Teachers handling problem behaviour at school

Being an educator, you will be faced with children who present with problem behaviour. More often than not, children will do anything to get attention, even if it calls for negative behaviour.

Handling problem behaviour effectively is a challenge. You may wonder what the cause is for this behaviour, why does the child choose to behave this way and how are you going to solve the problem?

To get angry, to raise your voice or to threaten, will do more harm than good. The first important step is to stay calm and in control; you are the teacher!

Listen to what the child has to say; verbally and non-verbally. Often their body language communicates a lot of emotions.

You can ask yourself the following questions: What was the child’s motive for his behaviour? Was it a judgemental error, peer pressure or to get your attention to other problems they might face? Does this child receive the necessary support from home or the community? Sometimes children seek your attention when they need your support for social-, emotional- or other problems. Also keep in mind that children have a need to fit into the group and they will do almost anything to experience a sense of belonging amongst peers.

Communicate with the parents. Often they are not aware of the child’s behaviour at school or they might also be desperate to find a solution to help the child. They might even feel the need to deny that there is a problem. Parents also need your support and understanding.

Nevertheless, the child should be held responsible for his behaviour. Talk to the child about the reason/s why his behaviour is not acceptable and the possible consequences he might have to face due to his behaviour. Get the parents on board regarding discipline and possible solutions for what might be the cause for the child’s behaviour.

Guide the child with love and respect. She needs to know you care and that you are not the enemy.
Be the teacher of responsibilities by following these guidelines:

  • Have a few clear classroom rules.
  • Apply consistent, effective discipline. Set clear boundaries and discipline accordingly.
  • Give chores to do e.g. to open the windows, help you carry books or tidy up the classroom. This might also give you a little extra one-on-one time to have conversation with the child.
  • Ask the child what he or she feels need to change in order for him or her to behave differently.
  • Give guidance when social situations call for it e.g. sharing, conflict management and handling disappointment.
  • Help him to set reachable goals and take responsibility for it. Keep in mind that every child has different abilities. Take small steps towards improvement and show your support.
  • You might have to break up big challenges into smaller parts to make it more achievable and less overwhelming.
  • Be cautious not to be unreasonably critical.
  • Praise efforts and achievements.
  • Ensure that the child’s basic needs are met e.g. food, clothing, love and support.
  • Keep a short-hand book to record discussions, incidents and follow-ups for later references.
  • Build a trusting relationship with the child, you might be the only adult that do so.
  • Refer the parents and child to a professional if it is needed.
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops” Henry Adams

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