Children, in general, will exhibit some type of minor or major behavior challenge during their childhood. The key is to keep minor behaviors just that… minor. As a teacher, administrator, and parent I have experienced a variety of behavior challenges that can be supported with simple Tier 1 redirection and distraction techniques. I know, hard to believe that my beautiful children could ever be a behavior problem.
When behaviors happen it is important that parents and teachers respond in an appropriate way, that focuses on changing the undesirable behavior, while being in control of our emotions and maintaining a compassionate relationship with our children and/or students. Before implementing behavior strategies it is important to solidify positive relationships. Check out a few of my favorite relationship building techniques below.
- Unexpected Call Over - Call a child over when they least expect it and when they are not displaying any inappropriate behaviors, just to say hello or comment on something positive. Building genuine relationships, built on trust and understanding, will increase the likelihood that your distraction techniques or simple requests will be followed by a misbehaving child. Relationships need more deposits and fewer withdrawals.
- Active Listening - When we are busy it is easy to send students on their way with a quick response, knowing that you would give a better response if you had the time. We do this as parents too, and the result can be unexpected behavior challenges. Next time, try saying this, “Your question/need/etc. is really important to me and you deserve more time than I can give right now. Can you hold on for a few minutes/until lunch/until tomorrow/etc. and I will give you the attention you deserve?” If you say this with empathy, the child will usually feel validated and will (most likely) wait for your attention. Sometimes, it gives them time to problem solve on their own. Obviously, don't use this approach if there is an emergency or safety issues.
- Positive Proximity – Greet your students each morning with a smile and a friendly hello. Seems simple because it is! It is also much better than asking, “Do you have your homework?” Be present during independent work, supporting students and noticing their efforts throughout the day. It is even ok to stop by the cafeteria (gym is where we eat lunch), or even shoot a basket or two during recess. Positive proximity doesn't need to stop in the classroom. The extra 2-3 minutes of positive proximity outside your classroom will enhance the community feeling that you are establishing in your classroom.
- I Noticed Notes - Simply place post-it notes on student’s desk when they least expect it!
- I noticed you finished your project today… nice work with great detail!
- I noticed you are being a good friend to Johnny… you are kind!
- I noticed you helping Sally with her math at lunch… you are a good friend!
- I noticed you put great voice into your writing today… nice focus on our target learning!
- I noticed you being a good listener… you rock!
- I noticed you filling Johnny’s bucket today… you are kind! Side note: Read to your class, Have you filled a bucket today? by Carol McCloud and illustrated by David Messing.
- I noticed you asking for help on your assignment… way to take charge of your learning!
- I noticed you using "active listening" strategies with Sally during turn and talk… keep it up!
You get the idea! I wouldn't walk around the room giving “I noticed” notes all day because it could decrease the value. Use them sparingly, maybe 3-5 per day and keep track, making sure you are noticing everyone over time. I love this strategy because it provides encouragement and accolades to support a positive relationship between you and your students. It will also teach students to self-regulate their behaviors, assuming responsibility for academic and social learning. Students will love it and so will you!
Idea for parents: Place “I noticed” notes in your child’s lunch or backpack. They will love receiving notes, showing how much you care even when you are not around:
- I noticed your effort on reading practice last night… I am proud of you!
- I noticed you being kind to your sister… you are a good big brother!
- I noticed you made your bed before school… you are a great helper!
- I notice each and every day that I am lucky to have you as my son/daughter… I love you!!!!
Show your child how much you care when they least expect it! I have seen parents do this at our school and it is so much fun for the students! They love receiving kind words and it always puts a smile on their face! The best part, you are giving a reason for the compliment which builds self-concept. It also teaches self-regulation, increasing the likelihood that positive behaviors will continue.
Creating an environment focused on positive adult-child relationships will increase the success of distraction techniques and other classroom management or behavior strategies. Now that relationships are established, distractions techniques have a better chance of being successful. Next weeks post will highlight distraction techniques and other strategies to support learning. Remember to subscribe by e-mail to receive new posts as they are published. Thanks for reading!
Have a great week!