What you said
"I'm not sure how you get other people to care about a child who is hurting their own, other than getting this little boy to `behave himself' as fast as you can. The other people you can get on side are children themselves. Then parents might not be so worried?"
"Are you saying that because a child has ADHD they have no comprehension that hitting or swearing is wrong? I teach kids with all the spectrum of `problems'. If they are doing something they like, they are no problem; it's only when they are doing something they don't enjoy that they kick off."
The expert view
First, you have already shown care and good practice in providing support and "scaffolding". By offering a supportive structure, you are enabling and empowering this young person, who has the additional challenge of carrying a lifelong disability with them as they grow and learn.
The problem is to do with the parents beginning to demonise his behaviour. This kind of input usually starts with a small number of parents. Often one person begins the drive and leads. Think of the 9010 rule: 90 per cent of the problems are caused by 10 per cent of the people. So in a class of 30, three parents will be at the centre of the issue. Knowing most of the parents will support how you are managing things can be helpful. Start by reassuring the parents and listening to their concerns. Be careful not to allow the discussion to become a tirade against a child. Tell them you are aware of the difficulties and you are working with the whole class to improve behaviour.
A calm approach is probably the best tool for changing the demonisation of this child. However, you should not put this child at the centre of the changes you make. I suggest you introduce a whole-class behaviour- management approach that will support this child and every other child in the classroom.
We advocate a technique called "1-2-3 Magic", which is effective with ADHD children - and what works well for them can also work well for others. I have seen this approach turn a challenging classroom around in less than a day. It will offer support and guidance for the child and not isolate him as the "naughty boy". The programme, developed by US psychologist Dr Thomas Phelan, can be shared with parents to use at home. It brings positive results and supports parents and will help bring them on side.
- Colin McGee and Holly Evans are advisory teachers for ADHD charity Addiss. For more information, visit www.addiss.co.uk. For more behaviour advice, go to www.tes.co.ukbehaviourforum
- Reassure the parents and listen to their concerns. The ones who have instigated the meeting are in the minority
- Stay calm. Ensure them that you are putting in place whole-class behaviour initiatives
- Single out the child as the only naughty pupil.
- Build your class management around just that pupil.