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Help! Behaviour


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I'm really enjoying my new temp job as reception teacher, but I have one child in my class who I'm finding sooooo frustrating due to his behaviour. It's got to the stage where I'm beginning to doubt myself as a teacher, as he almost seems to have gotten worse over the 2 weeks - especially since I only have a class of 15! :D

The problem is that the behaviour isn't very bad, it's just inappropriate and disrupting. Also, he's one of those children that you really struggle to dislike; well-mannered (mostly!), bright, cheeky in a nice way etc. but I have to admit, my liking him is beginning to falter.

The previous teacher left me notes on each child, and his said that he was prone to inappropriate behaviour and violent tendencies towards other children, but he would 'obey' her but didn't listen to other members of staff. However, it seems he does respond to the Head.

Whilst he can be violent to other children, generally this is not so much the problem (although he can never give a reason why he has punched someone, or whatever). The problem is when we sit down on the carpet to begin a lesson and he starts rolling around on the carpet and making silly noises quite loudly. I politely ask him to sit up and stop making the noises and he blatantly continues - often louder than before - or just laughs at me and says "No!"

The class (and I think school) sanction is to have individual pegs with children's names on. The pegs are all on a cut out sun; inappropriate behaviour has them move to a 'thinking cloud' (sun behind a cloud) then on down to a storm cloud, at which point the child has to sit on the 'thinking chair'. I have followed this system several times and it just doesn't seem to work; for one, he'll carry on making very loud noises from the thinking chair which is really disruptive for the rest of us. So I started telling him he'd have to miss some of his lunchtime play (something I know to have been done before), but it ends up with him missing part of play every day. I know this bothers him (I've had tears from him a couple of times and he stomps around saying "Everyone has more fun than me! Now I have to miss some playtime!") but it doesn't seem to stop the behaviour.

 

We had such a bad day on Tuesday that I spoke to Mum (who is actually very nice and very understanding) and suggested a smily chart, which we started on Wednesday. The day is split in to 4 - 3 sections for the morning, then 1 in the afternoon. I've said initially if he gets 2 smilies in a day, he'll get a smily sticker on the chart and a 'good behaviour' sticker on him. For the first 2 days he got 2 smiles, then yesterday only 1. I really don't think it's a case of him thinking 'Oh I got 2 smilies, so now I don't have to behave'. I also said to Mum maybe she and he could agree a special treat at the end of the week if he gets a certain number of smilies.

 

The other thing worth mentioning is that the behaviour usually changes at a certain time - you could almost set your watch by him. They have playtime, then assembly (that counts as one section of the chart) then they come in and have snack, before sitting on the carpet - usually for literacy. Usually snack is uneventful, and when they first sit on the carpet, we often play I spy, or Simon Says, which he is fine with, but once I say "Right, now we're going to do..." it starts. And as Mum said to me, once he's gone, it's extremely difficult to get him back, so we have a snowball effect.

 

I've told myself to go in calmly on Monday and persevere with the chart (though any modification suggestions would be welcomed) for next week, as yesterday I lost it to the point of shouting and physically standing him on his feet, and frog-marching him to the thinking chair, when he refused point-blank to get up - by the time I was back on my chair, he was giggling and running back over to the carpet area. I really don't know where to go next with this child. It's not that he can't do the work so switches off, and it's not that he's extremely bright and is bored with it. I really just can't figure him out, and would really appreciate some help with this one!

 

(Sorry it was so long!)

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We have a child with similar behavioural traits and we have some different strategies that may help..obviously it will depend on your setting/class personalities as to how successful they will be for you.

We praise the positive and this has encouraged him to try to emulate the behaviour of the positive role model. He didn't like stickers so we made 5 teams with 6 children in each team. We made charts with 10 squares for each child and found that if we used a stamper felt pen and allowed him to put on a stamper/2stampers,etc he loved this. ()He does sometimes add his own to try to be the winner but we don't make too much of a thing about this. We have a prize basket for the winner at the end of the week where they can choose a prize. Obviously we don't say he is the winner if another child's points are genuine. As a week is a long time, we have a daily reward certificate too - I have an equal number of boys/girls this year so choose a boy and a girl each day that has made the teachers happy and say why they have won it, clap them,etc. We also have a cuddly class pet with a suitcase that goes to stay at children's houses every weekend and we leave it peeping out of the case and watching the children -they love this!

We also have carpet places and a magic carpet for the child that finds it difficult. Having a specific spot really helped - he is doing so well now that we are trying hime without it now. We use visual cues eyes pic for 'look', ear pic for 'listen' etc and have these as a class thing rather than being directed at the specific child. If he becomes disruptive we try non-verbal signals first because we found that he was demonstrating attention seeking behaviour. There have been times when he pointed to the picture and said 'No Listen!' but we gently remind him it means 'Listen'. We also have a simple visual timetable for parts of the day. I'm not a lover of having thinking chairs,etc but then that's maybe just me. If it was something a very extreme incident then I log/record it and inform the leader of KS1/Headteacher as appropriate and they are very supportive. I would not make anybody miss a whole playtime but have made them wait 2 minutes after their friends on very rare occasions and make that sound like its ages!I think the main thing is to try not to lose the rest of the class through this and give him and all those good ones lots of praise where it's due. If there's incentives for all he may jump on board, you can only try can't you? You need to make sure there is a support network in your setting as you do need to look after yourself in all of this. See if there is a hierarchical system of referral or speak to the SENCO for advice. It sounds like he may be finding the listening times too long after an assembly and you may need to consider the length or timing of inputs. Do you have any support in class? Do they have reward assemblies in school? Hope it all goes alright on Monday and hope some of the ideas help-don't lose hope

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Thanks for replying - it's always nice to hear there are others with the same problems! (if you see what I mean!)

As far as the thinking chair goes, this is a whole-school approach, and whilst in reception it may or may not be appropriate, their actual class teacher will return in May, so I don't want to make too many changes.

I should've made it clear that I'm almost going OTT with praising this child. An example of this is me giving him a class award (children get these for PSHE kind of things throughout the week, to add up to get a class reward at the end of the week) 10 mins in to the day for coming in and getting on so sensibly etc. He does seem to like these and stickers as he tells the other children and says" My Mum will be so pleased won't she".

I agree about the long sitting period: assembly, followed by snack at the table, then sitting for the next lesson. I may see if I can keep him out of assembly as a trial and get him 'helping' me in the classroom or something.

Another thing Mum and I spoke about was his diet, esp. given that the behaviour changes so soon after snack. Teh children have fruit at playtime, then either have milk and a biscuit or squash and a biscuit. This child actually has milk, so it's not the squash that's a problem. Do you know whether one biscuit (e.g. bourbon, custard cream etc.) would affect a child like this? I wouldn't have thought it would be enough to effect him, but I'm no expert. Personally, with fruit at playtime, I don't think they need biscuits, but as I said to my TA (who I have just for mornings) I'm not going to make drastic changes like stopping their snack.

I don't like keeping him in at playtime - and I certainly wouldn't make him miss all of it (though apparently it has been done before) but when it comes to the time he is missing he is upset about it - he just can't seem to make the connection between the behaviour and the sanction.

We're due to have Head lesson obs this week, so I may ask whether he can observe during the last part of the morning. At least then I can see whether it's just me, or it will be a good chance for the Head to see I'm not making it up, as I do wonder whether he thinks I'm over-reacting to the behaviour. :o

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It must be so difficult when you are trying to replace an existing teacher in an established class, maybe this is part of the problem -could the child be missing the usual teacher? I'm surprised the thinking chair is a whole school thing really as I thought this was usually something just used in certain classes, but if it works for them then like you say, you have to fit into their system. We just have fruit and milk in our setting and biscuits are just an occasional treat -not sure if one biscuit could contribute to the behaviour but you never know. The fact he shows emotion when he misses something his friends are doing could be a positive sign that he knows he has done something wrong and I would be quite hopeful that he can change, it would be if he wasn't bothered that I would worry more. Like you say, if you ask your HT for ideas/support they will help and support you -all the best of luck

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I'd cut out biscuits/squash and only give them milk and fruit too, they certainly don't need biscuits and squash isn't great, so offer water instead if they don't like milk.

As he becomes disruptive when sitting for circle times, what about having a whole group "wiggle/jiggle", so that everyone has a moments madness??That way, he isn't getting the pleasure of "showing off" as they're all doing it.You could use it as a counting excercise, say the rocket game all count down from 10 and squeeze yourself down as small as they can (you included!) and then back up again from 1-10 and shout 'blast off!' as you all jump into the air?you can congratulate the whole group when they then sit down quietly for the rest of the session ! worth a try............(and I hope it makes sense!)

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Yes it does make sense Narnia! I have done things like "Lets all get rid of our wriggles ready to sit still for learning", but I have to admit, I haven't consciously done it at 'that point' in the morning, so that's certainly worth a try!

 

Marion - I had just assumed milk was fine - interesting to hear it may not be. He has milk every day at the same time, so we may have to try eliminating milk or biscuits and seeing what effect it has.

 

His actions vary between 'pre-meditated' - in the case of continuing to do something when I've asked him not to; he'll look me in the eye, laugh and repeat the action - obviously attention seeking, but unfortunately getting the wrong sort of attention. At other times, like when he hurts another child, I'm not certain that he does it to deliberately hurt them, but equally, I don't think it's a spacial awareness problem. Does that make sense?

 

I have been told he has a brother 2 years older, who attends a private school as he's supposedly 'gifted and talented'. I do wonder what happens at home, and whether the brother gets a lot more attention than he does.

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The reason I ask is my son is ADHD and it is triggered /worsened by things like milk cereal bread some fruit and vegetables cheese butter .....the list is endless. His behaviour at this age certainly would have fit the pattern you describe.

A friend who's son is autistic also reacts to cows milk gluten etc with pronounced figgitty behaviour

Edited by Marion
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:o I've finally had tears over this child - after the day from hell with him, then battling the freezing wind from the long walk from school to the car (School is a building site, so we have to park off-site), then struggling to unlock the front door with all my baggage, I finally dissolved in to tears (having been close to tears on and off all day).

 

Unfortunately my little character started about 10 mins in to the day today - so much for starting a new week all fresh. I remained calm, firm and focused as I had intended to do, but he has been soooo disruptive and rude I had to remove him from the class, but he's been wanting a game of cat and mouse round the tables (to which I simply told him I was not going to chase him) and when asked to go anywhere he just flopped to the floor. This afternoon all the other children were sat so nicely on the carpet for registration, and he kept coming over and whacking his fist down on their heads. I took the register walking the perimeter of the carpet to protect the children then had to ask a member of staff to come and retrieve him. In a way what was good was that he flopped for her too and refused point blank to walk - it was only when the Head returned and came in that he suddenly found the use of his legs again.

 

Not really any point to my post I'm afraid - just a case of 'getting it out' I suppose. Not a nice way to begin the week, but I shall attempt a smile and a cheery voice for him again in the morning.

 

Thanks for reading this far!

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Oh Chocolate girl, it certainly sounds like a nightmare. Hope something improves soon. Any chance of your SenCo observing? It may be that external behavioural support or Ed Psyc. are needed.

Keep a Diary, as has been suggested, detailing your intervention too, this will be necessary if you are accessing other support.

 

Good luck. Hope tomorrow is better.

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Update:

 

After a nightmare couple of days at the beginning of the week, things have settled. Yesterday was improved; today was better still and it was soooooooo nice to be able to smile at Mum and praise her child in front of her - so much nicer for all concerned.

He has by no means been an angel today, but I can't tell you how much better he has been.

 

I have since found out that Mum started a new job on Monday - apparently the money is needed at home so things may be a little tense there. Also, today the brother was with Mum when she dropped him off; when I asked about it he said he wasn't allowed to go to school because he's been naughty - I'm thinking exclusion. If this is the case and the brother has been playing up, it's likely to have had a knock-on effect.

 

This afternoon I played a made up game with him, which he seemed to enjoy. When we'd finished he said "Maybe we could play this again another time" so I said that we could, and asked whether he wanted to play again now. Anyway, in the end we played his game 3 times. Later on he came up to me and said "I've never played a game with a teacher before." It was so sad. I asked whether his last teacher had played with the children and he said no. What a shame! Anyway, I've said we'll play again some time - I think they could all do with some modelling of playing quite frankly.

 

So I'm much happier about things, but will certainly be glad when the end of tomorrow arrives! :)

 

Thanks for your support with this one!

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Guest tinkerbell

Well done Chocolate girl you are reallly persevering with this one. :)

Do you think there could be parenting problems here? I have a R boy and his brother is in the next class yr2 and they spoil both classes with their behaviour.They both exhibit lots of the behaviours you mention.My little chap even mutters under his breath when we all sit on the carpet and spins around etc.They go to before school and after school,mum and dad have split up, they are so neady.

The Head has now got the school psychologist involved and hopefully all will be made clear as to how to handle them. :o

I shall let you know what the words of wisdom are :)

Tinkerbellx

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The real message here is that every situation has a story, and until you can uncover that story you can never really fully understand or help. At least you now have more facts and can feel that you are really connecting. Keeping my fingers crossed that you continue to make good progress. :)

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