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Underlying Causes of Challenging Behaviour in Schools

This presentation, designed for delivery as part of the NPSLBA programme, looks at underlying causes of unacceptable behaviour - and encourages staff to think analytically about what might be happening in their classroom. For more resources around this topic:

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Underlying Causes of Challenging Behaviour in Schools

  1. 1. © Matt Grant, 2012 Underlying Causes ofChallenging BehaviourSocial & Emotional Factors
  2. 2. © Matt Grant, 2012 How is behaviour shaped?“Behaviour does not occur within a vacuum. It is resultant of complex transaction between individual, with his (her) inborn strengths and weakness, acting and reacting within an environment which sometimes encourages and sometimes discourages certain actions.” (Herbert, 1988:49)
  3. 3. © Matt Grant, 2012 Aims:> To develop an understanding of emotionaland social factors behind challengingbehaviour.> To look at practical strategies to respond tochallenging behaviour.
  4. 4. © Matt Grant, 2012 1 – Get a guinea pig!1. Pick a student who’s behaviour you find most challenging – (but give them a different name!)2. List what they do.3. Discuss how they make you feel and what your current responses are.
  5. 5. © Matt Grant, 2012 Common CausesResearchers have identified five emotional/social factors that can lead to challenging behaviour in the classroom: – The need for Attention – The need for Protection – The need for Affiliation – The need for Control – The need for JusticeThese have roots primarily in the home.They can also motivate a studenttowards positive behaviour.
  6. 6. © Matt Grant, 2012 2 – Get unpicking!1. Look at the slides.2. Consider what unmet need might be causing your chosen student’s behaviour.3. Think about how this might change your view of the student.
  7. 7. © Matt Grant, 2012> Shouting out> ‘Acting up’ – play-fighting, silly noises, throwing etc.> Inappropriate comments – often presented as ‘jokes’> Refusing to work> Regularly presenting as tired or upset or angry> Openly breaking trivial rules – such as chewing (or pretending to!), uniform issues etc – usually quick to ‘fall back in line’
  8. 8. © Matt Grant, 2012> Students with absent parents/carers.> Students who have experienced inconsistent attention at home – ‘hot-cold parenting’.> Students experiencing changes in home circumstances – divorce, new baby, parent with new partner.> Students who limited experience in forming positive & meaningful peer friendships.> Students who experience difficulties with learning but do not know how to request support.
  9. 9. © Matt Grant, 2012> ‘Diversion tactics’– acting in a disruptive way that holds up the lesson– initiating a conflict with an adult or peer to distract from the task in hand– behaving in this way often at start of a lesson> ‘Avoidance tactics’- Finding a reason to need to ‘pop out’ – toilet, to pick up lost pen, wash hands, feeling sick etc.- Poor attendance and punctuality- Routinely dismissing tasks / the lesson as ‘boring’ etc.> ‘Clinginess’ to certain staff whilst hostile to others
  10. 10. © Matt Grant, 2012> Students who have experienced regular criticism by parents / family members – sense of failure.> Students who have / are experiencing difficulties in learning and view themselves as unable to complete certain activities.> Students who struggle to trust adults – often due to negative experiences in the past.> Students who have a fear of the ‘unknown’ / struggle to cope with a change in routine.> Students who have been bullied / have experienced conflict with peers.
  11. 11. © Matt Grant, 2012> ‘Running with the gang’ – being drawn to negative peer groups, then being exploited by them.> Copying the challenging behaviour of others in lessons.> Interrupting when there is a dispute between teacher and student – either by defending the student’s case or by trying to undermine through silly comments etc.> Targeting a student and encouraging others to join in – ‘unity through division’
  12. 12. © Matt Grant, 2012> Students with low self-esteem in relation to their physical appearance.> Students with low self-esteem in relation to their own abilities.> Students with low self-esteem in relation to their background / social status.> Students who have experienced some kind of rejection – parents, peers and school.> Students with identity issues – racial, religious, sexual.
  13. 13. © Matt Grant, 2012> Students who openly and constantly ‘test the boundaries’ – chewing, continuously wearing uniform in an inappropriate way, regularly refusing to work etc.> Students who will then incessantly argue over trivial discipline issues.> Students who encourage others to disrupt and challenge staff.> Students who regularly engage in ‘put downs’ of seemingly weaker students.> Students who physically threaten and intimidate others – often those regarded as the ‘cock of the class’ etc.
  14. 14. © Matt Grant, 2012> Students with a chaotic home situation – negative events / changes happening regularly without notice.> Students who dominate their home due to a lack of boundaries.> Students who have had to take on an adult / carer role from an early age.> Students who have had a negative experience of adults as authority figures.
  15. 15. © Matt Grant, 2012> Persistently arguing over staff decisions on the basis of fairness / alleged mistreatment.> Misreading guidance / assertion of authority as an attack – often then misrepresenting to parents.> Refusing to work until a complaint is heard by teacher.> Attacking other students verbally or physically as retaliation / revenge.
  16. 16. © Matt Grant, 2012> Students with families who openly express a cynical view of school.> Students who misread guidance / assertion of authority from adults as an ‘attack’.> Students who have genuinely been subject to unfair treatment at school.> Students who are bullied / find themselves in ongoing conflict with peers.> Students who misread banter as an ‘attack’ – unaware of own ‘red lines’ and those of others.
  17. 17. © Matt Grant, 2012 behind The Chaos?
  18. 18. © Matt Grant, 2012 3 – Get a second opinion!1. Discuss what the identified causes might be with a colleague.2. Consider to what extent their needs are being met through current responses.
  19. 19. © Matt Grant, 2012 Responses> The key to responding to challenging behaviour based on emotional & social factors is to try meeting the need rather than trying to stifle it.> This does not mean excusing or accommodating unacceptable behaviour.> Rather it is about finding smart responses that ‘re-train’ the student to communicate their emotional & social needs more positively.
  20. 20. © Matt Grant, 2012 Responses?Jay: Often shouts out and makes jokes during written work. The teacher has grown sick and tired of it – finds himself ‘shouting down’ the student. This works at the time but the behaviour continues each lesson.Beth: Often arrives late, sometimes tearful. Will take part in name-calling and insists on sitting at a particular seat away from others. Is quietly dismissive with the teacher when challenged. Teacher generally ‘leaves her be’.Marc: Makes inappropriate comments for ‘shock value’, often engages in ‘put downs’ and threats towards less vocal members of the class, throws equipment at other students. Teacher, having grown tired of arguments, constantly issues detentions. Teacher sets dull detention tasks to ‘teach a lesson’.
  21. 21. © Matt Grant, 2012 4 – Get smart!1. Select strategies that you could use to try to address your chosen student’s behaviour issues.2. Discuss and swap ideas with a colleague.
  22. 22. © Matt Grant, 2012 alarm bells ring… Subject Leader Inclusion Panel Year Tutors
  23. 23. © Matt Grant, 2012 “Fight the Good Fight”It’ll be over by Christmas… Or Easter… Or this time next year…
  24. 24. For further resources or to contact the author, please visit: , Matt Grant, 2012All rights reserved. Permission to present this material and distribute freely for non-commercial purposes is granted,provided this copyright notice and those in the slides remain intact and is included in the distribution. If you modify thiswork, please note where you have modified it, as I want neither credit nor responsibility for your work.Modification for the purpose of taking credit for my work or otherwise circumventing the spirit of this license is notallowed, and will be considered a copyright violation.Any suggestions and corrections are appreciated and may be incorporated into future versions of this work, andcredited as appropriate.If you believe I have infringed copyright, please contact me via the above website and I will promptly credit , amend orremove the material in question.