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It's the Little Things

​It's the Little Things

Strategies for managing challenging behaviour in the learning environment



It’s the Little Things can be used alongside ongoing work on relationship building to form part of a positive, safe and inclusive classroom ethos. In such an environment children will learn to respect and value themselves and others. Help the children in the class respect and understand each other’s differences and learn appropriate ways of responding to unusual or unfamiliar behaviours.

The strategies in this resource are intended for use in addition to or to support the existing class behaviour codes, positive behaviour support policies and individual behaviour support plans. A child with complex behavioural or learning needs would normally have a plan in place to address their specific needs e.g. an Individualised Education Plan (IEP), Coordinated Support Plan (CSP) and/or a Positive Behaviour Support Plan (PBSP). These are likely to be incorporated in a single Child’s Plan, particularly where the child has wider support needs than those related to education. Make sure that you are familiar with the content of any plans that might be in place for children in your class.

It can be helpful to negotiate a calming technique with every child. They might all have a different way to calm down (counting/deep breathing/going to safe space/thinking happy thoughts etc.) but if teachers know every child has such a technique, they can remind the child to use it if they are becoming stressed or anxious. This can work particularly well with older children.

Don’t panic when you’re confronted with a situation you’re not sure how to handle. Don’t react immediately - remain calm and take time to think about the child and what will work best for them. Getting to know each child as an individual will make this easier to do. Try to relax and enjoy building positive relationships with the children you work with.

You may have to do a lot of work on individual needs, differences and expectations. Children are likely to complain if they feel that they are being treated more harshly than a classmate. For example if they get a strong reprimand for saying a rude word whereas a classmate who mutters swearwords all the time is only shown a red card, you will need to help them to understand why they are being treated differently. This could mean explaining that the classmate is being helped to stick to the classroom rules in a different way that works for them.

Of course, you will no doubt face challenges – large class sizes, time constraints, workload, reductions in staff numbers etc. But never forget that “it’s the little things” that often make the most difference. These little things do not cost lots of money or take lots of time but will help you to create a warm, inclusive, calm learning environment that will have positive outcomes for all the children you work with.​

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