Helping children who are overly controlling feel in control

Some children in our schools may present controlling and manipulative behaviour that can be frustrating and difficult to manage. They may attempt to challenge school staff, change the class routine or control other children as a way of feeling safe and in charge. Kai aged 10 regularly demonstrated this behaviour and was particularly difficult around any changes that were happening in class. As a looked after child he had experienced an abrupt removal from living with his mum, then a brief period in emergency foster care until a more permanent placement was found for him. These changes have been completely out of his control and are certainly not of his choosing, therefore it makes perfect sense that he would be trying to control other aspects of his life whenever he has the chance.

I encouraged his class teacher to let him know in advance of any changes where possible and acknowledge to him how difficult this was for him, so he may feel she has some understanding of him and his difficulties. I also suggested she offer him lots of choice throughout the day so he at least feels he has control over some aspects of his life, however small.

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