Behaviour Management Strategies – what works?

When it comes to behaviour, there is no one-size-fits-all. Things that work one day may not work the next and what works for one may not work for all. When it comes to behaviour (as previously discussed) there are the behaviour management strategies we use to manage a room of children and also the specific strategies we put into place to support individuals (if you are looking to explore an individuals potential needs, check out this tool here).

Despite the need to consider behaviour on an individual basis, there are still some overall behaviour management strategies that can help to set the tone for how your classroom will work.

  1. Routines – teach the “ways of being” within your room – what do they do when they first come in? How do you communicate you want quiet? What level of noise is acceptable during classwork? When do we need to be silent? How will they enter the room?
  2. Boundaries – the fewer and more simple the rules the better. Children will get it wrong – its inevitable. For most a gentle reminder is enough. For those that continue to push up against the boundaries we put into place we may need to look a little deeper.
  3. Natural consequences – actions have consequences but they don’t have to designed to be pointless. Take back time if you need to, but put it to good use. Build relationships, explore adjustments, give responsibilities to perform during this time. Make it worthwhile and both parties will come out of the situation better for it.
  4. Some children need breaks – consider how you structure your lessons to allow for natural breaks in teaching. Some children may need for than this – this may mean the need to move. Get them to “check for messages” with a pre-agreed staff member to help them cool off / take a break if needed.
  5. Try to assume the best – when a child is getting it wrong, try start inquiries by looking for good intentions. When it becomes clear you are proven wrong, it will have shown faith in the child not an assumption of wrongdoing from the outset.
  6. Avoid the use of shaming behaviour management strategies. These might be “name on the board” or similar. This black/white framing of one’s actions can often escalate behavioural concerns later on as the child is reminded of a previous issue and feels powerless to do anything about it. Reminders, prompts, praise when doing the right thing – these are much less likely to escalate concerns.
  7. Give the child clear choices about their actions, emphasising the benefits of making a preferred choice. Once the choice is presented, give the child time to comply.
  8. Consider seating plans carefully. Some children need to be close to the teacher, others may want to sit behind others. Some may wish to sit away from others. Sometimes what might be considered disruptive behaviour in the classroom can be linked to a need for attention and where you seat a child can impact upon this.
  9. Try to remind students of their past successes to instil confidence in the current activity. Similarly model mistakes in the classroom to show this is a normal part of learning.
  10. Where possible try to keep interaction styles simple, consistent and predictable. Short instructions, focusing on the outcome desired will help to de-escalate. For example – consider what you want to achieve? How can we work with the child to achieve that objective whilst ignoring the secondary behaviours that get them there. E.g not in lesson but walking slowly in the direction of the classroom? Praise compliance towards the objective, ignoring any attempt at argument.

There are many different strategies for behaviour we can make use of within the classroom but boundaries skilfully and empathetically enforced with natural consequences and strong, knowledge rich relationships are the way to ensure lasting behaviour change. And when general strategies that provide the strong foundation of practice don’t work, investigate the individual need and seek external, specialist support.


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