What the Disruptive Child or Student Needs The Most

There is a child somewhere right now turning the whole place out. And not in a fun way. They are irritable, yelling, fussing, shaking everything, pushing things away, snatching things. Maybe you weren’t the parent but instead the person who came to your place of worship or medical care without any desire to have your peace disturbed by this child. Either filter you are observing this – it is disruptive. Disturbances at Church. School. Doctor’s Office. Grocery store. Just about anywhere people are normally structured and or subdued.

This type of disruptive behavior drives 51% of 1-5 year teachers out of the profession every year. New teachers are not interested in spending hours planning lessons for behaviorally challenged students to disrupt and cause every one of them to fail. These teachers are also not delighted that they will need to describe this at conferences 2 times a year for each family. But what else can be done?

Telling him how disruptive he was one thousand times won’t help.

Either way we all have wondered what in the world does this child need! Parents may have tried bringing along favorite blankets, toys, video games to the appointment. In the classroom, teachers made some subtle moves like seat changes and student teacher conferences. The majority of what needs to change is not with the child or student but instead with the adults.

You see, by giving the toys, video games, seat changes and whatever else we have tried we did still provide the child with nothing more than distractors that may or may not suffice. And what happened any time he decided that the blanket was not a big enough distraction to deter him from reigning holy terror on the place and all the witnesses? Yep, you got it – he did just that! So the real solution is:

A “structured” environment can be defined as one that is “organized and predictable,” so when there exists day-to-day routines and a daily schedule in place for children to follow, therein lies structure. Likewise, when house rules, expectations and consequences are consistently implemented and clearly understood by the child – and positively reinforced by the parent(s) – an environment that is “predictable” is created.

In a “structured environment,” a child knows what to expect, and a great sense of security comes from this

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Similar to the way we schedule our daily lives – children also require structured lives

Parents, Teachers, Caregivers have a responsibility to provide the ultimate structured environment. Ultimate because it is focused on all the child needs each day to “spin her wheels” in positive and productive ways.

1. Be Deliberate. Plan a schedule that not only includes home and classroom activities – but also activities (i.e. speaking and listening interactions with the adults and peers) that may occur in other environments.

2. Be Proactive. Block time to model and practice the schedule. Explain expectations and tie in rewards. Include activities that are frequent in different environments (i.e, sharing computer time with a sibling could resemble what will happen in school with classmates).

3. Be Consistent. The child may resist the detailed organization of her life initially but in my 20+ years of experience, students and children with the most significant behavioral challenges fall into the structure easily for many cognitive reasons (the specifics would require a separate article ✍🏾). The most significant one I have realized is they feel safe – the foundation will not fall out – things won’t keep changing without considering them.

The most disruptive child or students needs a structured and safe environment to just BE.

Published by Education Matters

The best life assignment yet is 4x Mommy 💛 Professional Educator ~ Studied Elementary Education at Nova Southeastern University and Educational Leadership at Lynn University💛 Enjoying the freedom of my favorite pasttimes ~ Reading & Writing.

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Morag Noffke

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