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Behaviour management strategies – Closed choice

close-up photo of main in suit tossing a coin

Students reluctant to heed your instructions? Have them choose between that or something they DEFINITELY won’t want to do…

Robin Launder
by Robin Launder
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When it comes to dealing with misbehaviour, you may well find it useful to present students with a closed choice.

That is, a choice where one of the options you give them is plainly going to result in a more favourable outcome all round, compared to the other:

Chloe, do you want to do the maths questions now, or during break?

Adriana, would you like to stand here next to me during break, or would you prefer to play kindly with Alice?

Faisal, would you like to help Peter tidy the work area now, or would you like to do it at the end of the lesson on your own?

If Chloe chooses not to do the maths questions now; if Adriana choices not to play kindly with Alice; or if Faisal chooses not to help Peter tidy the work area, then you must duly go ahead with enacting the less favourable option – even if the outcome is ultimately less favourable for you as well. (Spending the break with Chloe, for example.)

Closed choice is a strategy that definitely works – but only if you actually mean what you say and follow through on the consequences.

Robin Launder is a behaviour management consultant and speaker; find more tips in his weekly Better Behaviour online course – see for details

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