Is Behaviour Still An Issue in the Classroom?

In this blog post, we will be taking a closer look at the behaviour element from the Be A Star service. Perhaps this is the biggest challenge that you as a parent or teacher recognised in your child or perhaps this is a challenge you recognise in your child’s or your own classroom. The Teacher Voice Omnibus held a survey in 2013 which found that a quarter of teachers in the UK struggle with behavioural issues in their classroom. This not only affects the child and teacher, but also has many flow-on effects beyond the classroom.

There are many reasons as to why children misbehave in the classroom – some of them simple and some of them complex. Many teachers who are experiencing this misbehaviour in their classrooms are finding it challenging to deal with. On one hand, they want to be able to help the child and identify why they are acting out, but on the other hand, they often don’t have enough resources to be tending to these children individually as there are the rest of the children in the classroom to take care of.

Psychological disorders and mental illness is on the rise in young people, including children. The most common mental health disorders in children are depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and more. This can contribute hugely to the behaviour of a child in the classroom. This behaviour can range from anything to crying, yelling, withdrawing and bullying to refusing to partake in activities, sleeping in class and being constantly loud. The wellbeing of a child is only worsened when they are experiencing mental health issues and this leads to a downward spiral.

 

Tips to help children with mental health disorders in the classroom:

  • Promote the importance of well-being: It is important that as a teacher, you do not focus solely on a child’s grades. Their success at school also comes from their personal growth and sense of happiness.
  • Use the buddy system: Assigning a buddy (classmate) to each child ensures everyone feels like they have someone watching out for them and caring about them. The buddy system allows a child to form a bond and trust with a fellow classmate and if they are having a bad day, they feel like they have someone there to talk to.
  • Include physical exercise in your lesson: Physical movement and exercise is a natural way of getting the endorphins flowing in people, including children. Studies have shown that kids who get an adequate amount of exercise per day often suffer less from mental health disorders and have a better overall sense of confidence.
  • Avoid embarrassment: If there is a child that you are aware is suffering from a mental health issue, take them outside the classroom and into the hallway if they are misbehaving in class. Reprimanding them in front of the other children may be embarrassing for them. It is important that they understand they their behaviour is the problem – not them.

A huge reason as to why children take their bad behaviour into the classroom stems from boredom. A child will most likely put up with boredom to an extent if they have been taught that it is really important for them to be at school to learn, but a child whose parents or carers have not put a huge emphasis on the importance of schooling will not put up with boredom. If a child sees school as a ‘bore’, they will often misbehave to alleviate the feelings of boredom. Sometimes, a child can also lack motivation at school, causing them to act out. A lot of teachers think that boredom and a lack of motivation go hand-in-hand, but often, this is not actually the case. If a child is not motivated, it may be because they have a fear of failure, find the work too hard or are experiencing a learning difficulty.

 

Tips to combat boredom and lack of interest in the classroom:

  • Make the work seem real and meaningful: Kids of all ages find they can relate better to what they are learning if it relates to their day-to-day lives or if it something that will relate to their daily lives later on in life. It makes them think about the topic on a deeper level.
  • Incorporate all the human senses: A learning journey that involves more than just seeing and hearing is overall more stimulating for a child. For example, use blindfolds to ignite the sense and touch sense or use certain smells.
  • Meet the kids halfway: It often works to your advantage if you ask the class to work really hard and silently for 20 minutes and then they will get a 5-minute break to chat before getting back to work again. Children like to work for rewards.

Another major reason why children misbehave in the classroom is from peer pressure. Children naturally want to move with the herd and ‘fit in’ with the group. No one wants to be considered or branded an ‘outsider’, especially kids, who are trying to win the approval of their friends and peers. Those seen as outsiders feel they are leaving themselves open to bullying from other children and this is a big motivation for misbehaving. Perhaps the child gets a laugh from their peers when misbehaving or positive reinforcement. This gives the child a certain status among the students, encouraging them to continue their behaviour.

 

Tips to combat peer pressure in the classroom:

  • Practice praise: If the class is acting up, spend time positively praising and rewarding those students who are not involved with the antics. NB. If there is bullying going on, it is important not to single out students who could then fall victim to bullying from others.
  • Reinforce positivity on the ringleader: While we are not suggesting rewarding bad behaviour, we are suggesting decreasing the negative focus on the ringleader. The ringleader is often the child that encourages others to misbehave with them. If you can form a positive relationship with the ringleader and can get them to behave better, the rest will follow. Figure out what triggers their behaviour and find ways to curb those triggers.

Most importantly, it is important that children at school feel safe, supported and loved. Their behaviour usually starts to shift in a positive direction if all three of those core feelings are being met. For more tips and strategies on how to deal with kids misbehaving in the classroom, download our free E-book.

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/mar/24/behaviour-is-a-national-problem-in-schools-in-england-review-finds
  2. https://media.bloomsbury.com/rep/files/online_-_why_do_students_misbehave_pr.pdf
  3. https://www.schoolbag.sg/story/when-family-problems-affect-children-in-school
  4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/nurturing-resilience/201008/why-disruptive-children-misbehave-school
  5. http://ourhealthyminds.com/family-handbook/managing-mental-illness/children-and-youth-in-school.html
  6. https://vantagepointrecovery.com/students-with-mental-health-disorders/

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