There’s almost a magical reason why mascots work so well in PBIS programs. Use a tiger as an example. The moment a child says “I am a tiger,” a part of their self-image is transformed into the tiger. How they perceive the tiger, is how they perceive themselves. Own the tiger and you own very valuable real estate in the child’s mind. It’s human nature to act consistently with one’s self-image. Control the tiger, and you control the magic!
The school is a community of tigers, and like all groups, there are expectations associated with being in the group, or being a tiger. When you control the tiger, you control the expectations, which to a great extent affects behavior.
Wanting to be accepted as part of a group; to have friends, and enjoy the benefits of relationships, is a powerful motivating factor for all, especially children who are learning social skills. Structuring the behavior expectations for the community of tigers gives the children a clear road map towards success by highlighting what works within the social framework of the group.
Words that create visuals are easier to comprehend than words that don’t. For example, the word “tiger” creates a visual, whereas the word “respect” does not. However, if you show a picture of a tiger “respecting” property by putting a basketball away in its proper place, then you have a visual way of explaining the more obscure concept of “respect.”
Positive peer pressure is at work in the community of tigers. Having a clearly articulated set of positive behavior expectations helps students guide, mentor and lead each other down positive paths.
Encouraging a child to think, “What would a good tiger do?” when confronting difficult circumstances, can lead to better decision making and resulting outcomes. Not every child is lucky enough to have positive role models outside the school. A tiger that consistently demonstrates positive behavior can equip a child with a set of social navigation tools that can serve them well through life.
Control the tiger, and you control a vital part of the child. Make the tiger a bigger part of the child’s life, and you have bigger impact. Create a tiger culture, and promote tiger pride. Give students a shining example of positive behavior that will guide and inspire them for the rest of their lives.