Charlie Brown attends a school in which students are instructed explicitly on pro-social skills. There is a behavioral curriculum in place, established, implemented and accepted by all educational staff and supported by parents. When behavioral problems do occur, his school has a system of support in place to address them.
Charlie's younger sister, Sally, attends a different school in which there are no explicit behavioral expectations. Students are not taught what behaviors are expected of them at school. Unlike at her brother’s school, Sally's pro-social, positive behaviors are not recognized. There is no clear incentive or direct impact for following the rules, which are unclear to begin with.
Which student may be more behaviorally successful? Which student may have better long-term life outcomes? Which school likely has a more welcoming climate, which supports students’ successes rather than relying solely on punishment? What if all schools could routinely teach pro-social skills to support the social and emotional well-being and success of all students?
The primary goal of our educational system is to help children develop academic, social and life skills. Many social and behavioral factors, such as lack of proactive behavior management, can stand in the way of reaching this goal. In fact, managing problematic behaviors can be one of the greatest challenges in both home and school settings.
In schools, valuable instructional time can be lost due to disruptive and aggressive behaviors, which are the most common reasons for office disciplinary referrals, suspensions and expulsions. Behavioral difficulties can impact a child in the home setting, too. Behavior problems at home can negatively affect children’s relationships with their caregivers and siblings, as well as their self-esteem or self-identity.