Try alternative ways to respond to children’s behaviour

In my work I am always encouraging school staff to try different strategies to deal with children’s behaviour. It can be easy in life to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them and harder to be brave enough to experiment with another way. However, the significant relationships between school’s staff and children that can occur in school settings enable both children and staff to experiment with this concept. The more that school staff can get to know and understand the children in their care, the more they will be able to develop appropriate responses to behaviour to meet the child’s needs.

Case study

Hannah aged 6 found it very hard to sit on her chair. She would lean from side to side, sit up on her knees and rock on it, occasionally falling off.

Teacher response

Her class teacher understood that this was something that Hannah found difficult and needed help with and acknowledged this to her by saying “I can see it’s really hard for you to sit still on your chair, I’m wondering if we should spend some time together to see if I can help to make it easier for you.” The teacher spent time showing Hannah where to put her feet so they could be settled comfortably on the floor and explored with her how this felt.


Hannah responded to this help from her teacher by becoming more aware of how she was sitting and with gentle reminders such as “I’m wondering if you need a bit more help with your chair?” was able to manage sitting at the table more easily.

Whilst this teacher response may not have had the same effect with other children, if school staff are able to think for a minute before responding to behaviour, they may be able to adapt their responses to meet the child’s individual needs. This may result in the child feeling more understood and have a positive outcome for both staff and child.

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