Do you know?
Even before the pandemic, at least 50 million children in India were affected by mental health issues, and 80-90% have not sought support. Young children in schools can be naughty, impulsive, and defiant. However, some children show challenging behaviour like frequent temper tantrums, disobedience, anxiety, distraction, and destruction of school property. Hence, it would be relevant to address the behavioural issues among children.
Factors responsible for Child Behavioural issues at school:
- Caste/ class/racial
- Social biases
- Family relationships
- Social experiences
- Educator-student relationships
- Lack of care and attention
- Covid Pandemic
It is important to understand a child’s behaviour at school and address it time-to-time as it has long-term detrimental implications on children’s academic achievements, overall growth, and also the school environment.
Measures to address child behavioural issues at school:
1. Reach out to parents for support:
Parents are the first mentors of the child and have immense contribution and responsibility towards shaping the child’s personality. Keep parents consistently in the loop when children misbehave, and ask them to establish similar rules at home that you have at school.
Parents must take interest in their children’s interests and actively indulge with children at home. They must encourage children to share their daily routines and emotions.
2. Model the behaviour you expect:
Children copy and follow their surroundings. It might be TV characters, parents, society, and teachers. Be a positive role model.
Educators can demonstrate acts of kindness, and empathy, articulate their emotions, tell stories to establish morals, dress appropriately, keep words and promises, avoid overusing mobile and social media, and use appropriate language. Most of the time, children try to act like elders. These steps can promote positive behaviour in children.
3. Turn Negative instruction into positive:
“Stop shouting” such instruction can make students behave negatively, teachers can convey or speak in a moderate voice and tone. Instructions work better when it is told what should be done instead of what should not.
When children act negatively, try to find out the reason instead of just punishing them.
Communicate positive behaviour through activities rather than directly telling them and use positive sentences while giving them instructions. This will improve the child’s behaviour at school.
4. Praise Child’s positive behaviour at school:
Children seek attention and appreciation, when they don’t get it they are likely to show disturbing behaviour. The best way to eliminate bad behaviour is to appreciate good behaviour. Children eventually understand bad behaviour is unacceptable and good behaviour is praised.
Ex- “Thank you for raising your hand” such conversation develops a sense of belonging in children. Choose the behavior you want to change and rewards that students might like. When a child behaves well, tell them they have done well and show the rest of the class how proud you are. Children are more likely to behave positively to get a similar reaction.
5. Get to the root cause:
Behaviour is a way of communication for a child. When a child displays challenging behaviour, it is important to understand how frequently the behaviour occurs, what can be the cause, in which circumstances it occurs, and how extreme it is.
Getting to the root can help teachers decide on measures to be taken. Have one-on-one with the child, and take the support of parents and their peers to understand the root of disruptive behavior.
6. Value children’s opinions:
Students show disruptive behaviour because they feel no control over their life and sometimes feel less valued. Allow children to express their opinion, this will make them feel worthy and respected, and eventually, they will respect others’ opinions. At the start of school, teachers should involve students and should work together to establish a class code of conduct.
Discuss the different types of behaviour that you think are acceptable and unacceptable and how you want students to act towards each other, such as treating each other with respect. Write this up and display it in the classroom, so students can always see it. Students are not likely to break rules created on their own and feel valued and in control over their classroom engagement.
7. Teach Social-Emotional Skills:
When a child shows frequent emotional outbursts, this could be a sign that the child hasn’t yet developed skills to cope with feelings like frustration, anxiety, and anger. Many students struggle to identify their emotions and triggers, which makes them behave inappropriately. Since emotions are abstract, children find it difficult to manage them and calm down.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills help the child to identify their emotions and navigate them correctly, developing compassion for themselves and others. According to research SEL skills showed a 9% improvement in classroom behaviour and a 10% decrease in emotional distress.
SEL can be taught through various activities, teachers can ask children to write poetry, perform drama, and draw paintings to express their feelings.
8. Encourage movement:
Various mental health issues could be seen in children due to school closures and pandemics, one of the major reasons is a reduction in physical activities. In the class after 15-20 min of sitting, children lose attention and show issues like becoming tired or seemingly lazy, unable to retain information, and disruptive.
Regular short activity breaks, energisers throughout the school day can be an effective way to reduce disruptive behaviour. If students are feeling bored and are disturbing the class, give them a few exercises and brain breaks to stimulate mood and curiosity.
Children are the Nation-builders. Addressing the behavioural problems is necessary, if it is not addressed on time, they can become chronic and persistent in adolescence and adulthood.