“You can’t teach children to behave better by making them feel worse. When children feel better they will behave better” Pam Leo, Connection Parenting
All children will go through periods of disruptive behaviour, however the more often the behaviour occurs the more likely the child will be labelled as “naughty” or “disruptive.” It is important to remember that the child’s behaviour does not always reflect the child them self, but instead reflects their experiences, their emotional development and the relationships that they have.
There are many reasons for a child’s behaviour to become disruptive such as tiredness, hunger or lack of communication. It is the role of the practitioner to interpret and understand the behaviour and work with the child and their parents to move forward.
Here are 4 top tips in understanding disruptive behaviour.
The best way to understand a child’s behaviour is to observe them. Practitioners are able to understand the child’s like and dislikes, routine and development stage through plenty of observations. It is a good idea to vary the type of observations carried out in order to gain lots of information on the child. A helpful tool to use when observing disruptive behaviour is an ABC behaviour chart. This enables the practitioner to think about and evidence the child’s behaviour and their surroundings before, during and after an incident or outburst. This will support the practitioner in recognising any familiar themes or patterns in the child’s behaviour and what may trigger the child to behaviour in that way.
Speak to the child
As children get older they will begin to understand their feelings and make links between action and consequence. If the child is old enough it is worth talking to the child about their behaviour and finding out why they are acting in a particular way. Visual emotion cards are a great way to communicate with the child about their feelings and find out the different reactions that they have to certain situations. This can help the child to understand their emotions and begin to deal with them independently, building their emotional maturity.
Liaise with parents
Parents are crucial when tackling disruptive behaviour. As a child’s main caregivers, parents will understand their child best. Behaviour can be affected by a range of situations or experiences so it is a good idea to speak to parents to find out what the child’s home life is currently like. Small changes such as a later bedtime or big changes such as a new baby sibling will affect all children differently. Parents may be able to give the practitioner an insight into why the child’s behaviour may have changed, enabling the adults to work together in supporting the child through a transition.
Alternative was to display the behaviour
Finding the root cause of a child’s disruptive behaviour is great, however you may not always be able to do so. behaviour can be erratic and simply be the child trying out different reactions to understand their emotional boundaries. It is a good idea to allow the child to express all of their feelings, even anger or frustration, in order for them to develop emotionally. The practitioner should look for common actions in the child’s behaviour, for example a child that gets upset or angry may react by emptying all of the boxes on the floor in a temper or may throw toys at the wall. The practitioner can support these reactions in a positive way by offering activities where the child is able to release these emotions in a safe and positive way. These activities may include filling and emptying balls into a large container or throwing beanbags into a tray.
It is important to look at the child’s behaviour and take into consideration all of the contributing factors. Working with parents can support the practitioner in dealing with the unwanted behaviour and teaching the child alternative ways to respond.