Dealing with the Difficult Child

If you’ve been a teacher for more than a day, you’ve probably had to deal with a difficult child. 
When you’re little and dream of becoming a teacher, you never imagine having a behavior problem in your class.  However, then comes the real world and you quickly realize that there’s no such thing as a “perfect” class.  You will always have some type of behavior issues to deal with.  I have definitely had my share and some years are worse than others.  Here are some tips that I have found to be successful:
1. Focus on the Positive in Your Classroom
I have found that the best way to get students to behave is to make a HUGE deal about the students that are doing the right thing.  Using the behavior clip chart has been amazing for this.  {Check out the post here.}

A new component to the chart that I have added this year is to put a sticky jewel that I bought at JoAnn Fabric’s on a clip when a student has reached purple.  Once they earn 5, I wear their clip around my neck attached to a piece of string for the day, then they get to take it home with them.  At that point, their name goes on the board under Five Jeweled Behavior, and I include their name in the weekly newsletter.  Any student earning this title will get to come to an Eat with the Teacher Celebration at the end of each month.  We will order pizza and eat in the classroom together.
Just having a good system that rewards the good behavior in your class can be enough to get many students to step it up.  Plus, it’s a lot more fun to focus on the positive!

2. Always Make Your First Contact with Parents a Positive One
I never make my first note home or first phone call home about something negative. Even if you have the most challenging student in the world, deal with it until you send home at least one positive letter or make a positive phone call.    {Trust me, this can be very difficult to do sometimes.}  You can always find something positive to say about each child and this will let the parents know that you care about their prized possession.  They will be much more willing to help out with poor behavior if they know that you are not always going to give them bad news.
I love sending home Positive Postcards that I order from Vistaprint.

3. Find Something You Have in Common
Discover what your “behavior problem” child likes and learn about it.  If they love sharks, get some shark books and use these as a reward or read them and have a discussion with the child.  If the child has a favorite tv show or movie, watch it and talk about it with him/her.  
4. Recognize EVERY Little Thing that the Child Does Correctly
 For a child that is a behavior issue, you need to take notice of every single thing that they are doing right and make a big deal of it.  For example, if “Johnny” is standing correctly in line, make sure you say, “I love how Johnny is standing.  Wow Johnny!  I am so proud of you!”
It can be a long road for some students, but eventually you will start to see some improvement for a longer period of time.  At this point, I usually present the student with a sticker that they can put on their shirt so everyone in the school can recognize their good behavior.  {I just write a message on a name tag.}

5. Practice, Practice, Practice
 Students need tons and tons of practice and modeling of good behavior.  It seems so repetitive sometimes, but it’s totally worth it.  We have tons of discussions about how we should behave the right way, even when no one is watching.  Using our 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we discuss about being proactive.

Click to download

{Graphics by Scrappin Doodles}

7. Show Them You Love Them
 Nothing is more important than showing your students that you love them and truly care for them.  Greet your students every day with a smile and a good morning.  For those students that need some extra support, make sure you remind them numerous times throughout the day that you are glad they are here.  When a “difficult” child comes in late, say something like, “I am so glad you are here today Johnny!  I would have missed you so much if you weren’t at school today!”  Just think…it might be the first nice thing that child has heard today. 
I’d love to hear how you deal with behavior issues in your classroom.  Link up below.  If it’s a new post on your blog, please place a link back to Fun In First, so everyone can check out your amazing ideas.  Also, be sure to link up your post, not just your blog url or the link will be deleted.  Thanks

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  1. Jodi,
    I too love yourhabits page. Awesome! How have you incorporated the habits into your classroom and do you have sheets like this for other habits?
    Thanks for sharing.


  2. I am a 4th & 5th grade teacher…plus I am a newby. 2nd year teacher but my first year to be in a full classroom. I'm looking for some type of behavior/discipline chart but everything I have seen so far is geared more for the little ones. I love the colored chart where they move their clothespin as I feel having the child move their own is a big deal. Currently I just write their name on the board and use check marks for 2nd and 3rd behavior issues. I would like feedback on how to incorporate this type of system into a higher grade. I have thought about using a yard stick painted with the colors as well. Any thoughts? Reena

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