Behaviour Management

Underpinning principles:

  • All behaviour is communication-how you or children behave in a given situation, response to the situation, what is the child communicating;
  • Everyone has an internal working model-how are people going to treat me?
  • The brain and body are inextricably linked- nobody can help having emotions and feelings, trigger physical responses, you can choose how you act but not how you feel, children haven’t always developed to think how to react so they just react emotionally;
  • Children arrive in school with a range of experiences-all children arrive in school with different experiences, don’t stereotype families/children just because of their backgrounds, all families are different;
  • In parenting ‘good enough’ is good enough;
  • This is not about blame- do not blame the parents about the child’s behaviour;
  • We are NOT therapists- we are there to support children.


Different types of behaviours:

  • Attention seeking;
  • Controlling;
  • Bossy;
  • Poor resilience;
  • Tantrums.


Some ways to manage these behaviours:

  • make sure you know your children,
  • if you know a child needs attention then you will have to set something up through the day so they feel as though they are getting attention-prevents attention seeking from happening more frequently.


Key Terms:

Attachment- attachment theory concerns the process by which human beings bond with their first caregiver, usually the mother, laying the foundations for the formation of self-image, the building of relationships and self-regulation.

Internal working model- this internal working model is a cognitive framework.



John Bowlby- developed attachment theory with a primary caregiver and notion of an internal working model.

Mary Ainsworth- developed the theory to include different styles of attachment which in turn were evident in different types of behaviour.

More recently- more recently in the terms of Disinhibited Social Engagement and Inhibited Social Engagement have been used to describe these patterns of behaviour.


The Attachment Cycle:

Need: Child feels helpless/not able to meet own need;

Distress: Parent responds adequately: eye contact, touch, smiles, food;

Relief:  Child’s needs are met, child calms and relaxes;

Trust: Child does not trust that needs will be met.


If you’ve got a parent who sometimes responds and sometimes doesn’t, this can be problematic, as well as if a parent doesn’t respond at all. A child’s needs will not be met constantly so their needs will remain high, along with their stress hormones which can become toxic level which can impair all kinds of things.




Why self-calming matters:

  • Self-calming is learned from caregivers in response to a need;
  • Calming the body, calms the mind;
  • Walk-this calms the mind.


What can cause difficulties with attachment?

  • Pre-birth stress- self-harm, domestic violence;
  • Alcohol or drug use during pregnancy;
  • Parental illness pre or post birth;
  • Ante or post natal depression;
  • Prematurity;
  • Medical complication;
  • Illness or bereavement;
  • Neglect/abandonment;
  • Poverty;
  • Instability;
  • Multiple home or school placements.


Types of attachment and what they look like:

  • Avoidant-seek to meet own needs, self-sufficient, emotionally distant, shut-down, dissociated, difficult to connect with, isolated, values achievements more than intimacy, task orientated, over compliant, anxious to keep others happy, avoids confrontations, feels safe when in control, prickly or socially uncomfortable about the proximity of others, occasional flashes of aggression when over anxious.


  • Ambivalent- aims to have needs met by means available, clingy, manipulative, attention seeking, ‘in your face’, fears not being ‘held in mind’, unable to trust adults to identify needs accurately, constantly on edge, high level of anxiety, hostile, resentful or rejecting of others when frustrated, unable to focus on tasks unless supported, feels vulnerable if others’ needs take precedence, leaves adults feeling exhausted or drained.


  • Disorganises- erratic responses, bizarre or extreme behaviours, desire to shock, take risks, control, conflicting behaviours-craving one minute and rejecting the next, fears being or appearing vulnerable or dependent, poor self-awareness and empathy, perceives self as unworthy of care, help, love, highly anxious, over- or hyper-vigilant, reacts to unseen triggers.



What do children need from adults?

  • A safe base-secure attachment figure(s);
  • Emotional containment- receiving and understanding emotional communication without being overwhelmed;
  • Shame recovery- avoiding a shame based identity;
  • Attunement- insight or being ‘held in mind’;
  • Reciprocity- both involved in initiating, regulating and terminating interactions, learning that relationships can be repaired and negativity recovered them.



Behaviour management – changing actions in a context – usually done to alter negative behaviour

Hotspots for behaviour means the times it management may need to occur – routines changing, transition in environment, low level disturbance (noise shouting out) keeping/gaging attention

Key principles

  • All behaviour reflects underlying needs and has a purpose
  • Behaviour is inextricably linked to emotions and perceptions
  • Behaviour is learned
  • Behaviour can change

The issues with behaviour is the problem not the child!

Different approaches for behaviour – rules rewards consequences (class or whole school choice)


The children you are working with:

  • Have a variety of backgrounds and experiences
  • Have different levels of social and emotional development
  • May feel anxious about their ability
  • May struggle with self -esteem
  • May experience high levels of stress
  • May experience significant barriers to learning
  • May have difficulty understanding unwritten rules or lots of verbal instructions
  • Will make mistakes and lack judgement




A model for thinking about behaviour (Ellis and Todd, 2013)





Rewards and Consequence as a strategy needs to e used sensitively

Rewards need to be explain to support the long-term effectiveness

Consequences need to be used softly so shame isn’t caused

  • Good to demonstrate respect to support behaviour
  • Your actions with children and staff
  • Listening
  • Planning good lessons and being prepared
  • Good role model
  • Poor lessons = poor behaviour
  • Ask the children how they think teacher should behaviour

Demonstrating Respect – Valuing Individuals

  • Some children have a history of failure – these children may engage in diversionary tactics to mask their anxiety
  • Some children have learned that the adults in their lives are not to be trusted – these children may push you to test your limits
  • Some children do not like or not interested in what you are trying to teach, they may fear exposure – be aware and recognise this is a valid point of view


Setting expectations before behaviour occurs is essential so children know how to behave

Clear signals for gaining children attention at all times

When managing noise, levels may be beneficial to let children practice their types of voices – spy, whisper, partner, group and outdoors.


Rules – should be few in number, describe the wanted behaviour long term support children in developing, define the ethos of the school, children support in making them at start of year

Routines are the tasks that need to be done to ensure a safe purposeful environment


Intrinsic and external motivation – important in rule keeping

People (Reiss 2013) believe all motivation is intrinsic

5 - 2.PNG


Teaching rules and regulations allows teacher to set expectations, models routine, structure throughout, allows practice.



4 steps to reducing unwanted behaviour

  • Clear directions
  • Acknowledge children who follow the instructions
  • Circulation around the class acknowledging the appropriate behaviour
  • Have a plan for following up

If the behaviour you want is not going to plan offer children choices and offer opportunities to reform relationships, offer reminders to children.

When Challenging Unwanted Behaviour

  • Remain very calm
  • Make eye contact
  • Voice low
  • Body relaxed
  • Separate the behaviour from the child
  • Remind the child of previous positive behaviour
  • State what you would like the child to do positively
  • Allow the child some take up time to process and act
  • Repeat as necessary and praise



In relation to behaviour management through engaging with this seminar and lecture I have developed knowledge of the underlying reasons for behaviour management and some reasons children behave in the way they do. In previous practice I experienced using rewards to manage children’s behaviour. This experience developed my skills in behaviour management however I want more opportunities within this area as on the previous placement myself and the other trainees worked together to manage the behaviour of the class and I would like experience in doing this myself.



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