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Student Challenges



We know how much resistance and opposition in students can make teaching challenging. By shedding light on the developmental science behind this behaviour, we will make sense of the role of counterwill and its dynamic, which in turn will help us make the shift necessary. We will also offer you practical suggestions which can be used in your classroom.

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The child who is Resistant Webinar

CLICK HERE to play recording

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The Child Who is Resistant

 Presentation Handout

CLICK HERE to download this document in pdf format

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EDITORIAL: Why Kids Resist and What We Can Do About It

Deborah MacNamara

If there is one thing you can count on when you are a parent is that your child will be resistant and oppositional at some point. For example, Sam is a ten year old who rolls his eyes when told to lay the table and help with dinner. Meghan is a seven year old who erupts in verbal attack when told to clean up her room. 

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The Surprising Secret Behind Kid’sResistance and Opposition

Deborah MacNamara

Why is it that young children can lock down in protest at the mere suggestion of getting dressed or undressed? Why do school-age kids seem to resist directions and expectations when homework needs to get done? Why do some teens oppose and rail against rules and limits around technology use, driving them to push back at parents?


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The Counterwill Storm: Making Sense of Adolescent Resistance

Darlene Denis-Friske

Anytime I am working with the parents of adolescents, I am always excited to share insight about the pivotal concept of “counterwill” in the context of healthy development. Understanding this concept can make a tremendous difference in understanding our teenagers, especially when we feel confused or worried about their tendency to push back. First coined at the turn of the century by Viennese psychoanalyst Dr. Otto Rank , this concept has been further developed and refined by Dr. Gordon Neufeld. Simply put, counterwill is our instinctive reaction to resist, oppose, or push back when we experience a feeling of force or coercion greater than our ability to manage it, and greater than our desire to cooperate or comply. 


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The Five Things Master Teachers Know and Do

Deborah MacNamara

What is the difference between a great teacher and a master teacher? After years of hiring and working with teachers, along with decades of experience in the classroom, I am convinced there are a few tangible things that set these groups apart. Here are the five things I have learned from being a teacher and watching master teachers in action.


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