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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Improving behaviour?

Improving behaviour?

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14 Replies 2008 Views
I work in a kindergarten class with 19 students and 2 teachers, we are doing French immersion and about half the group understands French while the other half of them are beginners. It's now been a month since the term started and we are still having a lot of disturbances in the class. I have been reading the book "positive discipline for childcare centers" without much solace. We have a child in the class who has never been in a pre-school before starting kindergarten and who would climb up the curtains if left unsupervised. The child rolls around on the mat during circle time, screams in people's ears unprovoked and will just turn into spaghetti if you try to walk him over to his seat. He simply cannot stay in one spot during rest time, circle time or snack/lunch time. When you ask him to do something he will simply say/scream no but will usually comply after some whining and stomping his feet etc. The other day when he was rolling around in the circle making the entire group go wild with laughter I removed him and put him in the office with our director. He later came out and sat down to eat his afternoon snack perfectly still and quiet. However, the next day he does the same thing and when I go to get him from the office he tells me he likes it in there, and that he doesn't care about going back to the classroom. Does anyone have any advice on how to proceed? Our policy is not to do time out. The removal from the group seems like a logical consequence when the child is making it impossible to proceed normally and to manage the group. My hope was that he would want to return to his friends, to make him realize how boring it is not to be with his peers and to "want to belong" in the classroom. But if he doesn't have that motivation, it doesn't serve it's purpose. Perhaps he's just so smart that he knows to tell me he likes it in there, thinking I will not bring him back there. Every day I feel like I am failing. What can I do to improve this child's behaviour, seeing as how I am not supposed to reward or punish and no amount of calmly explaining what to do and how to behave seems to work. Asking him the what and how questions about his ideas for solutions for the problems we are having, usually results in him saying he doesn't want to be in school, that he should stay at home. I'm sure there are lots of very experienced teachers out there who have handled situations like this before, I would be incredibly grateful for your input. Thank you for reading,

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Mary Kate Land's picture
Mary Kate Land
Montessori 4-6th grade teacher
Blogger 2014

Treating disruptive behavior as a learning opportunity (as you've been doing) is a growth promoting strategy and is likley to enhance skills for children who are receptive to your teaching. This young man is not receptive. You may need the help of a mentor teacher to allow you to fully analyze the situation so that you can respond in a way that is the most appropriate when he puts on his displays. It can be oh so helpful to have an experienced teacher observe in your room without interacting, or being busy with other children. There may be cues that lead up to the behavior, or some other detail which hasn't been observed by you or your co-teacher.

Keep in mind that his difficulties may stem from much more than just inexperience. It's quite possible that he's been exposed to inconsistent limits at home, and that this exposure has set him up for difficulties in accepting limits at school. Another possibility is that he had some early challenges with perception or attachment which continue to affect his adjustment. His willingness to spend time in the office might indicate he has a greater comfort level with adult centered environments than child-centered spaces like the classroom. It might make sense to find out what kinds of reinforcers might be in the office which make it "better" for him that his classroom.

Once you have had an observation, met with your mentor teacher and the co-teacher, it would be time to get the parent involved. Work as a team to craft a behavior plan and boil it down to two or three concrete objectives. Keep track of the child's progress with regard to those specific objectives and if he makes progress, continue on to all the objectives you need to get him normalized. If he doesn't make progress, then you may need to consult with a professional who can evaluate his general health and then his mental/emotional health.

Most kids respond pretty well to a behavior plan approach, even those who are initially oppositional. Those that don't may have hidden brain damage, microseizures, food allergies, or any number of real physical disabilities which impact a child's performance in a classroom.

If you need more details (and examples) about how we put together a behavior plan where I work, just message me and I'll elaborate.

Muriel Rand's picture
Muriel Rand
Professor of Early Childhood Education & Classroom Management Specialist

I agree with Mary Kate that this is a learning opportunity, although obviously VERY challenging. I have two suggestions. The first is to start teaching him the social/emotional skills he needs to be successful in school that he hasn't yet learned. I agree with you that the power of being part of a social group will eventually kick in for him, so think about how you can facilitate that. He might need some help getting the social skills to make friends and fit in. This could give him more motivation to be in the classroom.

The second suggestion is to scaffold the child's ability to tolerate being in the classroom and participating in the whole group activities. See if you can stretch the amount of time he can participate appropriately before letting him go to the office. Don't expect him to stay the whole time at the beginning. I'd consider creating a chart for him to keep track of his progress. Give him plenty of positive feedback when he is behaving appropriately.

I also agree that this child could benefit from a positive behavioral support plan since his needs are quite extensive.

bill petrarca's picture
bill petrarca
enabling children with skills to deal with aberrant behavior.

There is a new approach to complement character education programs that has been tested in a Massachuesetts school district with promising results. It focuses on giving 3rd/4th/5th graders and their teachers and parents an effective age-appropriate vocabulary to discuss the "why's" of aberrant behavior and give them the skills to deal with those behaviors wthout escalating into violent outcomes. The new instructional series called Kids Style is based on 40 years of adult behavioral training. More at www.KidsStyle.org ; a parents' version is at iTunes, http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/kids-style-getting-to-know-you/id4949481...
We can give our children the tools they need to deal with behavioral issues like bullying.

Dain Taylor's picture
Dain Taylor
Mi nombre es Daniel Taylor-Hola-My name is Dain Taylor-hello

Thankyou so much for the new website.

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