Improving School for Both You and Behaviourally Challenging Students

August 11th, 2015 |

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There are ways to improve school for both you and behaviourally challenging children.  It is one of the most stressful situations for the teachers, the parents and the child and has been cited as a leading cause of teachers leaving the profession permanently.  Traditional school disciplinary practices are not successful and I detail why in my book Hidden Voices.  This post reviews the top 5 ways (originally posted by Dr. Ross Greene, October 2014)  to improve this situation.


1.  Parents and teachers need to stop blaming each other for a child’s challenging behaviour.  Teachers often blame it on dysfunctional family circumstances.  Parent bashing will distract the teacher from the problem and cause them to lose sight of the fact that they can help the child learn how to control their behaviour during the time they are in school.  Most parents can sense when they are viewed as “the problem” and are then not keen on becoming part of that child’s support team.  Blaming the teacher is just as unproductive.  Teachers are under a huge amount of stress to get every student in their class performing at the highest possible academic level while dealing with classroom disruptions.  Teachers want to help children (it’s why they picked that profession) but with most of the education budget spent on increasing academic performance many teachers are not trained in helping the children with disruptive behaviour.

2. Find the root cause of the behaviour as it will lead you to the skill deficits that occur in the brain of a children with challenging behaviour.  It is these skill deficits that have been proven, over the last 40 to 50 years of research in education, that contribute to the disruptive behaviour.  Labeling behaviour as “attention seeking”, “lazy”, “manipulative”, and “testing limits” may be accurate in what you think the child’s behaviour is demonstrating but it does not help the child in any way.  Identifying the skill deficits such as frustration tolerance, flexibility/adaptability, transitioning and problem solving are just as important to identify as learning disabilities in children who struggle.

3.  Once you have found the root causes of a child’s unwanted behaviour; focus on these problems rather than the behaviour.  Dr. Greene calls them “unsolved problems” and he is right.  Check out his site for the Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems at that you can use for free in your quest to help a child.

4.  Work with the child in solving the problems that are causing his or her underachievement. Because of our life experiences we think we have the best solutions and often come up with a solution we think would fit for the child.  Then it is imposed on the child and often fails.  Working with the child helps the child in many ways, not just in solving the problem.  This approach teaches the child that he or she has value, so it increases their self-esteem, how to self-evaluation, problem solve and deal with issues that are interfering in their ability to be successful.  I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of using this approach as I found the children I worked with had ideas and solutions that worked for their problems.  They just need some guidance and support.  This needs to be a team effort with the child, the parents and the teachers problem solving together.

5.  Problematic behaviour is habit forming and has triggers which means there will be a pattern to them.  Once you know the trigger and pattern you can then work proactively on the challenging behaviours.  This is less stressful than reactive approaches which are influenced by frustration and anger.  The crazy thing about this approach is that, if you are on the right track, the problem is quickly solved and the inappropriate behaviour changes to appropriate behaviour.  You will be spending time dealing with dysfunctional behaviour anyway so spend it wisely, happily and as less stressful as possible.


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