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Consistently ignoring instructions!


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How do you deal with a child who repeatedly ignores any form of instructions?


He has just turned 4, and despite EAL is now very fluent in it and has a very good understanding.


When discussing right and wrong thing to do, reading stories or when his peers aren't following rules and instructions he is very very quick to give the answer and reason why they should be doing it or will comment that they aren't being nice.


He refuses to share often saying but I don't want to share even if he has taken the toy off another child - there is no reasoning with him despite using the tactic that these are my toys (staff toys) and we like to share with our friends.


Despite understanding and knowing the setting rules/boundaries and what the instruction is it is almost like he just can't stop himself!


I am running out of tactics. I do find I have to explain why he shouldn't be charging around indoors or why he should be barging into friends or why he shouldn't snatch toys. He likes an explanation which were happy to give but even after the 500th time he still asks why.


He knows it hurts his friends when he spoils there play (this he often does by first observing them then removing an item they are playing with hoping for a reaction- the others ignore him now) He gets upset if his friends aren't particularly nice to him.


Tried ignore negative behaviours unless he is hurting others, praising the positive with stickers etc and yet he still repeatedly ignores whatever is said to him.


Today for example he had had a turn on the scooter and when the timer was up was asked to give another child ago. This he agreed to and when the child went over he rode off! A staff member then eventually caught up with him and asked him to give the scooter to the other child he eventually handed it over along with saying the other child was stupid! As a result he was asked to go into the playroom (where I was) and to sit and think about what he had just said. While sat in a seat he kicked the swept up pile if sand all over the floor. While speaking to him and saying I was upset that he had kicked it all over after sweeping up and would need to do it again he continued to kick his feet out. He is reluctant to maintain eye contact especially when his behaviour is being addressed and has recently taken to just walking away from staff.


At a loss what to do but it's having a huge impact in the group. If he isn't in atmosphere is completely different.


Part of me thinks there maybe an underlying condition but the other part of me thinks not.


Help/advice would be very much appreciated please

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It sounds like he doesn't know how to ask children to play with him/ask to play with other children, so he resorts to getting their attention in the ways he knows will be successful, even if it has negative consequences.

I had a little boy in my nursery class last year who was very like this, and when asked to explain why he'd hurt someone etc, it almost always was because in his eyes the other child had 'broken' the rules in some way, and he was addressing this in the only way he knew how. On a day to day basis his behaviour improved immensely when we gave him a sticker book of his own, where he'd get a sticker for each 'chunk' of the session he'd completed without hurting anyone or trashing anything. I was skeptical at first as I'm not a fan of stickers with very young children, but it had an immediate and long lasting effect. My overriding suspicion about the boy in my class was that he was quite possibly on the autistic spectrum somewhere, so we kept lots of notes/observations, just in case we ever decided to take things further. I do wonder the same about this little boy. Alternatively he could simply be a contrary little man who needs more guidance and modelling than other children. What is he like outside of the setting? What do his parents say?

Sorry I can't offer more suggestions, the only other thing I can think of is to read Betsy Evans' book, Conflict Resolution with Young Children. I've been putting this into practice in my YR classroom this term and the children have really come on a lot in terms of managing their own disputes. There has been a marked decline in squabbles where children end up hurting/pushing/hitting each other so it might be worth a go.

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some questions....

how do his parents deal with this?

What does he like doing?

Can he play well ...is he bored?

Are ther any trigger words ...so can you use take turns rather than share. He is behaving emotionally like a two year old . Try the tactics you would use for this age group.

Does he understand Why? questions? ....there are several things in your post that would suggest an emotional delay rather than a significant syndrome.

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Thank you :D


He has been coming 2 years and so is not new to the setting. When he does play he plays lovely but his attendance is very adhoc and he misses large chunks at a time.


It could well be emotional! He is such a bright child but at times can often just burst into tears.


He does like to please and put the world to rights too despite what the consequences of his actions are.


He gets very mixed messages at home. Mam is raising him alone (dad works away abroad so rarely he sees him though does Skype daily) So mam tries to enforce rules and boundaries and when she mentions to her parents he has been misbehaving they say oh [child's name] is not naughty he is a good boy.


We have always been consistent with boundaries etc though

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i would say emotional delay too, or possibly on spectrum. he knows the rules but does not realise they apply to him/it's a two-way thing or does not want to!! may be being spoilt at home? mum over-compensating out of guilt for him being in single parent family? she certainly thinks he can do no wrong by the sounds of it...... sticker book from divvydeb sounds like a plan. we are using a smile chart with a girl who is hurting others and completely unaware of what she is doing. and we break the morning up into 4 sessions to give her potential to get 4 smiles (and 4 stickers). it's working brilliantly, and stopping her getting a reputation and being scapegoated - you know what children and parents are like!! we're nursery x

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