What affects child behaviour in the classroom?

Child Behaviour In Classroom

As a child behaviourist, one of my favourite roles is teaching. Luckily the opportunity to visit various schools and teach in a classroom or a hall full of children has given me so many insights into a child’s world. I would like to share what I’ve seen and learnt from the children themselves in regards to their behaviour in the classroom:

In my classroom I have thirty-one children. I teach my class as a whole but treat every child as an individual, with different abilities, likes and dislikes and a bigger picture that makes them who they are. The bigger picture can change from day to day and I am continuously mindful of how that impacts on a child’s day, their mood, their feelings and their behaviour.

I’m required to teach multiple subjects: reading, writing, maths, history etc… yet my priorities are kindness, acceptance, compassion and empathy. I help children comprehend that all their classmates have a story, a bigger picture that is not always visible and not always open to discussion, a story that lives inside their head and heart.

Children have an ability to talk a lot yet they may not have the emotional intelligence and words to describe the huge emotions they are carrying, or they feel embarrassed or misunderstood and it spills out in their behaviour.

In my classroom, I need the children to feel safe, secure and accepted for who they are. I keep in mind a never-ending list of what may be affecting their individual behaviour on any given day. Things like these:

  • Johnny’s mother is fighting breast cancer and that affects his behaviour.
  • Mary’s grandmother is in palliative care and that affects her behaviour.
  • Lucy never has any lunch to eat and that affects her behaviour.
  • Joseph’s father is in a detention centre and that affects his behaviour.
  • Tom doesn’t sleep well due to terrible night terrors and that affects his behaviour.
  • Rebecca has a new baby sister and that affects her behaviour.
  • Leo lives with his aunty and grandparents and that affects his behaviour.
  • Tina has sensory processing issues and that affects her behaviour.
  • Francisco has only just moved to Australia and that affects his behaviour.
  • Geraldine’s father has MS and that affects her behaviour.
  • Harry is on new medication for epilepsy and that affects his behaviour.
  • Nathaniel was late and had to rush this morning and that affects his behaviour.
  • Jessica and Susan had a small disagreement at recess and that affects both their behaviours.
  • Paul has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia and that affects his behaviour.
  • Hannah attended her uncle’s funeral last week and that affects her behaviour.
  • Michael has a runny nose and is coughing all over the place and that affects his behaviour.
  • Natasha had a toilet mishap at recess and that affects her behaviour.
  • Kelly is fully booked every afternoon with after school activities and that affects her behaviour.
  • Cody’s big brother passed away suddenly last year and that affects his behaviour.
  • Ray finds it challenging to make friends and that affects his behaviour.
  • Polly is now in a separate class from her twin sister and that affects her behaviour.
  • Alan has low self-esteem and that affects his behaviour.
  • Marcus lost his tooth at recess and accidentally swallowed it. He’s worried the tooth fairy won’t come and that affects his behaviour.
  • Barbara’s best friend was Holly. Barbara’s mum is no longer speaking to Holly’s mum. Both girls have been told by their respective mums not to speak or play with each other. That affects both their behaviours.
  • James doesn’t like after school care, but he’s booked in tonight and he’s been fretting all day about it and that affects his behaviour.
  • Mary-Anne loves this classroom and the routine. She dislikes all the specialist subjects like art and Italian and having to leave the classroom. Today is specialist day and that affects her behaviour.
  • Marcus lost his hat last week, so his mum bought him a new one. He lost that at recess today, so mum will be cross at pick-up time and that affects his behaviour.
  • Julie is upset that with Holly and Barbara no longer being friends, their circle of friendship is broken, and that affects her behaviour.
  • Ben is sad that his best friend, Robert, is moving to a different school and that affects his behaviour.

It is important to remember that children, like adults, have good days and bad days. Many carry their story on the inside, and sometimes their safe place is the classroom; for the routine, their friendships and their curiosity to learn. When I teach, I ask each child how they are feeling today, and many feel better after I’ve listened. I have reassured them, connected with them and validated their feelings, and doing so helps amazingly with their behaviour. We all want to connect and it is imperative the children get that connection too.

As parents we tend to forget that a teacher has a lot more going on in their class than just teaching. We may not know the bigger picture of every child in class but the teacher who cares does.

Is there a teacher that made a positive difference in your life?

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Nathalie Brown

Child Behaviour Consultant at Easy Peasy Kids
Child Behaviourist and researcher. Creator of "Less tantrums. More smiles". I look at the bigger picture and think outside the box when working with children and their behaviour. Their world is different. As adults we sometimes forget this. Happiness Creator in my spare time. Eater of chocolate and cake.

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  1. Absolutely spot on. As a secondary teacher this is still true and worth remembering. I wish government ministers could be made to remember this too….

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