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Behaviour and challenges in the 21st century

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June 6, 2018

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Behaviour and challenges in the 21st century

The term ‘challenging behaviour’ has been used to refer to the ‘difficult’ or ‘problem’ behaviour which may be shown by children or adults with a learning disability. Such behaviour includes aggression (e.g., hitting, kicking, biting), destruction (e.g., ripping clothes, breaking windows, throwing objects), self-injury (e.g. head banging, self-biting, skin picking), tantrums and many other behaviours (e.g. running away, eating inedible objects, rocking or other stereotyped movements). Characteristically, challenging behaviour puts the safety of the person or others at risk or has a significant impact on the person’s or other people’s quality of life.


Childrens’ behaviour often poses challenges to teachers at school and for parents at home. Sometimes such behaviour causes irritation to the teacher teaching a large class with varying abilities. At other times the behaviour of certain children disrupts the normal operation of the classroom or school for a time. However, teachers may also have to deal with behaviour which challenges their ability to provide education to a child. In addition to this, teachers increasingly find themselves challenged by behaviour associated with a disability, or where the children’s social norms are different to that of the teacher.

Adolescence is a time of rapid change for teens both physically and cognitively.

Teen Behaviour

Problem 1: Your Teen seems to hate you

Problem 2: Increased use of communication devices and social media

Problem 3: Staying out for party or with friends late in the evening

Problem 4: Hanging out with friends you don’t like

Problem 5: Drastic changes in appearance

Problem 6: Impatience

Problem 7: Egoistic, restless and hyperactive

Problem 8: Arrogance and anger

Problem 9: Defying rules and arguing

Challenging behaviour, of course, is not limited to people with learning disabilities but has been termed particularly in this context. The sternness of challenging behaviour can vary greatly and, in some cases, urgent action is required to limit or reverse the effects. In many cases, however, the term is used to refer to behaviour which does not have immediate serious consequences but is, nonetheless, very distressing, disrupting or traumatic.

Different types of challenging behaviour which are displayed by children include:

  • Aggressive behaviour, which can include pushing, punching, kicking, biting, scratching and threatening behaviour;
  • Disruptive behaviour, which can include screaming, tantrums, verbal abuse, non co-operation, running away;
  • Destructive behaviour, which can include destruction of property and the environment;
  • Stereotypical behaviour, particularly in children with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders;
  • Self-injurious behaviour, including head banging, scratching and poking.

The management of challenging behaviour that is the starting point must be the promotion of positive behaviour. Traditionally, principles of behaviour in school were often defined by what was not acceptable, and disciplinary strategies focused on the sanctions available to enforce rules and punish unacceptable behaviour. In many primary schools this approach has now been complemented with an active promotion of positive behaviour, which teaches children clearly the behaviour which is acceptable in the school context and reinforces positive behaviour when it occurs.

However, there will always be a number of children at home or at any school who challenge their parents and teachers by behaving in a way which does not fall within the norms expected for their age or level of development. These attempts might prove to give the two some guidance as to how to implement effective systems of promoting positive behaviour, but also how to deal with behaviour which seriously impairs some children’s ability to benefit from education. It may be particularly helpful to newly qualified teachers or the parents of the very young teenagers, who often find the management of behaviour to be the most challenging aspect of their jobs.

There are reasons why children are behaving in a challenging manner. Therefore, identifying why they do can be the key to finding a solution to the problems caused by the behaviour. This analysis must include a consideration of the behaviour and the context in which it occurs: –

  • Children with communication difficulties may engage in challenging behaviour.
  • Environmental factors may contribute to the problem.
  • Attention-seeking is often identified as a cause of challenging behaviour.
  • Poor social skills and language development, associated with poor parenting skills may lead to a child exhibiting challenging behaviour.
  • Challenging behaviour may have an underlying medical cause or reason, such as pain, illness or sensory difficulties. Some forms of challenging behaviour are particularly associated with certain conditions and disabilities.

Aggressive and violent mis-behaviour is not a regular occurrence in most schools. However, when such an incident does occur, it is serious and bound to cause a great deal of stress for those involved. It must be emphasized that the vast majority of student mis-behaviour can be managed without any use of containment/restraint.

Good parenting practices can help the child and benefit the family as a whole. Treatment that focuses on new ways of parenting, or that involves family, school and community, can be effective.

Challenging behaviour is common in teenagers whether you have a teenage boy or girl. Unfortunately, challenging behaviour is not like an infection which can be treated by a short-term course of antibiotics. In many cases there will be no ‘magic bullets’; change may take some time (especially where the behaviour is strong), will almost certainly require changes in the way other people behave and may relapse. Knowing what is normal and what is not can help you deal and interact with them appropriately and build a cooperative relationship that benefits both the teacher and the child.

Amit Sehgal, is a Post Graduate in Mathematics with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Kurukshetra University. He has a Master’s degree in Computer Science with Two Year Diploma in Personality Development from NIIT, Dehradun and Delhi. He is the recipient of BEST PRINCIPAL AWARD; he has also worked as a MENTOR in the Scholars for Change Campaign organised by IIM, Ahmedabad and his main concentration is on Pre-Primary to Senior School Education K – 12.

He is also the author of a General Knowledge Series Books for 1st to 8th Class. He is committed to launching Computer Book Series for 1st to 10th and Mental Math Book Series for 1st to 8th in 2018.
Professionally he has devoted two decades to education and carries a vast experience of 12 years as a Principal.

He is a widely travelled person and has worked in many top schools and institutions of the country. He is currently heading THE SCHOLARS VALLEY, DHAMPUR as the Principal.

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