In class councils, third graders each came up with examples of their own behaviors -- an expected behavior that they have most of the time, and an unexpected behavior that they have some of the time. After choosing their behaviors, they considered what others might think about them.
One of my favorite things about having kids learn about expected and unexpected behaviors is that it helps them understand that their behaviors are separate from who they are. Unfortunately, sometimes when kids do things that others don't like, break rules, or fail to follow directions, they think of themselves as "bad" or "stupid" or that the person who is unhappy with their behavior just doesn't like them. This can lead to feelings of shame, and avoidance or lashing out, rather than addressing the behavior. However, when they look at their behavior just in itself, they are better able to identify the behavior as a mistake that they can fix. They can see that it is my behavior and not me that people don't like. Telling a child, "Yelling is unexpected. I am noticing that people are having uncomfortable thoughts. What can you do so that they have comfortable thoughts about you?" helps them move toward changing their behavior.
The third graders did a great job being honest and matter of fact about their unexpected behaviors. No one needed help identifying one -- no one felt shamed! Their ideas about what people might think were spot on. I was so proud of them!
Here is some of their insightful work: