When the Adults Change, Everything Changes

Paul Dix

Adolescence comprises a significant period of growth and identity development unlike any other. Teenagers are known to push limits and boundaries, which can be frustrating at times, but serves the essential function of developing their own values, beliefs, and sense of self.

When the Adults Change, Everything Changes captures some of the challenges of adolescence, placing the message of ‘visible consistency’ in schools at its centre. It is a practical guide, liberally sprinkled with illustrative case studies and anecdotes, to help schools change ingrained, undesirable behaviours from students.

The most important thing to note is that this is not a behaviour management guide, but rather a book that shows that when adults in school work together consistently, pupil behaviour stabilises. It starts with the premise that many Behaviour Policies in schools are outdated, based on punitive sanctions which just escalate if they do not work and create additional pressures for everyone without achieving the desired atmosphere in schools.

The book contains many humorous, real-life examples of how seemingly insurmountable behaviour issues have been resolved, in different types of schools, by the addition of a few simple rules applied consistently. The book’s author, Paul Dix, also offers scripted intervention ideas that can easily be used in your own setting.


After I saw Dix speak, I felt inspired to buy the book immediately and bought a couple for our staffroom. Engaging from the start, the book combines sound advice with practical strategies to implement them successfully.

As a school leader, the idea of good behaviour stemming from a positive place rather than a fear of punishment not only resonated with my own values but there is much evidence that it is a successful strategy.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that the author clarifies that he is not suggesting that adults take the blame for difficult behaviour in schools, rather that they have the ability to respond in ways which are more effective at getting the results we want. His appraisal of Behaviour Policies from various schools with whom he has worked, serves to open the reader’s eyes to some of the mistakes we can all make when trying to nurture a culture of positive behaviour. Better yet, he shows how to turn this around very quickly and creatively.


Regardless of your own working environment and the behaviour challenges you face, I’d really recommend this book. As the head teacher quoted on the front cover states ‘Paul Dix gets it. After reading this book, you will too’. I completely agree. Five stars.

Most memorable quote

‘An emotionally led response to bad behaviour should always be resisted… great teachers recognise the counter-intuitive and shift their behaviour to achieve the best outcome for everyone.’

If you liked this, you might also enjoy…

Hacking School Discipline: 9 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy and Responsibility Using Restorative Justice by Nathan Maynard. I’m only part way through this but it discusses similar principles which will help all who work with young people to think differently.