Tag Archives: Behaviourally Challenged

Managing behaviourally challenged pupils

All children will challenge rules and authority at times often just to test the boundaries, and althought they break the rules and say they hate them, children need rules to make them feel secure. To teach young children how to behave you can try to make it like a game; for example when you want the children to stop and listen you might hold up your palm and have the children do the same. You might teach them that when you hold up one finger it means stand up, two fingers means push your chair in and stand behind it while three means sit down. Doing this means you don’t have to raise your voice!

Other ideas which avoid oral confrontation include using a stop watch each time the lesson is interrupted. The time is taken off some of the children’s choice time, e.g. breaktime, free play etc.

Try drawing a graph on the board with x and y lines. Make a line across the the x line which is the acceptable noise level. Each time the noise goes above this place an x above the line. You could also mark below the line if noise is specially low. Helps the children understand graphs as well as improve their behaviour.

  • Try to make instructional language simple, e.g. STOP, LOOK, WAIT
  • Be definite when you want them to do something, e.g. I need you to …. This shows that the child doesn’t have a choice – this is something which has to be done.
  • Give limited choices, sit on this chair or that chair. Are you going to do the writing or the drawing first?
  • Where possible, don’t respond orally to bad behaviour, e.g. take the object they are fiddling with off him while continuing to talk to others.
  • Remember anger is temporary and is normal. The child will calm down again.
  • Time out seems to work for young children. A child who isn’t behaving appropriately is made to stand/sit away from activity for a number of minutes equal to their age.
  • Older pupils may work in a yellow/red card system where the yellow card is placed on their desk as a warning.
  • Try to avoid the anger rising – find opportunities for praising good behaviour. Make sure you say what you are praising, e.g. Well done for sitting quietly in your chair.
  • If you see a potential anger situation arising, try to get in first and say something positive.

Photo of Art Class

  • Ignore the bad behaviour if possible. After incident try to get opportunity to praise.
  • Move closer to the pupil or ask if he/she needs help.
  • Ease tension with a joke but not sarcasm. Try to develop non-verbal language for praise, e.g. thumbs up.
  • Try to show you understand the reasons for him/her being angry but suggest alternative methods of showing it, e.g. words or drawings.
  • Try to have an exit plan – maybe the pupil will be asked to ‘go on an errand’.
  • Do not ‘bear a grudge’ – let the pupil see that once incident is over then he/she starts with a clean slate.
  • Discuss with group what they feel is causing the anger. Perhaps they can suggest strategies which might help to avoid the situation happening.

Useful Information

A Violence Prevention Curriculum
Behaviour Assessment Tool
Behaviour Charter Template
Ideas for P.S.E. Citizenship Studies
Individual Behaviour Plans (blank example)
(completed example)
Promoting and Sustaining Good Behaviour in Schools
Making Positive Rules
Anger Management Practical Guide (source: Anger Management A Practical Guide by Faupel, Herrick and Sharp)
Becoming a good Listener – template sheet for PSE
Identifying Problem Behaviour Checklist
Learning for Life
Pupil Motivation Checklist
TOOT Observation Sheet – tick sheet for inappropriate behaviour
Social, emotional and behavioural skills
Behaviour Support Toolkit

Further Information

Behaviour for Learning – a website resource for teachers

Emotionally Disturbed/Behavioural Problems

The behaviour of children with problems of this kind is likely to vary from situation to situation and from day to day.  One day the child may seem quiet and withdraw and refuse to engage in conversation, answering only with a grunt.  Other days they can seem friendly and sociable.  They may seem unable to control their emotions and are likely to have aggressive outbursts.  They can be very sensitive and because their self-esteem is low cannot ‘take a joke’. They are more likely to see it as a criticism.  They may also act as if they expect to be blamed for everything and have a persecution complex.  They often have little regard for the feelings of others and can be bullying or aggressive to others.

If appropriate strategies to help these pupils are not put in place, they are at risk of suspension or even expulsion (NI) (RoI).

Case Studies

Teaching Strategies

People who can help: SENCO/Resource Teacher


Further Information

Won’t they just grow out of it? (source: The Child Physiotherapy Trust)



Behaviourally Challenged Pupils

Children may fall into this category for all sorts of reasons.  They are likely to have some or many other difficulties which cause frustration and lead to undesirable behaviour.  They may have difficulties socialisation with other people; they may find it hard to accept authority; they may be looking for attention or they may be using avoidance tactics to get out of doing something which is causing frustration. *see also emotional/behavioural difficulties.

The kind of behaviour that is often exhibited would include shouting out at inappropriate times in class, bad language, refusal to do what is asked, annoying other children, refusal to sit down, demanding of immediate attention, destroying of property.

If appropriate strategies to help these pupils are not put in place, they are at risk of suspension or even expulsion (NI) (RoI).

Case Studies

Teaching Strategies

People who can help: SENCO/Resource Teacher


Further Information

Challenging Behaviour and Cerebral Palsy (useful for general info too)


Challenging Behaviour and Learning Disabilities

Promoting and sustaining good behaviour in schools

If all efforts to control a situation through good behaviour management have failed, in extreme circumstances you can use physical means to prevent injury.

Article 4 of the Education Act 1998 enables a member of staff to use reasonable force to prevent a pupil committing an offence, to prevent him causing injury to himself, to anyone else or to property.

A member of staff can mean a teacher, classroom assistant, caretaker, supervisor or any other staff member given instructions by the principal to look after pupils.


If you are aware of a pupil who is at risk of needing restrained then the principal and Board of Governors should plan for such an event.  Parents should be involved and should know what action the school might need to take.  All staff should know what action to take.

Reasonable force is the minimum necessary to prevent the injury.  Due regard must be paid to the dignity of the pupil.  It is important to take into consideration the age, size, understanding etc. of the pupil.

Reasonable force should be a last resort when nothing else will defuse the situation.  E.g.

Pupils attacking each other or a teacher.

A pupil in danger of causing injury through using dangerous materials.

The use of reasonable force in these cases might be the interjection of a teacher between the opposing pupils or teacher and pupil, holding, leading a pupil by the arm, blocking the path of the pupil or by shepherding away with a hand in the small of the back.

Restraint should only be used if the pupil is incapable of self-restraint and they should be told throughout that as soon as they calm down they will be let go.

If restraint has been used it is vital that a detailed, written record is made and a copy given and discussed with parents.

Further Information