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Supporting good learning behaviour

Advice for Parents and Carers on coping with challenging behaviour

When the children are at school we recognise that negative experiences create negative feelings and that negative feelings create negative behaviour, whilst positive experiences create positive feelings and positive feelings create positive behaviour.  At this time of uncertainty and change it is even more challenging for us all as adults at school and parents to seek to understand the reason why a young person is presenting problematic or complex behaviour.

Below we have listed some strategies and advice which you may find useful when supporting your child through this challenging time.

  • Try to see things from their point of view.  Understanding how children perceive the situation will help you in trying to find a resolution. 

  • Feelings matter- both the children’s emotions and your own are part of any difficult or challenging situation.  It is very helpful to be aware of your own mood as well as the children’s when enjoying yourself with them and during difficult moments. 

  • Don’t expect to be perfect.  Everyone does something they don’t mean to do sometimes.  Children can be forgiving so long as we are thoughtful and kind most of the kind and we are ready to say sorry when we should. 

  • Be clear what you want.  Children need boundaries set by grown-ups who do not change the ground rules to suit their own mood.  The most helpful adults are “firm but fair” people, who stick to “No” when it is important. They also check themselves that they are not saying “No” out of habit, without thinking.

  • Be encouraging about the ‘little things’ and avoid waiting for something that is ‘big enough’ to notice.  Tell children, “Thank you for waiting, you were so patient”, or “Well done you told me how you were feeling, now let’s see what we can do about…”

  • Rewards and treats have a place but need to be used with care.  It is unwise to let children learn to expect ‘payment’ by sweets or anything else, for ordinary consideration and helpfulness.

  • Avoid picking up on every little bit of poor behaviour from your child. Find and say three good things each day that he or she has done.

  • Make sure that your child is confident of your affection, no matter if you have to deal with serious squabbling or a huge mess.  Definitely resist the temptation to say, “I won’t like (or love) you any more if …….” Children need to feel the emotional security that comes with, “I like you, but I don’t like what you’ve just done to ……” 

  • Be ready to step in and stop unkindness or physical hurt between children.  But stay calm – in your face, your gestures and your voice.

  • Avoid assumptions about who started it or is most to blame.  So often you do not know for certain.

  • Recognise children’s strong feelings by saying, “Darren, I can see you’re upset and Sandra, I know you are cross” you could then add, “But that does not make it alright to hit each other”.  Then ask in a calm way “What happened here?”, or “I can see there is problem about the bike…….”

  • Listen to each child fairly and help by asking “What can we do about this problem?”  Together you will find a less disruptive way to resolve the situation. 

  • Deal in consequences rather than punishment.  Any consequences need to make sense, given the children’s behaviour.  Children feel resentful if they lose some TV time if earlier in the day they were “really cheeky”.  This artificial consequence operates as a punishment and they will maybe say, “You are unfair!” Instead you might expect ask the child to plan and think about how they will speak adn then praise them when they do

  • Finally deal with the child’s behaviour at the time and avoid harking back.  Think about how you would feel if there was no fresh start when you made a mistake.