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Stopping Aggressive Play


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I have a child in my year one class who is quite aggressive in his play and I’m struggling to know how to deal with this.

 

In the classroom he isn’t too bad, although during transition times or active times (number fun songs or wake up and shake up time) he will start behaving in a silly way, doing things like flopping down on the carpet so that usually he injures a child already sitting there, or rolling around on the floor, or grabbing at his friends and trying to get them to roll around with him, things like that. He’s not really being malicious he just doesn’t think about what he’s doing and also doesn’t realise how rough he’s being. Does anyone have any useful strategies for stopping this?

 

The main problem though is in the playground. Already he has been in trouble for fighting several times this year, usually with the same two or three boys who he drags into his aggressive play. At home this behaviour isn’t really regulated or prevented so it’s a case of him realising that at school it’s unacceptable. Currently the punishment (from the school’s behaviour policy) is a good shouting at by the head teacher (Very scary! Not for him though as his mum does nothing but yell at him) and a ‘red card’ (parents informed) and missing playtimes (the latest time they’ve missed two days worth of playing out at lunch and break times!). Sometimes they are even made to miss lessons and just sit outside the head teacher’s office for the entire afternoon after it has happened. Personally I don’t really think this is very helpful, particularly at such a young age (about 5 and a half). Surely missing one opportunity to play out would be enough?

 

Yes, fighting should be sanctioned, but this seems very over the top, especially as it’s clear to me that this particular child doesn’t know of any other way to play. What I’d really like to do is teach him better ways to play on the playground so that he doesn’t lose control and turn his play into fighting, and also strategies for the two or three boys who get dragged into it so that they can learn not to do it. The latter is going to be hard as one of the boys is his cousin so they interact a lot at home where fighting is allowed, and the other two boys are also from quite rough backgrounds and are both easily led and are SEN so everything needs to be reinforced over and over before they get the idea.

 

Does anyone have any helpful advice to sort this out? What strategies could I use to teach them better play? What sort of sanctions do people here think would be appropriate?

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What is like when playing with things in the classroom. In the past with children who have found playtime hard we have made an agreement about them staying inside and playing with something with a friend - they obviously have to be spoken to about expectations of behaviour inside but this has worked as it prevents the outside problems and stops the negative cycle which can often make children worse. It also helps them to play cooperatively with someone else. Mind you, you do need to get the agreement from the hierarchy!

Edited by kittycat1279
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I have a child in my year one class who is quite aggressive in his play and I’m struggling to know how to deal with this.

 

In the classroom he isn’t too bad, although during transition times or active times (number fun songs or wake up and shake up time) he will start behaving in a silly way, doing things like flopping down on the carpet so that usually he injures a child already sitting there, or rolling around on the floor, or grabbing at his friends and trying to get them to roll around with him, things like that. He’s not really being malicious he just doesn’t think about what he’s doing and also doesn’t realise how rough he’s being. Does anyone have any useful strategies for stopping this?

 

The main problem though is in the playground. Already he has been in trouble for fighting several times this year, usually with the same two or three boys who he drags into his aggressive play. At home this behaviour isn’t really regulated or prevented so it’s a case of him realising that at school it’s unacceptable. Currently the punishment (from the school’s behaviour policy) is a good shouting at by the head teacher (Very scary! Not for him though as his mum does nothing but yell at him) and a ‘red card’ (parents informed) and missing playtimes (the latest time they’ve missed two days worth of playing out at lunch and break times!). Sometimes they are even made to miss lessons and just sit outside the head teacher’s office for the entire afternoon after it has happened. Personally I don’t really think this is very helpful, particularly at such a young age (about 5 and a half). Surely missing one opportunity to play out would be enough?

 

Yes, fighting should be sanctioned, but this seems very over the top, especially as it’s clear to me that this particular child doesn’t know of any other way to play. What I’d really like to do is teach him better ways to play on the playground so that he doesn’t lose control and turn his play into fighting, and also strategies for the two or three boys who get dragged into it so that they can learn not to do it. The latter is going to be hard as one of the boys is his cousin so they interact a lot at home where fighting is allowed, and the other two boys are also from quite rough backgrounds and are both easily led and are SEN so everything needs to be reinforced over and over before they get the idea.

 

Does anyone have any helpful advice to sort this out? What strategies could I use to teach them better play? What sort of sanctions do people here think would be appropriate?

 

We have some boys who behave in this way too and they are now in year 2 and have been doing so since Reception. Its very difficult when the parents cant or wont see a problem, which seems to be some of our issues. Boys have missed playtimes etc but they still resort to the same behaviour/ way of playing. We are looking closely at our provision for all children, with more toys and opportunities outside especially at lunchtimes and there is a small improvement.

 

Unfortunately for some children, these things need to be constantly addressed and reinforced through whole school assemblies, class circle time and even individually. Have you tried behaviour management charts and stickers etc with rewards for success over a number of days to try and break the cycle.

 

It can be very demoralising for you as the teacher and I think you may be in job share unless I am muddling you with someone else but you will need the support of your colleagues/ job share partner. When I had a very demanding child I found it helpful to read one of the Bill Rogers behaviour management books and there is a new one written with his daughter focusing on early years.

 

Good luck.

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I don't know an easy answer to this one.......we have a boy who comes to us from school for afternoon sessions and he is quite rough too, and this seems to be acceptable at home;almost encouraged in fact. Dad is a rugby player and likes to see his son 'getting in there' with his younger daughter, who also seems to enjoy this, but not to the same extent.She will happily play quiet games and join in lots of other games and play without being 'rough'.We can deal with this to an extent, by taking him out on the field next to us, to play football, running and other physical games: he DOES have a lot of energy to use up and I know, right now at school, the children aren't allowed out to play much, because of the wet weather (our school doesn't seem to have heard of 'outside in all weathers/outdoor play ect). I can't honestly see how sitting outside the head's office for an afternoon helps your child, tbh.....or being yelled at either ( yelling/shouting just seems to me to be another form of roughness?).He's not learning how to mix in an acceptable way like this, is he? I do know.................and i'm not advocating this, but it did work for the child concerned ( mine, actually, many years ago!)..........that being given rather 'boring' jobs to do while the others were out having fun, got the message home...........he was given 'litter-picking' duties at break times, so he was busy, but not getting into mischief.

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Thanks for all your replies.

 

Staying in the classroom to play with something else is not an option, if only because it's not a route I'm at all happy with. He needs to learn to play outside and not be rough. He is perfectly capable of playing cooperatively already so that isn't a skill he needs to learn anyway. What he struggles to do is play cooperatively without it becoming rough and turning into 'play fighting', not because he wants to hurt people but simply because he can't stop himself. He isn't beating them up, or getting angry cause they won't do stuff and lashing out, he isn't an angry little boy at all, he just thinks that rough and tumble fights are fun and the people he fights with are happy with this sort of play so aren't exactly running crying to the teacher (ie. we can't use the idea of 'you're hurting people who don't want to be hurt' - to be honest none of them have ever complained of an injury as a result of this play fighting).

 

I'm also stuck when it comes to the reward charts. He has been before the headteacher for fighting 3 times since september, which to me doesn't seem enough to make a sticker chart work since he obviously has 3-4 week periods were he doesn't do anything that the school deems unacceptable behaviour. In the classroom as well it's all low level behaviour issues. Today he was in the role play and the play was getting rather silly, loud and destructive. I had to tell the group at least twice to calm down and eventually had to go in and actually assign roles to the children in order for them to play properly in there, which I don't like doing as it's supposed to be their own role play and I've already done the whole "this is how we play in here" sessions with them.

 

What really upsets me about the whole thing is that one of the boys he fights with outside is getting an undeserved reputation for being badly behaved. I wanted to put him in a focus group for literacy support and one of the other teachers said "but won't x be disruptive?" The answer was most definitely no! The boy we were talking about never gives trouble in class, and certainly has never once disrupted any of my lessons. I don't know what on earth the other teachers think these boys are like but I really could cry for them when people say things like that.

 

What I'd really like is some activities that I can undertake with him to help him gain more physical control and awareness of his body (I think that might be part of the problem) and to give him different games to play outside with his friends - onces that have less potential to dissolve into play fights (at the moment it's all rugby and football, which are rough games in themselves).

 

Oh, and yes Susan I am a job share teacher! :)

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