4th November 2011 at 00:00
The problem - I have a loud Year 1 (P1) class that is driving me mad with its "he said, she said" stories. One boy, who has been mothered a lot, has tantrums where he ends up sobbing and upsetting the class. Should I make him sit on a cushion when he behaves like that?

What you said

With the over-mothered child, don't compromise. Whenever the next tantrum comes, have a strategy to deal with it. If at all possible, have an assistant in the class who will take the child away as soon as the gale starts to blow, so he learns that big, dramatic gestures only result in his removal from an audience.


One school I worked in had sticker-time after break and lunch. Children had to nominate someone who had done something good for a sticker. All the attention-seeking children had to think of something good to "tell", which worked.


The expert view

Be clear that tantrums are not going to work in your class. You are not going to play this game. To change the behaviour you need to remove the benefits of negative attention, directly address the tantrums and teach new behaviours that work for the child and the class.

The instantaneous move to a thinking spot with a cushion, chair, mat or carpet gives the attention-seeking child all the physical cues they need to realise that something has gone wrong.

Do not speak to the child about their behaviour while they are crying. Be prepared to repeat the same lines and walk away for a minute or two: "I will come and speak to you when you have stopped crying", "Crying doesn't get you what you want here". Obviously, we are talking about deliberate crying and not crying due to genuine upset.

When the child has stopped crying, confront the behaviour. Run through the same script every time. Sustain your poker face; let the child know what they have done and which rule it contravenes. Practise a routine that is predictable, safe and easily repeatable. Most importantly, make sure he knows the behaviour you are looking for. Simple, consistent, repetitive rituals targeted at specific behaviours will accelerate change.

Paul Dix is managing director of education training consultancy Pivotal Education. Post your questions on:

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