Seven Tips for Addressing Disruptive Behaviors in Class

A growing number of young children are displaying challenging behaviors in class settings, some of which include tantrums, biting, withdrawal, noncompliance, hitting and yelling, Often, these behaviors can disrupt young children in developing social competency and establishing strong social networks.

Today, 10% of all children in preschool continue exhibiting challenging behaviors during inappropriate times. When these behaviors fail to stop and continue uninhibited, they could have long-term adverse effects on all children involved. Some of the negative outcomes could include social rejection, mental health risks, lack of academic success, future drug abuse, and embracing crime in adulthood. To help with this issue, below are seven ways of addressing disruptive behaviors among young children in class.

Keeping class rules simple and clear

Research has shown that preschool children are 3.2 times more likely to be expelled from school than school-age kids. Classroom-based consultation, which includes teachers keeping the class rules as simple and definite as possible, has proved effective at reducing expulsion rates. In fact, educationists recommend using the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) approach. PBS is team-based and allows teachers and preschool-age kids to operate as a team by forming rules that everyone can understand and adhere to.

Reward positive behaviors

Rewarding positive behaviors is also integral to the success of PBS. Children who exhibit positive behavior need all the support they can get from their teachers and parents alike. Thus far, PBS has received universal approval for use in educational settings and social service environments that cater to children and teens who display challenging behavior. In preschool-age children, PBS is not highly practiced but has been shown as an effective method for addressing disruptive behavior in the classroom.

Strengthen connections between students and adults in the school setting

At times, family involvement in a student’s life may be limited, therefore when students are able to build a connected relationship with at least one adult in the school, they gain an outlet for expressing thoughts of depression and discussing other issues that may otherwise cause disruptive classroom behavior if left unaddressed. Training school staff to be more receptive to forming meaningful connections with students, and building an open line of communication between the adults and students is a strong base for a positive and supportive school culture. This positive school culture will, in turn, reinforce a positive learning environment that is open, caring and nurturing. This type of environment is far more capable of dismissing the students’ desires to act in a disruptive manner.

Use motivational techniques to encourage cooperation with teachers and peers

Some positive motivation techniques may be in the form of warnings and repeated practice. Children displaying challenging behaviors do not want to cooperate with teachers or their peers, yet it is often up to the teacher to offer encouragement. The teacher can do this by issuing behavioral expectations that each child should abide by. Clarifying the expectations is essential for ensuring the children understand the routine they should be following in the classroom. Motivational techniques include encouraging children not to leave a designated area without the teacher’s permission, as well as rewarding students when they perform well in class.

Provide social and mental health supports for students facing bullying

When bullying becomes an issue in a school setting, it can create an atmosphere of fear that permeates every aspect of the student experience. Though children may often disregard the impact of their aggressive behavior or be entirely ignorant of the dangers of bullying, this fearful environment can lead to diminished self-esteem and confidence in the affected students. When students who are victimized by bullying become too frustrated with their situation, they themselves may begin showing violent or otherwise aggressive and disruptive behavior towards their peers. By implementing accessible mental and social health resources, such as counselors and psychologists, the school community can actively identify and prevent cases of bullying that may have otherwise lead to disruptive behaviors among students.

Have pre-established consequences for misbehavior

An important part of PBS is informing children about the implications of any challenging behavior they exhibit. Part of the teacher’s duty is pre-establishing a list of the consequences that befall any child who misbehaves. For example, when the teacher issues a transition signal, each child should understand their expected behavior. Teachers are free to use different signals to communicate the change, some of which may include auditory, physical, visual or gestural components.

Treat each student, no matter the behavior, with respect and patience

Lastly, it’s essential that each teacher remains impartial. Exhibiting patience and treating each child with respect is essential. Remember, implementing PBS fully in each classroom creates opportunities for each student to behave well.

When teachers remain consistent and poised, students have been shown to respond well to classrooms that embrace and implement positive behavior supports in a thorough fashion. For educators currently managing disruptive behaviors, it may be helpful to implement some or all of these tips noted above.

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