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Behavior Model Series

Part III: The Secondary Needs

There are eight secondary needs, and it is within these needs that children can be motivated to study and learn as well as behave in appropriate rather than inappropriate ways.

The primary needs discussed in the last blog post precede the possibility of motivating kids to behave properly. The secondary needs are the motivators themselves. There’s no way a teacher can effectively get students to be disciplined without an awareness of—and effort toward appealing to—the secondary needs.

Where Teacher Influence in Changing Behavior Really Beings

Also called derived needs, they are psychological and, most important to a teacher, learned. It’s the secondary needs that motivate people to reach for goals, good or bad, and raise their self-concept—by our standards or theirs. Many times, the problem is that rather than fill these needs for students, we fight them. Worse, we may try to deny fulfillment of these needs and think such action is good. Yet, to be successful, one must search for the individual need—and then try to fill it in a positive, constructive, and appropriate ways. The secondary needs are:

Gregariousness, Aggression, Affiliation, Inquisitiveness, Achievement, Power, Status, and Autonomy

Secondary Need One: Gregariousness

This is the need to associate with a group—to be in the “inner circle.” It’s revealed as a strong need by those students who are always organizing something, coming to your room after school, keep you informed, and asking continually if they can help you. If you fulfill their need, you will motivate them effectively. If you don’t, students will form their own structure or look elsewhere to meet this need.

Secondary Need Two: Aggression

This is the need to assert. Children are revealing a strong assertive need when they pester you about a new plan, want to do things that aren’t in the book, or fight authority. The “stand up, sit down, raise your hand” teacher who never offers variety drives these students crazy.

Secondary Need Three: Affiliation

Affiliation is the need we have to be “close” to the boss, peers, or the school. Students who join every club, participate frequently in class discussion, and volunteer continually have a strong affiliation need. Take a close look at friendship and gang associations. Some kids would do “anything” to get into, or remain in, a gang. they have a need for affiliation.

Secondary Need Four: Inquisitiveness

The reason we always need to tell certain student what we’re going to do is to meet their need of inquisitiveness. This need is also demonstrated by students who question everything, shoot holes in plans, or want you to look at everything they do. If you don’t or won’t tell these students the “whys,” you’ll turn them off.

Secondary Need Five: Achievement

This is the need to succeed—and to be recognized for achievement. Those students who are always tooting their own horns, want grades posted, and seek constant approval have strong achievement needs. A close look will reveal that many kids meet their achievement needs by telling us all the bad things they have done and are going to do.

Secondary Need Six: Power

Power is one of the stronger motivators. People want a measure of control over their lives. Students are not the exception. Therefore, if you try to dominate students, many will fight you. Likewise, some students get power by being bullies or teasing, bossing, or controlling younger students.

Secondary Need Seven: Status

Everybody wants to be a somebody. Students who reveal a strong status need include those who brag as well as those who are easily insulted, get mad when the class is punished because of a classmate, and want to know information before others do. The need for status is our individualism revealed, and it is a powerful force in some students.

Secondary Need Eight: Autonomy

Autonomy is the need to have your own way. It’s the need to have input. A close look will reveal that studies indicate all students do better in school if they determine their own goal to some extent and are involved in the decision-making process.

These eight psychological needs must never be ignored. They are the key to both individual and group motivation. Without giving these needs attention, we may find that orders, commands, and demands are necessary to achieve our every desire in the classroom. Failure to aim our teaching toward individual human needs leads to big misconceptions. We tend to believe that teaching is telling. It is not. All of our students are products of their environment and experiences—past, present, and anticipated. That’s why needs are the first cause to consider when our teaching is being ignored or rejected.

We can begin by looking at our students individually. Then, we may try to determine which needs individual students most want fulfilled. By using these needs as positive motivators, we may begin our most successful efforts in handling misbehavior. Therefore, our task is to find the need—and fill it.

To learn more about the most common misbehavior’s, read the next post.

This blog post is excerpted from the book Before You Can Discipline

Thought for the Week

AI can teach and share knowledge, sure, but it lacks the key elements of human modeling, nurturing, and connecting that are essential components of a comprehensive learning process.

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