Faced With Challenging Children - Don't Dither Or You're Done For!!

By Liz Marsden

I guess I'm prone to exaggerating a tad, but there's a lot of truth in this... Again a casual chat took me along this line of thinking and I remembered my own experiences when I was having difficulties managing children's challenging behaviour.

I was having a chat at work with a colleague who enjoys taking her deer hound to dog shows. The dog's not very old, but between them they've won a fair few prizes. At a recent show the judge showed nerves when handling the dog - well they do get a bit personal around the dog's 'bits and bobs' don't they? It doesn't lead to a very good interaction with dogs! Anyway, the dog reacted to her nerves (dithering) and growled - she didn't bite or do anything awful, but she was clearly making her displeasure known! Now, she's not a nasty dog at all, in fact she's so calm and relaxed, growling at anyone is the last thing she would normally do... The judge backed away and commented, 'She didn't like that, did she?' It was quite likely that she blamed the poor dog...

And this you'll be asking what's this dog tale got to do with managing kids' behaviour? Well, kids react the same way as the dog - if you dither, you're doomed!! The dog's reaction to the judge brought to mind an incident not long after I started working with very challenging children.

That long ago I had so much to learn to become effective and confident in managing problem children - now the incident wouldn't get to that stage! Anyway, one boy was having major problems and was so unhappy. He'd got into trouble for something in class and had gone outside, and once there picked up a discarded skipping rope which he promptly put around his neck and went to pull it tighter. How did I react? Lack of confidence and skill caused me to dither - I simply didn't know what to do! Another teacher, far more experienced at that time, walked purposefully to the boy, chatting to him, 'Dear me, let me take that from you so that you don't hurt yourself.' I can't remember her exact words, but you get the idea.

What happened then? Well, he simply allowed the adult to take control - he sensed her confidence and this made him feel safe. He didn't think to question what she'd asked. She kept on talking to him all the time, 'I couldn't imagine how the others would feel if any harm should come to you. We'd all miss you so much I you weren't here - we all think so much of you. Come on now, and let's make sure you keep safe.' And that was it - incident over and sorted out!

That isn't to say that this is the right way to act in all situations if you have self harm threatened. How incidents are dealt with depends on you relationship with the child, what's preceded the incident and at what point you intervene, plus other considerations.

But, what I am saying is that children (and dogs) need you to be decisive, in control, and be someone they can trust to keep them safe and secure. You have to know how to manage children's behaviour in a way that ensures they can feel this way. This takes knowledge of behaviour management techniques that give you confidence to be able to manage (and even better, prevent) challenging behaviour. It's not difficult - learn the strategies, practise them until they're instinctive and use them with total consistency - 31520

About the Author:

Sign Up for our Free Newsletter

Enter email address here