This is what a teacher said to me this week after I had spent several sessions with her discussing the behaviour of a 10 year old in her class. His behaviour is challenging, disruptive and at times very difficult to manage. He is confrontational to her and other members of school staff and is constantly questioning why they are doing things in the class if it involves a change. I suggested that she make time to spend with him outside of the structured class time and invested in developing a relationship with him. I explored with her some of the possible reasons and feelings around his behaviour and what he may be trying to communicate by this, such as anxiety, fear and worry, often resulting in low self-esteem. I acknowledged that it can be extremely difficult to imagine that this may be what a child is feeling; when their behaviour may lead you to believe they are not bothered about anything or the opposite of this is true.
The teacher spent time with him every day, creating special jobs and tasks for him to do and focusing on getting to know him and acknowledging his positive role in this. I also suggested she provide him with plenty of warning and detailed explanations when any changes were occurring. She gradually began to notice some small changes in his behaviour, he was less confrontational, more settled and appeared to be managing changes more easily. I reminded her how difficult it can be for us as adults to manage change at times, and how this can result in us feeling scared and anxious, but as we have the language skills to talk about this if we choose to it can affect us less than it does children, who are less able to communicate their fears and anxieties with language.