The Five Stages of Grief (in 30 seconds)

Posted on June 1, 2010Filed Under Seventh Grade Behavior | Leave a Comment

Middle schoolers are like drama queens with Alzheimer’s.

“ZOMG, the world’s going to end if I (don’t)…

(the next day/period) “Are you OK? You were pretty upset.”

“What?”

Every “crisis” is like a terminal illness or an impending death. Whether that crisis is personal or school related, or simply a perceived rather than actual crisis, the reaction usually follows the classic five stages of grief pattern. And most of the time, they can squeeze it all in in less than 30 seconds

(Aside: I was just reading that many researchers say that the whole stages of grief thing is a myth, that the research doesn’t prove it out. Well, that doesn’t make a very good story, now does it?)

I could take an example from almost any day, but right now we have a perfect one being played out nicely. Today was their first attempt to pass the YEE (Year End Essentials) test.

Denial.

“What? You can’t do that! You wouldn’t really flunk me, would you? I have a B-. OMG! You wouldn’t really do that would you?”

“Yes. I would. But nobody has ever flunked just because of this.I’ve given plenty of F’s, but none of them was just because of this.  Of course, there’s always a first time.”

“Nooooo!”

Anger.

“It’s not fair!” (Always the fall-back position.)

“And your point is? I’m trying to help make sure you’re not one of those morons on the street that Jay Leno makes fun of for being so ignorant.”

Bargaining.

“C’mon. We’ll be good for the rest of the year.”

“Yes, you will. But that’s going to happen anyway.”

“What if we all get an A on the test Friday?”

“That would be nice, although highly unlikely. And it wouldn’t change anything.”

“Please?! Can’t we just get 90% instead of 100? Can’t we do it in parts? Can’t we…?”

They sound like Eckels at the end of  “A Sound of Thunder.”

Depression.

“I’m gonna flunk this. I just know it. I’ll be the first one ever.”

“Stop. You’ll be fine. You get 10 tries.”

“I’ll probably need 11.”

“Actually one guy did need 11 one year.”

“I’ll probably need 12. My dad’s gonna kill me.”

“That seems a little harsh.”

(Back in teacher school, they used to call this raising their level of anxiety.)

Acceptance.

“Fine. WHATever.”

Now, the model says that people may mix up the order, or move back and forth between stages. Nobody does that like middle schoolers. Like this:

Anger.

“It’s not fair.”

Depression.

“I’m gonna flunk this.”

Anger.

“It’s not fair.”

Repeat above 2-5X.

Acceptance.

“I think I did OK.”

Denial.

“I thought I did better than that! My clicker juked me!”

Anger.

“It’s not fair!”

Bargaining.

Can I do extra credit?”

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