At Applewood Academy for Progressive Learning, we know that what happens at school and what happens at home are equally important. That’s why we work so closely with the parents of our students – so we’re using the same strategies to manage disruptive behaviours.
Trish Waplak is in charge of planning and program development at Applewood, and offered these suggestions from the classroom to help reduce confrontation.
Be willing to listen
Every moment matters; if you’re doing dishes and a child in your care wants to talk, try to focus on them and hear what they have to say.
Catch kids at being good
Disruptive behaviour is often about getting attention, whether it’s positive or negative. Waplak suggested what she calls “catching them at being good” – an approach experience shows has better and stronger results. This means ignoring negative behaviours (within reason), and being quick to reward the positive. “From an outside point of view, yes – sometimes this approach makes things seem chaotic. But there is a reason behind it and it works,” Waplak explained.
You need to be consistent, but extremely flexible at the same time. That may seem confusing, but it sets up that while certain behaviour isn’t acceptable, honest effort is. “I recently had a student come into my office and swear. When I told him the language wasn’t OK and asked him to leave my office he apologized – which I recognized, but I told him he still had to leave,” Waplak said. “A few minutes later, he came back and asked to come in; I said ‘sure’.”
Acknowledge the little things
Recognize small successes. “A lot of the kids who come to Applewood complain all the time about being at school,” Waplak said. “But they still show up; they make it here every day. With some kids, that’s a primary goal that gives us something to build on.”
Understand what motivates
Maybe it’s a piece of gum; maybe it’s an activity. Consistently rewarding the positive makes disruptive behaviour less appealing but rewards don’t need to be big or even necessarily cost money. Talk to your kids about what has meaning to them and build any rewards around that.
If you need extra support in behaviour management, please contact us – we’re happy to help.