Saturday, 19 December 2015

Rational Emotive Behaviour Education - dealing with disappointment healthily

There’s two students in the yard (kids 1 and 2). They’re playing one on one basketball. 

A game of one on one
Another person (3) approaches and asks to join in. He’s told as it’s a one on one game so another player isn’t needed. He waits a while and moves on. Another child comes by (4) and asks the same question and the basketball players say it’s a one on one and another player is not required. This is said respectfully and assertively to the third person. The news is not received well. This student (4) goes into a rage and throws their basketball away which ultimately comes to the notice of the teacher on yard duty. Student 4 is asked to sit out and is talked to for his behaviour.

Something happened in the lives of Kid 3 and Kid 4. They were both declined their request to join in the basketball game with 1 and 2. This is called the activating event, situation A.

So A = they didn’t let me join in.

Person 3 Felt OK about this. It (A) probably rated a 2 on the emotional thermometer. A little upset and disappointed perhaps, still in control. No hard feelings. He moved on after a while. No big deal.


Person 4 felt angry. It (A) rated an 8 on the emotional thermometer. It was a big deal. Catastrophic even. He made some average behavioural choices and was taken to task for it.


Did the situation (A) make the children do and feel as they did? If this was the case surely they would feel and act the same way? But we know person 3 was calm and person 4 was angry so A didn’t make their feelings and behaviours. We will call feelings and behaviours C i.e. the emotional and behavioural Consequence of A.

Person 3 said to another student that they didn’t let him join in. They were playing one on one. Three would be too many and that’s OK. This person accepted the situation calmly.

The emotional thermometer
Person 4 said to another student the kids wouldn’t let him join in. They made him angry. It was their fault!

Why the difference? Kid 3 is OK and kid 4 spat the dummy! What’s going on here?


According to REBT (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy) theory kids 3 and 4 have constructed contrasting philosophical perspectives. They have different thinking rules. We will call these thinking rules B for beliefs. What are they?

Kid 3 we would speculate has the following philosophical rule:

I don’t always have to get my. It’s rarely a catastrophe when I don’t. I can handle disappointments.

We would say that is a rational/reasonable/helpful/healthy view.

Kid 4 we would suggest according to REBT theory has the following philosophical rule:

I must always get my way. It’s a catastrophe when I don’t. It’s not fair and I can’t stand it!

We would say that is an irrational/unreasonable/unhelpful/unhealthy view.

Rational Emotive Behaviour Education teaches students that thinking feeling and behaving are interconnected and that people’s experience of a situation emotionally and behaviourally is linked to their beliefs; their thinking rules.

According to REBT Kid 3 has the following perspective on life:

A + B = C where he will account for how he feels and behaves not solely as a consequence of A but my thinking B (me) has a lot to do with it.

According to REBT Kid 4 has the following perspective on life:

A=C When A happens IT (A) makes my feelings and behaviours. It's is not my fault!


One kids way of looking at things is healthy and the others is not so.


The ABC Theory of Emotional Disturbance was created by Albert Ellis and is a very useful teaching tool.



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