Another boy whose behaviour is totally out of control at home and school has just joined my class. This has been going on for six years – and he’s only just 9 years old… Very worrying for his future!
So, how’s it come to this?
Like so many others he’s diagnosed as being ADHD plus other assorted behaviour problems… Oh yes, and as usual it’s all his fault – who else could be to blame? Nothing else is ever considered in these cases… So many people have had meetings and discussions about him for years, but nobody has done anything constructive to help this little boy.
The talk goes on and in the meantime the child’s behaviour is getting worse and worse. The adults persuade themselves that they’re doing all they can, and of course everything’ being done correctly, therefore there must be something drastically wrong with the child. There can’t be any other answer, can there?
What had his behaviour been like?
Right from day one when he was in reception class as a 4 year old, displayed confrontational, disruptive and violent behaviour towards adults and other children. On day one he ran from the classroom and along the top of the clothes rails in the cloakrooms!
So, did this early behaviour set alarm bells ringing? Address this behaviour or we’re in big trouble? Well, actually no this didn’t happen – the alarm bells bit, I mean… The teachers thought he’d get over it on his own when he’d settled down! Oh dear, what a mistake!
On we go, 6 years later and things were beyond being a crisis… The teachers had given up. Nothing they’d tried had worked. So, nothing more could be done..
Why had things not worked out?
He’d been told what the teachers expected. He’d taken no notice though! Not really surprising – words don’t replace action. He has no care about what they want or say. It’s what action they take that makes the difference — and there hadn’t been the right action…
The only way this boy could stay in mainstream school was to be ‘supported’ by 2 adults at once – and it was still chaos… Why? Because limits and boundaries hadn’t been set on his behaviour! Ok, the adults thought they’d set boundaries but the fact is that if you don’t get the results you want they you’re not doing it right! So chaos, mayhem and destruction reigned…
This boy was taken to see a doctor who duly diagnosed behaviour syndromes and prescribed powerful drugs which made absolutely no difference to his behaviour.
Adults had taken action but to no avail – just the chaos we have now…
What’s meant when I say that teachers ‘think they’ve put limits and boundaries in place to manage behaviour’? That’s true. Teachers are taking action but unless it’s done properly – and if you’re not getting the intended result then it’s not being done properly – you’ll just make the problems worse. Boundaries and limits have to be set at the right time and in the right way.
Here’s an example to demonstrate…
This particular boy, when he was in infant classes had proved himself in desperate need of adults to take control of his behaviour and put boundaries in place. On one occasion he picked up a pointed piece of maths equipment (one of those big set squares used for board demos) and rushed towards an adult, aiming it at her middle like a jouster on a horse!
So, what action did this teacher take? Well, she allowed the boy to continue towards her, coming to a sudden halt, the pointed end of the plastic very close to being stuck in her stomach!
‘I knew he would stop!’ she told me.
I think she should consider herself lucky that he stopped in time and could judge the stopping distance…
That was their version of setting limits and boundaries on his behaviour! Let him behave badly and then let him stop when he felt like it… All on his terms. No way will this get good results. Numerous other examples like this were described… Little wonder things had gone so wrong1
Bluntly put – it was completely wrong!
To set limits and boundaries on children’s behaviour you set them at the point where the behaviour should stop and change. Don’t wait until too late otherwise you’re managing a crisis instead of preventing one and the child hasn’t a clue where the boundary should be… It’s all common sense really as are all the other aspects of managing children’s behaviour. Learn the strategies, use them consistently and they’re soon second nature – you’re doing it automatically before too long…
Just make sure you’re acting at the right time…. Saves a lot of bother in the long run.
Liz Marsden is a highly successful teacher specialising in dealing with children’s challenging and extreme behaviour, Liz uses her skills to train teachers, student teachers, teaching assistants and parents to manage children’s behaviour effectively and with confidence. Visit Liz’s website where you can access her easy to follow behaviour management techniques and be able to get great results immediately.