Youngsters tend to deny their actions if they do not realize that an admission could be in their own best interest.


Encourage the pupil to admit to his wrongdoing. If he denies what he has done, identify what he fears would happen if he did confess. Sympathize with his apprehensions, but help him realize that admiting and taking responsibility is a better alternative for everyone than denying the action.


Pupil:

It wasn't me. And there were others too.

Teacher:

Would it be a bad thing if it came out that you were one of them?

Pupil:

Of course.

Teacher:

How come? What would happen?

Pupil:

Others would also get caught and I would be accused of telling.

Teacher:

I understand. You want to protect your friends. No wonder you don't feel like going into detail. But you know what? I think that if you do tell the whole story, it will be better in the long run, not only for you, but for the others too.

Pupil:

How come?

Teacher:

Let's think about what good may come out of it. What positive things would happen if you, and also the others, told the truth about what happened?

 

When a person has done something wrong, he often tries to deny his action. Denial is caused by the fact that the person is afraid the confession would lead to adverse consequenses. One can promote admissions by refraining from pressuring the person. Instead, a conversation is carried out in which the question of what would happen should the person admit is investigated. When the person speaks about his fears about what would happen should he confess to his actions, it becomes possible for the outsider to understand his motives for denial. When the teacher expresses understanding as to why it is far from easy for the youngster to speak fully about the incident, it become possible to open up a discussion about the specific fears involved in denial. Some of the fears may be unfounded, others may be exaggerated. When also the issue of the benefits of telling the truth are discussed, the possibility for preferring admission over denial becomes a more attractive option for the child.

Admission is the first step in the process of taking responsibility for one's action. It is the door which leads to the alternative for the child to atone and make up for the infraction and to restore his damaged reputation.

Admission is best seen as a process which consists of several phases. In the first phase, admission is tentative and cautious. In the final phase, however, admissions are frank and honest.

To begin with, the pupil may not admit to anything, although he may be willing to discuss what has happened, and what consequences there would be if it were revealed that he is guilty. In the next phase, he may actually admit to you what he has done, even if he refuses to discuss details. Finally, he agrees to discuss specifics of what happened, but true owning up only takes place when he is willing to speak about what he has done not only with you, but in the presence of other people as well.

The pupil can be helped to own up to his wrongdoing by discussing with him what would happen if he was to confess. Admission may be far easier for the pupil if he can see in front of him a way out - such as the steps of responsibility as discribed on these pages.

Example
A boy had missed school and upon his return had given his teacher a note which was puportedly signed by his mother. The note said that the child had been ill. The teacher later met with the mother who informed her that she had not written any such note. She in fact had no knowledge of her sons whereabouts on the days he had been missing from school. When the teacher talked to the boy again, he denied having forged his mother's signature and argued that his mother must have forgotten having written the note. Instead of trying to prove the boy that he was lying, the teacher started asking the boy what he thought would happen if it came out that he had falsified his mother's signature. It turned out that the boy was afraid that his parents would be informed, that they would become angry and punish him by taking away his mountain bike. The teacher discussed various alternatives with the boy, weighing the benefits and the drawbacks of admiting and denying. When the boy realised that his parents would be informed in any case, he came to the conclusion that it would be better for him to take the issue up with his mother, and after that also with his father.


Next Step
The child can admit to his wrongdoing without understanding why what he did was wrong. That is why it is of importance that the child also shows that he understands what the negative consequences of his actions are. That will be discussed next under the heading "Understand".

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