I’m excitedly working on a new project aimed at helping teachers and parents positively and effectively address difficult child behaviors and build social skills for the long haul. I really want to get your perspective on the topic so that I can be sure that what I write is pertinent to you! Please take just a moment to answer the questions below and/or comment at the end. Thanks so much for contributing to a project that has really meant a lot to me! I hope to have this project completed and ready to share with you within the next two months!
What child behaviors to you find most challenging? Please answer in the comment section so that you can be specific to your experience!
Thanks so much for your input!
Top photo by Malik Bahai.
I find non sharing and fighting over toys to be what I am currently struggling with with my children. I love your blog and thanks for all you share!
I, too, thank you so very much for your time, research, and expertise! You are approachable, generous & beyond informative — Thank You!
Melissa B. says
I find behaviour that seems intentionally hurtful really hard to deal with (children being exclusionary; seemingly purposefully taking a specific child’s toy, etc)
I am preschool teacher here in Florida, and the most challenging behavior I got so far is a child who do not want to listen to anything you say doesn’t matter how many times or how nice you say it, he will just stay there like a stack and smiling
A bad attitude is my most challenging. I know deep down that the best way to deal with it is to respond lovingly and not react in kind, but it really ticks me off! It’s hard not to make punishments worse than the crime when I see a bad attitude (like ingratitude, folding arms and stomping when asked to do something, etc).
I find your research really exiting and I´m eager to read the results! For me difficult behaviour is a pattern that shows me a hidden message, something that a child is trying to convey and cannot find the way to say it in words. That´s why I´ve noticed dialogue is important but not enough, because difficult behaviour arises “before” thoughts/words are available for a person to express his needs. My best results have been when I was able to help that “difficult” (suffering?) child to know him or herself better and how his emotions work. I remember a very aggressive child at school who was able to learn the “body sympthoms” that announced him a rage of anger and was able to say “I´m getting angry, I need your help”.This was a great relief for all of us (he didn´t hit/bite/insult) but specially for him… When talking about difficult behaviour I think the big question is “difficult” for whom?
“Difficult for whom?” I love that. It’s true that we often look at behaviors in terms of how much of a challenge they pose for us, when the more important challenge is often the one posed to the child. Thanks for getting me thinking
back talking!!! (or whining or rude talk…)
Behaviors that frustrating to me in my classroom of 4 & 5 years. Today is a great example, hey boys I know you are having a blast in the block center but you may not through cars. How about we build a ramp and we build the ramp and I move to another center and they beginning through cars from the ramp. I ask them stop, they listen to me for about 2 minutes and then they keeping doing and are laughing while I am asking them to stop. I have the clean up and move them to different centers but then I feel bad because they are really good friends and I feel like the bad guy. Breathe…. Screaming/Yelling in my face
exclusionary play – even though I have a rule about it and move children who are excluding to do an activity by themselves
My girls can be really hurtful in their words to each other
Spiting water on a friend
That’s about it for now
I have a 3 yr. old student who is biting. My daughters (8 yr. old twins) are not listening to me, but I have been using your suggestions from a recent post and I am hoping it will help!
I find the most difficult behavior is children who have developed negative behaviors to gain attention. It can be remedied but does take time. It is not a quick fix. It takes many positive affirmations and ignoring the negative but it can be difficult in a classroom setting when your attention must be shared by all the children.
as a teacher its incredibly challenging for me and other teachers I know when you have several difficult children in the same classroom, such as attention deficit children, emotionally distressed children, and a mixture of clashing personalities. they sometimes compete for peer and teacher attention and can be hard to deal with.
Defiance and whining is so annoying. We also have a child who refuses to talk at school and won’t even shake his head. He also refuses to use the bathroom although he is fully trained at home and talks like crazy at home. We are working with a psychologist and it is a control thing. It is very hard to know how to help him!
My almost 3-year-old drives me mad by refusing to wash his hands. It is such a tiny issue but it drives me wild. I can’t negotiate on it because he does need to wash his hands after going to the toilet and before eating but sometimes I just don’t find the right way to get through to him. How about this for a worst-case scenario in our family? (Thanks to you, too, because your articles have helped me though many potential issues!)
I find the not listening and disrupting the class during the learning time the worst behavior problem.
At home the most challenging behavior comes from my 12 yr old daughter — whining and helplessness. I know it’s a parent/child thing because it doesn’t happen at school. We just haven’t been able to get ourselves out of this dance.
At school my most challenging behaviors come from a child with very limited parental controls. Her energy is BIG, she hugs too hard, she plays too loud, she has to be the one to tell the story that gives shape to the pretend play. The other kids are being put off by all this, but she just doesn’t see that. I’m not sure how to help her chill out and gain some control.
Power struggles. I work with 3-5 year olds for my storytime in the library, not many problems there. I have 3 children at home and my 9 year old is a strong willed child. He is so stubborn and the problem is, I am too. Power struggles are a constant at our home. I want him to understand that he needs to follow rules. As an adult I have rules I need to follow as well! He is a dream student at school, he just battles with his parents. I’m thankful he doesn’t argue with others, but why does he argue about everthing with us?
Also loved the “difficult for whom?” Hmmm…. makes me think.
LOVE, love, love your blog. Thanks for all the articles and advice. I’m a big fan!
The most difficult behavior that I deal with is what, in an adult, I would call passive aggressive. “Okay Mommy, I will do what you ask, but I will do it at negative the speed of light, stopping several times to scratch an imaginary itch on my ankle.” I feel like it is unreasonable for me to be frustrated. My daughter is, after all, doing exactly what I asked. It just takes thirty times longer than it should. Yikes.
Thanks for all the comments! You’re really getting my thoughts going! It helps me to zero in on what you’re actually facing. Keep it coming!
Gena Monda says
I have been dealing with a child that’s not listening. When I blow the whistle to come inside from recess, he runs off. In circle time, he acts silly. And, whatever is asked of him, he won’t participate. When he does, he’s silly. Any suggestions would be SO helpful. I’ve been, amazingly, patient so far. 🙂
Deborah J. Stewart says
These are some terrific answers and gives lots of insight to consider. Discipline is such a challenging aspect of my job as an administrator. How to help teachers successfully manage very difficult situations in an appropriate manner. Talk about tough!!
Before I can help, I have to first observe to see what all the issues are in that classroom. Are there enough supplies and resources? Are there things to do that are age appropriate, challenging, engaging, and so on? Are the teachers experienced and mature in their knowledge of how to keep a group of children moving along together in a positive direction? Are the parents supportive? Is there any consistency between home and school in setting expectations and establishing boundaries? Do the children understand the expectations and are teachers consistent in schedule, routines, expectations, and so forth? If all of these are in check and the problem seems to come down to being focused totally on a the needs of a specific child – then we begin to look at what is happening at home, at school, developmentally, and what the triggers may be. A whole new set of questions are then asked.
I have seen so many contributors to behavior issues in childcare programs from staff turnover which results in a lack of bonding with students to inexperience and lack of teaching skills to misplaced expectations. Then I have also seen some children who truly do not seem to care – it seems as if somewhere along they line they missed developing a sense of empathy and concern for others.
I believe the development of empathy and a concern for the needs of others must start very early and not helping children redirect their concern about self to a concern about others is not doing anyone, especially the child, any favors.
I also believe that more time should be directed towards helping children develop the internal motivation for wanting to be good rather than external motivators such as stickers. The internal is longer lasting and gives foundation to build on. The external may be helpful too and there are times when this is all one can do for the moment – but along with any external needs to be an investment in the internal:)
I wish you the best with your project and look forward to reading your finished work!
Great insights, Deborah. There are so many things to consider with challenging behaviors! So many sources – both internally and externally – and so many different aspects of social competency to consider. Thanks for adding your perspective and expertise!
Not listening and testing limits. Particularly related to 4.5 y.o hitting or scratching younger brother. I tell him he may not hurt his brother and he walks over and does it again. I try not to give him the reaction I think he is looking for but sometimes I overreact. We’ve tried lots of different approaches but nothing seems to work.
Stubbornness. I’ll give choices and the answer is always, “No.” Refusing to comply.
Shrill Screaming when something doesn’t go exactly as they want
Barbara Murphy says
Aggrission to the point of hurting another person is the behavior I find most difficult to deal with. My current challenge is from a power seeking stage I think. The hard part is talking to the parents of both children. Helping the child feel more powerful in a postive way is a great idea and I plan to use that TOMORROW.