” You don’t have to be naughty to be noticed”

This is what a year 6 boy aged 11 told the teaching assistant in his class at the end of his last year at primary school. He had always found school difficult and would demonstrate this through his often challenging behaviour which would ensure he odd get noticed. He was disruptive in class, argumentative to school staff and found friendships with other children hard to manage.

I spent time with the teaching assistant and his class teacher explaining to them some of the possible reasons behind his behaviour and why he may be acting in this way. He is the youngest of six children and comes from a family where it is acceptable to shout and talk over other people in order to be heard. I identified that he needed help to understand there are other ways he can get his needs met and suggested that the teaching assistant spend time with home everyday working on a project with another child where he would be ale to practice skills such as listening, waiting his turn etc. which he found difficult. The teacher identified a child who would act as a role model and enable him to develop a friendship within a safe and supportive environment.

The daily practice of these skills, working together to make a book about dinosaurs which was chosen by him, enabled him to feel more positive about himself and to share his ideas in a way that built his confidence and self esteem. His relationship with his class teacher improved as she was able to show interest in his project. For this child and others like him who have learnt negative and often destructive ways of getting their needs met at school, an alternative and nurturing opportunity to meet their need for attention can enable them to make positive changes to their behaviour. This was clearly demonstrated by his comment after completing his project with the teaching assistant and making a new friend.

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