Let’s face it, the days of ‘children should be seen and not heard’ are well and truly over. These days, children expect to be consulted, reasoned and negotiated with when they misbehave and there are sound psychological reasons for this. Giving children a voice and engaging them in behaviour improvement is more likely to be successful than the old school, ‘you can’t behave like that because I said so.’
Follow these 4 easy steps and you should soon see a marked improvement in students’ behaviour.
Identify the problem
You know that snatching a book or hitting a classmate is unacceptable but does the student? Support the child who behaves in this way to name their anti social behaviour and, more importantly to understand why it’s anti social. It’s vital for you, the adult to be non-judgemental or to raise your voice as this will discourage the child from speaking freely. Remember too it is the behaviour which is wrong, not the child.
There are 100 ways to skin a cat
Know that old saying? Well same goes for dealing with a problem. Encourage the student to explore different, non aggressive ways of behaving. In particular, help the child to express requests reasonably, to cooperate and to share. For example, they could say to a classmate ‘When will you be done with that book? I would really like to read it.’ This approach is more likely to get a positive response and maintain peace and love in the classroom. Remember to model the way you would like your students to behave. They can learn a lot from you.
Figure out a plan of action
So you and the student have talked things over. Now’s the time to come up with a plan of action, so next time, young Jamal or Rosie feels like snatching, punching, hitting, whatever, the plan kicks in. Words, not fists or feet are the key here. You too play a key role in anticipating situations when the antisocial behaviour could occur so things don’t run wildly out of control. A ‘secret’ code word for the child to implement the agreed plan? Could work. When the child is calm, get them to practise what they are going to say in potential conflict situations, so they are super familiar with the formula. ‘Forewarned is forearmed’ as the saying goes. So true!
Review and praise
Is the plan actually working? If not, review things and tweak. If things are going well, praise, praise and then praise some more. Seriously, you can never praise good behaviour too much or too often. The thing here is this: students often seek attention by behaving badly because to some children any attention, even negative is better than no attention. The aim is for them to receive attention when they switch to behaving well. Everyone loves praise, so the ‘p’ word is a massive motivator to carry on with the desired behaviour. Make sense?
So there you have the 4 step guide to improving behaviour. Pretty straightforward, right? The student will feel empowered and learn some important life lessons: actions have consequences and each of us needs to take responsibility for our actions. After all, childhood is a training ground for the rest of life. The sooner we get to grips with acceptable behaviour, the better. True or not?