Your ability to manage challenging behaviour in the classroom is one of the keys to success.
It’s important to remember that those pupils who present the most challenge are usually the ones who are crying out for support.
Here are some ideas that will help teachers looking for guidance when faced with challenging behaviour.
Ideas for Managing Challenging Behaviour
1. Familiarise yourself with the child’s background
It will be impossible to understand what is going on if you don’t take the time to find out about any SEND requirements or additional issues which could be disadvantaging them. Arming yourself with their background will enable you to take a personal approach and build a better relationship with them.
Let them know you are on their side and ready to offer support rather than sanctions.
2. Engage with parents
Organise a face-to-face or telephone meeting to improve communication and build a fuller picture of the child.
Parents know their children best, and if you give them the space to have an open and honest dialogue, you can devise some combined strategies that can be implemented. Remember to follow up regularly to continue building trust with the family.
3. Investigate strategies for promoting self-regulation
Many pupils who present with challenging behaviour are struggling to regulate their emotions.
Incorporating a framework that establishes a common language for communication and regulating emotions can be very beneficial.
For some ideas on self-regulation strategies, check out some popular approaches here.
You might also want to investigate emotion coaching. Learning how to respond to challenging behaviour this way can help to de-escalate situations, validate emotions and create a more favourable environment for learning.
4. Create a bespoke behaviour management system
Most teachers will follow a whole school or class behaviour system according to the school policy on behaviour. This will work for most pupils, but where challenging behaviour is more extreme, it may be best to use something more individual.
Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool when it allows pupils to achieve. Individual reward charts can be successful if established in conjunction with the pupil. Focus on effort rather than achievement for the greatest benefits. Use stickers, scores, ticks or smiley faces to record success but remember that the best reward is praise from you and the parents.
Many pupils, especially those with ASD or ADD, become overwhelmed by all the transitions in a school day. Please work with your SEND coordinator to create an individual daily timetable where the pupil can visually see their day and any changes can be shown clearly.
This can help reduce stress levels and help pupils feel more in control.
6. Start the day gently
Pupils who are struggling may find getting to school extremely stressful. It can even lead to school refusal. You can help by establishing a positive start to the day with a preferred activity, a different entrance, or a different agreed-upon start time.
7. Be positive
Celebrating success, no matter how small, will prove to a child that you notice when they have done well.
Naturally, you are more likely to reach out to a parent when things are going badly, but it is vital that you also make an effort when things have gone well. Praise the pupil directly but including a parent will boost a child’s self-esteem enormously.