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Hi - need some of your excellent advice.


We have had a child start at our setting in September who has, should we say, VERY challenging behaviour towards the other children and also to the staff, not a day has gone by when there has been at least a couple of children going home with injuries inflicted by this child. We are talking to parents, keeping incident logs etc (which are huge) trying to praise the positive etc


The advice I need is that we are getting a lot of parents now complaining to us reference this child, they have also started to take their concerns to the committee. We are worried that it won't be long before someone makes a formal complaint.


Have you had problems like this and how did you deal with them?

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You are pretty much describing my setting a year ago! My worry was I am the sole owner of the pre-school and I was being expected to "sort it all out". You can only do what you are doing I think. We worked hard with the child, who was very bright, but had very little experience of being with other children or being allowed much freedom to play without an adult at his side directing what he would do. If he wasn't immediately understood by one of the children he would lash out at them.


Day after day we were filling out incident logs, talking with parents and talking with his parents.


My Early Years Advisor feels we should take a pat on the back for his eventual turn around and ability to play within the group without any problem - I am reluctant to do this, yes, but ultimately "loving" him, praising him and showing the other children that he was liked by all the adults did help, coaching him into being a good, playful companion did some good, but ultimately, his behaviour began to really turn very shortly after a conversation with his parents when I told them that if he continued hurting indiscriminately - we would involve the Specialist Teaching Service, a Behaviour Specialist and need to have transition meetings before he went to primary school, mum was concerned that it would involve Social Services, with whom she had had previous dealings - I do believe that the threat of Social Services in her mind was enough for her to get through to her son - before that i think although she said she was supporting us in helping him, in reality she did not respect what we were saying. Even though I assured her that Social Services would not be involved I don't think she believed me.



The boy stopped hurting the other children, just the odd verbal "spat" and became well liked by many of the children, especially the girls - he did not ever get on with the boys, he had nothing particularly in common with them.

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I agree a BIG emphasis on LIKE the child but not the behaviour, trying to discover what is behind his behaviour, be it social/emotional, language difficulties/cognitive etc, and supporting the childs development in these specific areas. Any problems at home ? (other than his behaviour)


As for the parents complaining, when I've been in this situation in the past, when I spoke to the parents of the children who were hurt by the child I would report it in a way that enabled the parent to know that we were helping their child to get over the physical hurt but just as importantly we were helping the child not to 'be a victim', and that children also need to learn that sometimes some children are horrible but its not always their fault that they are.

for example, I'd say to the parent, I was so pleased with Tommy today, when in an argument with another child he stood his ground, without retaliating or hitting back, he was able to say 'NO', don't do that, which was REALLY good, and although he got hurt a little bit, he soon got over it and got on with his play, I'm so proud of him for understanding that some children have problems that are too big to manage themselves sometimes, that they take it out on people they actually like and feel safe with. The other child does actually like Tommy, and he was very sorry he hurt Tommy. But well done Tommy for not letting this affect him too much. (this is good for the hurt child as much as the parent too)

This type of comment helps the parent keep the incident in perspective because the children that are hurt DO get over it quickly, it's often though when parents perpetuate the 'hurt victim' persona, that children find it harder to manage and get anxious and more upset than necessary.

This message does take time to get through to some parents, and needs to be done on a 1-1 basis with parents, and it's quite understandable that parents are upset for their own child.

One of the hardest things is to stop the 'naughty' child label being placed on this child, and no doubt, if it perpetuates, some children will report to parents of being hurt by him, even when he's not there. :o


Definately get some other agency advice/ support for him and his family if it escalates too far.


Good luck, let us know how things go.



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One of the hardest things is to stop the 'naughty' child label being placed on this child, and no doubt, if it perpetuates, some children will report to parents of being hurt by him, even when he's not there. :o






How quickly this label gets used by the children even though we never used that word in the nursery and we would tell any child using it that this wasn't the case. Also had a few children saying he had done things when he was off sick.



I liked your explanation to parents Peggy, I found it very difficult to have to explain to parents that their child had been hurt, and worst of all, quite often it was the same parents each time. Your words certainly make it a more 'positive' view of what is a very difficult conversation.

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Children are reporting who has hurt them - when we are informing the parents of the hurt child we obviously aren't saying who has hurt them but of course the children say it out loud for everyone to hear.

We have a lot of grandparents who pick up/drop off and the term 'naughty' is what they are all calling this child - it is beginning to escalate quite quickly - thank goodness it 1/2 term next week chance for people to calm down!!

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  • 1 month later...

Help is still needed, your experience is much valued with this!


Things are still really bad, help from Early Years has been '1 hour and basically yes it's behavioural issues but there's no funding available for help'


Basically now there have been that many complaints from the parents to the Committee that the Committee want the child out of our group, this is not what we want as it doesn't help the child, however I can understand the other parents views.


I have said that this is not an easy thing to do and that there are lots of procedures to go through......oops I'm presuming there are, however have no experience of this and there is nothing in our policy to state what we would do!


So basically my question is, do any of you have anything on your Behaviour policy that states what you would do in this situation?


many thanks

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Judging by the timing of your post this is really preying on your mind.


I don't work in a group setting so I don't really know where you stand regarding the committee wanting him to leave.


My gut feeling is that you may need to get more support from his parents. Are they aware of how serious the situation is? If they are not working reinforcing your work at home it will all take a lot longer. It would be an awful shame if the child has to be removed from your setting.


Will he be at school with the other children in the group? If so it might be worth pointing out to the committee that it is in their children's interests to improve matters where the is more supervision and a better adult:child ratio so it is worth persisting. Will they want their children in a relatively unsupervised playground with him?



I'm sorry I can't offer any more helpful advice to you. I hope someone comes along with something more helpful soon.

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I really feel for you - this is a dreadful situation for everyone to be in.

My gut feeling is that you cannot and should not remove this child because of pressure from parents. Parents need to be given copies of your Inclusion Policy/Equal Opportunities Policy and made aware that this is not an option legally and perhaps a covering letter asking for their support!?!

Maybe you could offer a parents evening on how to deal with challenging behaviour which could include some tips on helping children keep themselves safe from challenging behaviour.

Do you have any local colleges that could place a student with you as an extra pair of hands to be vigilant and prevent some of these incidents occuring?


To answer your question though my Behaviour Policy states that I will work with parents to address recurring unacceptable behaviour, write incident logs, monitor ABC's but doesn't go any further than that.

Do you have an Inclusion Officer or Inclusion panel in your authority - you need extra help to ensure the outcome isn't that the child is removed, perhaps if this is being threatened you may get some extra involvement.

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Does your local authority have a play therapist who could visit and give you some advice on managing the behaviour?


I can only think that in your position I would be hassling the EY team to provide more support - sadly, it's often those who make the most fuss who get the most help so you may have to be prepared to make a nuisance of yourself.


I found that once I started following up my calls with e-mails, detailing what had been discussed and agreed, and making sure I had read receipts on them, progress was made. They soon cottoned on to the fact that I was covering myself for when/if a complaint was made and that they weren't covering themselves in glory with their tardy reactions :o


Perhaps an e-mail detailing all the incidents, how you've dealt with them, comments from all the parents and their fears and concerns would move things along? It might also clarify your own thinking, having pulled it all together and you'll feel better for having done something to try and get the support you, your staff, this child and family need.

Good Luck!



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Not knowing the child can be hard to give advice, but one tack we often used when a child was hurting another was to turn out back on the child who had done the action and give over the top affection and attention while the other child looked on...


we found a lot of children did not like the being ignored part if they did something we disliked... often we did not say anything at all to them, which they liked even less...


when we noticed the behaviour we were after then they got the praise.. and attention..


sometimes the injured child wondered what was going on it was so over the top and not like our usual response...


It did not always work but we often gave it a go to see...


another adult just kept an eye on the child while back was turned.. we often expected them to move away but often they were so curious as to why we did not respond in the way they expected and wanted to know what we were doing with the other child..



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Would it be possible to get a couple of committee members to come in for a morning or two to give you extra cover and then a member of staff concentrate only on this child, coaching him in all his interactions with anyone coming near him or with the extra people in one member of staff working close by him during the morning while another observed him and only him to see what his triggers are, how well behaved he can be, but it doesn't get noticed usually.


We found with our little man that he had a lot of adult input at home, (not all of it positive, they were by no means model parents!) neither parent worked and they were a very tight unit up until the boy came to us at about 3.5yrs. he just didn't have much understanding of playing with children and would lose his temper at the drop of a hat...........in the early days we focused too much on the negative I think and found ourselves always on the back foot trying to manage what had happened ............... much later on we planned for the positive and headed off any incidents before they could happen and this came about by lots of circumstances, but from observing him we could see how he began interactions by being friendly enough but the other children just 'didn't get what he was on about he talked about things they had no understanding of, such as managing money, X Files etc. the list was endless, he just didn't have anything in common with them.


That's when we had one member of staff shadowing him helping the interactions along and one member of staff observing and only looking for the positives. As was mentioned in a different thread recently on a breakthrough issue with behaviour, I can remember telling this little boy one morning, I have had such fun with you today ***** can we have lovely kind ****** to come tomorrow please and eventually the penny dropped and we had better behaviour beginning.


One of the difficult things in all this is the speed at which incidents happen, you can be watching for half an hour, and nothing happens, you turn your back and bam, he's hurt another child. It needs extra staffing and patience by the bucket load.


I wish you well with this little chap you have, my heart goes out to you because I can imagine how you are feeling because I too felt like that most days. It's exhausting and this time last year when we were getting ready for the christmas activities he was at his worst because the adults were more pre-occupied than usual.

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This happened to me about 3 years ago. I had just taken over the pre-school from a committee and spen a lot of time and money in being able to keep my job.

On our return in the Jan word had gone around that we would not be opening for the spring term.

When we got back after christmas break many of the children we were expecying to see never arrived! When we contacted them many had opted to move their children to a different setting.


Anyway we had a 2year old start in the Feb. All was not well on the first morning. he bit, pulled handfulls of hair out of other children, you name it he did it. by the end of the first week we were recieving complaints from parents. Even parents of children who had not been hurt.

My staff and I decided that we needed lots of help but didn't really have any where to go as he was not 3.

We sent out a letter stating that there had been a number of behaviour issues and that we were aware of them and we were working with the families.

One family left; but many parents once they were assured that we were working with everyone to resolve the problem were less angry and more understanding.


I got intouch with my area SEN and asked when her next vist was going to be. She said that she was in my area the following week and would drop by and say hello.


She happened to come in on one of the days the little boy was with us. With a lot of support from my staff we were working on a one to one, but as we were unable to find the trigger to his outbursts we were not always quick enough to stop the hair pulling........


The area Sen was great, as she had witnessed the behaviour herself (she was shocked by what she had seen) she asked if she could stay and meet his parents and talk with them.


We introduced a daily diary for his behaviour good and bad.

The Area SEN was able to access funding for a one-one staff member (even though he was not 3 which is normally when Sen funding comes online). The Sen team organised for a play worker to come in for 2hrs a week (this continued until he left for school in July).

The Healty visitor visited the family home once a week.

There was endless help in the end.

I did mention to my area SEN that I would have to ask the parents to withdraw their child unless some help could be found, (I never told her that I would never ask a parent to withdraw their child, I would do what it took to get to the root of his issues if it took me a life time!)


I guess what i am trying to say is Your not alone, I think anyone who has not faced this in any setting or school is very lucky.


my advice is scream from the roof top as loud as you can and get outside help.

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Judging by the timing of your post this is really preying on your mind.


Yes Upsy Daisy I'm having a lot of night/mornings like this at the moment, just waiting for 1/2 term to be honest.


Thank you all for your replies lots of good advice, I have made it clear to the Chairperson that excluding this child will be the last thing on our list and if parents wish to take their children out them I'm very sorry but that is down to them, unfortunately some of the worst incidents have been with the children of Committee members so their support isn't great a lot of times. They do try to be supportive but when it's their little one who's been victim of the day then understandably they aren't quite so understanding.


I will take everyones advice and keep shouting at Early Years to make our voice heard!

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