Instead of looking at students with emotional disabilities or behavior concerns in a negative light, try looking at them through the lens of resilience.
Resilience (n): 1. The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy.
In my experience, the majority of students with emotional disabilities have been through horrific experiences that we can only imagine. They have been resilient to the misfortune in their lives. Many have suffered or have been witness to repeated abuse or tragedy. It is this experience that often shapes their behavior. They use these skills (arguing, refusal, aggression) to control what they can and maintain some sense of order. In other words, these kids are survivors. These students had to be resilient in order to survive.
Here's another take on resilience:
“The ability to rebound from adversity strengthened and more
resourceful. It is an active process of endurance, self-righting and growth in response to crisis and challenge.”
- Dr. Froma Walsh
I believe that this is where we, as educators, can have the most impact on our students. We can help them to utilize their power in a different way. We can help them to focus their negative energy into something positive. However, it is almost impossible to think that these students can do this on their own. They need to be lead in a positive direction and shown why using more positive actions can be just as positive and commanding as negative ones. These students have remarkable strength.
To be continued...