not a failure).
I'd prefer others to approve of me and appreciate my qualities and capabilities. (It's OK for others to challenge and criticise my actions or other qualities. My worth is not at risk unless I believe it is!)
I'd like things to work out for me. (I expect that life will throw up challenges to me - that's how it goes!)
A habit of doing something is linked to a habit of thinking (believing) something. The habit of doing won't change until the habit of thinking that underlies it is changed. This can only be done if the students:
Know that thinking feeling and doing are connected
Know what they believe 'makes' them act and feel as they do
Work hard to replace their 'must' beliefs with 'preference' thinking