Most of the children in my class are loud, but one boy is very quiet and well-behaved and doesn't fit in. His parents say he is becoming disruptive at home and does not want to come to school because he has no friends. What can I do to help him?
What you said
"You could try creating a circle of friends: choose a small number of children as buddies for him and give them the responsibility to support him."
"If there are pupils who are sympathetic, perhaps you could organise seating plans or group activities to accommodate the one into the many. They can't all be exhibitionists."
"You can't make kids be friends with him, but maybe you could set up some activities where he could be companionable to one or two others and start to forge some friendships of his own."
THE EXPERT VIEW
Friends are fundamentally important to a child's development. These interactions help with social skills, self-regulation, problem-solving and emotional growth. If a child is rejected by their peers, this can cause loneliness, low self-esteem, discontentment and a lack of motivation. Without friendships, school can be seen as a very stressful and unappealing place, which could lead to absenteeism or unwanted behaviour.
There are a number of ways you can help this child make friends in school:
- Friendship groups: identify a few children within the class or throughout the school who you feel would appeal to this child during playtime. Lasting friendships can be formed when children are interested in the same activities.
- Seating arrangements: sit the child next to someone who has a similar personality and who shares a similar interest. It may also help if they are seated close to you or a teaching assistant so that the situation can be monitored and reassurance given.
- Shared responsibility: pair the child with another to share a job - for example, looking after the class hamster. Encourage the children to work together and reinforce positive behaviour.
- After-school clubs: these structured activities are an effective way to connect the child with his peers. Inform the child of activities taking place after school and buddy him up with another child who is already taking part.
- "Play dates": to strengthen new friendships, suggest play dates to his parents where he can invite friends home to take part in common interests; for example, playing on his PlayStation.
Nicola S Morgan is a behaviour management consultant and author. For more information, visit www.behaviourstop.co.uk. For more behaviour advice, visit www.tes.co.ukbehaviourforum
- Sit him next to somebody who has similar interests.
- Pair him up with another child to share responsibility for class jobs, such as handing out books.
- Positively reinforce friendly behaviour shown towards the boy, such as co-operation or inclusion in activities.
- Focus on his disruptive behaviour in class, but concentrate instead on helping him to make friends.