Children with Problematic Behaviours

Children with Problematic Behaviours

Children with problematic behaviours are receiving focus over the last few years. These children are causing havoc in our classrooms and playgrounds. But are these children really problematic or just naughty.

A group of teachers recently discussed this matter and all of those present told stories of the times they were either accosted or challenged by children as young as four or five.

Recently, in a classroom a teacher asked a student to move from where he was sitting to the front of the classroom. The child didn’t move so the teacher stopped the lesson and waited. Eventually, the child walked to the place designated.

On arrival he commenced screaming in his loudest voice yelling out that the teacher was a liar, repeating the screaming over and over. Finally, the child was taken away from the room to calm down. He came back to the classroom looking like an angel, very calm and apologetic. Imagine what performances this child acts out at home if this is what he does in public. I agree that this child needs support but in order to receive the right sort of support at school, the school needs parental permission-this permission is often denied.

Out of control girls really look like little angels until they are told NO, reprimanded or asked to follow directions. Then the real person emerges with yelling and screaming, refusal to complete tasks and denial of any wrong doing. The other pupils look on in amazement. These little girls are just out of control. There are no problems that need support, it is behaviour that is unacceptable and needs to be addressed immediately.

Teachers are inundated with these behaviours and more on a daily basis. As a society we need to take responsibility for these inappropriate behaviours that eventually, if not corrected, will lead to more problems in society. These children need boundaries, strong boundaries because they are very strong minded children. Eventually, these children control the household and everyone suffers. The best strategy is to seek help as soon as possible. Consequences for poor behaviour is acceptable but training in changing the behaviours needs to be part of the process.

There are lots of strategies that can be implemented. Initially, the child needs to recognise the behaviour as inappropriate and that it is unacceptable. Parents and teachers then need to support the child in changing the behaviours. The behaviours don’t change instantly but they will change with consistent boundaries and support.

With a packed curriculum and no time to spare in the classroom, teachers find it difficult to spend the time to correct the classroom behaviours. But with in-school support, it is possible. Sometimes, it takes just a little extra attention to achieve the desired change.

A little Year One child whom I was teaching  became a belligerent child when he wouldn’t write neatly. His writing was illegible. Together with the classroom teacher we decided to show the student that with neater writing, he would score 10/10 for his spelling. Once the child was given individual attention and shown exactly what was expected, behaviours immediately changed and no longer was the previous behaviour manifested. This was an easy change but what about the more difficult behaviours.

We must always remember that behaviours are a symptom of something not going well inside the child. For the child who is naughty this statement is rarely true, but it is difficult at times to work out what is behaviour and what is a problem. It is necessary to walk gently until the behaviours are observed and investigated. Anecdotal notes provide a lot of evidence that can be used to develop a recovery plan. Children need to know that they don’t have the experience or the wisdom to decide on a lot of things in life, it is the adult’s right and responsibility to steer the journey and make decisions about choices. Raise the expectations of behaviour and demand compliance.

One little girl who believes that she is in charge disrupts the class by refusing to follow directions, arguing and tantalising other children. This little person has no discipline, she believes that she can do whatever she wants and whenever she wants. The main problem is the lack of compliance, especially with following directions. We decided to check language and hearing problems as well as putting visual boundaries in place before moving to a behavioural specialist.

The most damaging behaviour came from a small tot in Vanuatu during my travelling. I was told to take small gifts each day to give out to the children. Always willing to comply when it comes to children, I brought small items from Australia and some sweets from the local shop.

During the stay we had a night out for a special meal, dancing and of course the country’s favourite drink, cava. On departure I gave sweets to the little girls who had danced and sang. One little girl was more determined than the others and continuously asked for more and more sweets. Eventually, after she had far too many, I said,

“No more.” Without any hesitation at all this child lifted her leg as high as she could and whipped it into my leg with such force that I nearly fell. So, it is not only in Australia that we are witnessing aberrant behaviours!!!

The link below provides tips for changing behaviours. If working alone to change the behaviours doesn’t work, see a professional to support you.

Good parenting skills makes for a happy home.

Please leave your comments in the reply box below. I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts.

I have listed some books that would be useful references. There are also some that can be read to the child.

Ann Foster tutors children who have difficulties in reading, writing and spelling.

Contact Ann on 0414340883 or email


Ann holds the following qualifications:                           

Diploma of Teaching

Bachelor of Educational Studies

Master of Education (Special Needs)

Master of Education (Counselling & Guidance)