I've had recurring problems with a destructive and angry nine-year- old child in my class. Her home life is secure, although I gather from meeting her mother to discuss her behaviour that it is very much a case of "my daughter can do no wrong". The child has a very short fuse and will lash out verbally at those who upset her, especially her friendship group. The triggers are generally things most children would brush off or ignore. She also refuses to work in groups with children who are not friends and will try to disrupt activities, including ripping up her work and that of others if they annoy her. She is in some ways very mature for her age and is aware that there are issues with the way she deals with her anger. I would consider a reward system but I know she is not the kind of child to be interested or motivated by something as obvious as this. She has also seen a mentor once a week with little impact. I am at my wits' end, as her behaviour disrupts the whole class.
What you said
You say a reward system would not work but be creative: you need something to motivate her - what does she really love and talk about and look forward to? It is time-consuming to discover these things but they will help.
Have you tried setting up a behaviour contract?
The expert view
She needs to see that her behaviour will lead to consequences, and consistently. If she has no boundaries at home then small wonder she explodes when faced with your fences. But fences she needs. Have a plan. The next time she melts down, she gets removed to a safe space where she can learn away from her peers. Return to the class is conditional on her behaviour improving. The next time, repeat . and repeat and repeat, until she learns what happens when she acts appallingly. This is for her good and the good of the class. If she doesn't learn self-restraint, then she'll struggle as an adult. She needs to stop this now and I'm afraid you have your work cut out.
Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher. Read more from Tom on his TES Connect blog (bit.lytombennett) or follow him on Twitter at @tesBehaviour. His latest book, Teacher Proof, is out now, published by Routledge
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