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I'm no expert but I have worked with some very challenging children and one of them sounds just like yours. I would suggest that the strategies appear to not have worked because he is constantly resisting them in order to check whether they are still in place and will work for him. If he has attachment issues then any boundaries need to be secure and constant - if you keep changing/adjusting them he will understandably feel insecure. You need a very clear behaviour policy with specific steps that everyone adheres to and stick with it. If he starts to improve, don't relax the boundaries because then they won't be there for when he needs them and he will realise he can't rely on them. Children with attachment issues struggle with trusting others because they have been let down before. He has to learn to trust you and the strategies and that will take time.
Often children with attachment issues lash out because that's how they feel about themselves. They are in pain and want others to feel their pain. One child I worked with would hit other children as he walked up the corridor if he had just been disciplined. He didn't like seeing other children happy when he felt so lousy so he would punch them so they could feel his pain. Building positive identity, self-worth and self-esteem are areas that you could work on with him during his nurture classes.
The key things that transformed the child I worked with was having a strong team that worked closely together with the parent.Change won't happen over night and you will need a lot of patience and understanding but it will be worth it.
You haven't said whether you have a Positive Handling Plan, I assume you do, but if not you should have one along with restraint training.
Children who exhibit such extreme-spectrum behaviour need the most attention to modify, obviously, and I would absolutely agree with your assessment that he needs rigid, clear boundaries- much more than most children, because he so freely abuses the boundaries and conventions that most children take for granted.
Any strategy based on reason or reasonableness would be fruitless. It's not that he doesn't understand his behaviour, or other people; it''s that he doesn't care about others enough, or their needs. He seems locked in an infantile stage where his needs are paramount and any strategy available to obtain the ends of these needs is fair game. As you say, teachers that give him a hand will experience their arm being chewed off with gusto.
You might be the only person in the world who cares enough about him to try to teach him about boundaries. Can you imagine what he'll be like in a few years, a decade, if he doesn't learn to amend his behaviour, and if someone doesn't teach him that he cannot expect to remain such a person if he intends to join and participate in society? You can very easily imagine a long, tortured path that leads to a variety of awful scenarios and alternate futures. You could be the person who points out the straight path. I would say hold steady, for God's sake hold steady. Keep sanctions stiff and certain, and perhaps step them up; removal to another room to work alone should automatically happen after a period of violence- at the very least. He must learn that using his fists will lock him off from the community. Because it will.
Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him.
Isn't this true of many adults too? And society doesn't know what to do about them, either
Absolutely. And because life isn't perfect, sometimes the best we can hope for is containment,and preventing them from harming others. C'est la vie...
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