- An incident occurs (frustration, failure, etc.) that ACTIVATES a troubled student’s irrational beliefs (e.g., “Nothing good ever happens to me,” “Adults are unfair!”), which in turn defines it as a stressful incident
- These negative beliefs and thoughts determine and TRIGGER the intensity of the student’s feelings.
- These intense feelings – not the student’s rational forces – DRIVE his or her inappropriate behaviors.
- The inappropriate behaviors (yelling, threatening, sarcasm, refusing to speak) INCITE adults.
- Adults not only pick up the student’s feelings, but also they frequently MIRROR the student’s behaviors (yell back, threaten, etc.).
- These negative adult REACTIONS increase the student’s level of stress, escalating the conflict into a self-defeating crisis.
- Although the student may lose this battle (i.e., he or she is punished), the student wins the war! His or her SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY (irrational belief about adults) is REINFORCED. Therefore, the student has no motivation to change or alter the irrational beliefs or the inappropriate behaviors.