Although this seems quite straightforward and most students should be able to offer several choices of actions, the fact is that many students do not know what alternatives are available to them. Many can act in very mature ways in some circumstances, but act many years younger in others. Adults need to be very aware that students are often placed in situations where they have little or no experience. Some might be assaulted, robbed, or devastated that a boyfriend or girlfriend ended a relationship and they are totally at a loss of how to handle it.
In using problem solving, principals and teachers can provide the needed knowledge and skill to help these students learn to handle new and different situations. Other students can also provide a variety of alternatives that are acceptable to those of the particular age group. The key is to not only provide another alternative, but as many as possible. This proves to the student that his or her earlier choice was one of many - certainly not the only one.
In some cases students cite their parents or other influential persons who told them what they should do if a particular situation arose. "If someone hits you, hit them back" or "If someone is picking on you, tell the teacher" and a host of other orders given to students. These students feel they have done what they were told but now are in trouble at school. These situations need to be handled very professionally without demeaning parents or other significant persons in the student's life. In many cases, principals simply state" That is fine and you should follow your parent's advice when at home, but that alternative is not acceptable in school." At the very least, "We want to teach you other alternatives."