Help with behavior issue

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by pabef, Nov 1, 2016.

  1. pabef

    pabef Comrade

    Sep 21, 2007
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    Nov 1, 2016

    I teach pre-k at a small church preschool. I have a student I need advice about. "Sara" (fake name) is great in the classroom in centers and does a great job in circle time. However in large groups like on the playground with others or at breakfast when we are with another class, she has issues. She hurts other students feelings by saying ugly things to them or saying they cant play or be part of her club. She told a friend who was proud of a new haircut that it looked like Gaston off "Beauty and the Beast". If someone does something to her like hits her or pushes her, whether intentionally or by accident, she hits or kicks them worse than what was done to her. The teacher she had last year constantly had her in time out. She also did not have a structured classroom, so she was always in trouble in class as well. I have really made an effort to keep her engaged in activities and be involved with her. I have also limited time out to worse case issues because I am not a fan of time out. Also, it doesn't work with her. She did better for a while but then regressed. I talked with her parents and we agreed on a sticker chart and rewards for good behavior at school and at home. I talked with "Sara" about thinking about her words before she said them. "Will this hurt someone's feelings? Will this cause me to lose my sticker"? This worked for a while, but is now no longer working and I find myself losing my temper, which I don't like to do. I don't think she can go all week and be rewarded on Friday, but doing a daily thing seems too much. One other thing... the other teachers are really quick to put her in time out on the playground and the afternoon staff do as well. Her mother told me she is always in time out when she is picked up. The other staff think I am too easy on her, but I'm trying to redirect negative behavior and praise good behavior. Any suggestions would be welcomed!
  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Jul 27, 2015
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    Nov 1, 2016

    I've worked mostly in Christian schools. From the description above, I'm seeing several clues that might assist in Sara's situation. I'm curious if Sara and the other students are falling into a Pavlovian pattern of behavior. Because she's only in pre-K, stimuli happen and she repeatedly responds in a similar habitual manner. To her, possibly this is her normal day at school; she expects to be in time out. I am wondering if Sarah's comments to others are sometimes being misperceived, and if they're also snowballing into further comments meant to cause a negative reaction. The example of comparing a student's haircut to Gaston is quite clever for a 4-year-old, and at that age, Sara might have been just making a description, not as a complement or a criticism, just a description; but because the other students perceive her comments as having resulted in adverse reactions, they habitually react to this stimulus in a negative manner. A further possibility, because her brain is rapidly accumulating and pruning language development, and she seems rather precocious in languaging, she is experimenting with her language in various social settings. Even actual nasty comments might not be intentionally mean; although I agree learning what's appropriate and inappropriate is part of her development. Her early exposure to videos might have also exposed her to phrases to try; again, if she parrots such cartoon shenanigans, she might not intentionally mean to hurt someone's feelings.

    I hope my suggestions don't sound critical. It sounds like Sara's got a great teacher; she's so fortunate to have you guiding her with your concern and attention. There've been many times I've misinterpreted my students' reactions and behavior. Perhaps a good solution would be to have another staff member observe Sara during the day. S/he will see the overall picture that's difficult to impossible for a teacher to see while conducting class. Another trick I've used is to type up a detailed narrative at the end of the day of everything good, bad, or otherwise that happened with the student. Sometimes little patterns or coincidences that I've missed pop out to me when I read over what I've written.

    I agree with you concerning the time out; it's not working, so why do more of the same. Redirection can certainly be a better avenue of choice. I also agree with you that violent reactions should receive immediate focus so that no one gets hurt. My experience has always been elementary and middle school ages, so I hope I'm not delving too far out of my expertise. Every 4-year-old will react in some manner when s/he feels endangered since they are still reacting through their lower brain and their upper brain's objective responses are still in the early, early stages of development. Perhaps some role play pretending would be helpful in redirecting her reactions. I might even include a phrase to say to herself while she pretends to respond appropriately, perhaps an easy Bible verse since this is a church school. Another (weird) trick, but it works, sometimes students in church schools sit for an extended period. Adding a few standing up moments can send more oxygen to the brain aiding the students' thinking skills, and this quick boost can aid a student in her/his verbal learning and responses.

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