Most, if not all, teachers have experienced having a defiant child in their class at some point or another. If you are unlucky, you’ve had several at once! Here are some steps for handling defiant behaviour effectively.
1. Pinpoint the actual behaviours that make you classify that child as “defiant.” Is it shouting out? Refusing to do as you ask? Ignoring you? Hurting other children? Running away from you or the class? It needs to be specific in your mind and the child’s mind what is acceptable and what is not, and remember that it is those behaviours that are problematic, not the child him/herself.
2. Figure out the “why”. Why is this child engaging in these behaviours? Is it: To get attention? To get a reaction? Is it their way of saying “look at me”?
To get out of doing things you have asked? To avoid doing things they don’t like? To be able to leave class?
Because someone has something they want? Because they were asked to share?
Just for the sake of going against what you have said? Because they want to do things their way?
3. Make sure that they never achieve what they intend to achieve and what they have achieved in the past when they engage in those behaviours. Follow through on every request you make or demand you place. The sooner the child learns that the boundaries with you are firm, the better.
4. Let them know what the appropriate behaviours are, and set up rewards for those. For example, “If I don’t hear any arguing from you today, but instead I hear you using nice words when you talk to me, you can have 10 minutes in the fantasy corner before home time.” The reward has to be meaningful to the child! This is the reason rewards charts / sticker charts often fail – the reward isn’t meaningful enough to the child. You have to figure out what their ‘currency’ is and what is within your control to deliver or withhold.
5. Praise them throughout the day for every desirable behaviour. For example, “Thanks for picking up that piece of paper! You’re super helpful!” This builds momentum for further good behaviour.
6. Get everyone on the same page as you. Let other members of staff know what your plan is and ask them to do the same.
Note that this is a plan that is likely to work, but there are idiosyncrasies to each child’s behaviour. If you have a child in your class who you believe can benefit from a tailor-made behaviour intervention plan, please get in touch with The Star Academy.