Supporting your child with challenging behaviour
Our students often display behaviours that have made it hard for them to cope in mainstream schools. Sometimes these behaviours can cause difficulties at home too. It can be hard for parents and carers to know how to respond to these behaviours sometimes. This information gives some ideas that might be helpful.
What causes challenging behaviours?
There are many reasons why children might display challenging behaviour. The two most common ones that we see in our students are (1) behaviours caused by emotional difficulties and (2) behaviours caused by underlying conditions.
- Behaviours are often the only way a child knows to communicate how they are feeling. There might be ongoing emotional difficulties because of a bereavement, other kinds of loss, experience of trauma or other difficult experiences
- Some children have conditions such as ADHD and autistic spectrum condition (ASC) that can cause challenging behaviours
How can I support my child’s needs?
- Providing as much consistency and routine as possible. When there are significant changes coming, try to give your child some warning and ask them about any worries they have about the change.
- Try to spend more time on noticing and praising / rewarding positive behaviours than criticising negative behaviours. Make sure you acknowledge even small positives. This builds self-esteem and is the most effective way to motivate children to change behaviours.
- Decide on one or two non-negotiable behaviours that you feel need to change so you can let go of some of the more minor behaviours. This makes it easier for you and also gives your child a manageable task to achieve.
- De-escalate conflict situations with your child by taking some time out yourself or not responding to their provocations. Try the unexpected by praising a small thing they’re doing right in a challenging situation.
- Emotional difficulties can be supported by finding regular time to check in with your child. It can help to do something together while talking (e.g. a game, sport, cooking, watching a programme) as children often find this easier. Mixing easy chat with slightly more challenging chat about feelings can also help. Don’t worry about finding solutions. Although this can sometimes be helpful, often just being listened to is enough.
- Offer small gestures of unconditional love for your child that don’t depend on good behaviour. For example, bringing a drink, offering to do a favourite activity, buying a small present, or cooking a favourite meal. Depending on your child’s difficulties, you might not get thanked initially, but these gestures will still have a positive impact
- Help your child develop tools to manage their emotions. Explore what works for your child with them. It could be:
- Listening t music, playing a musical instrument
- Taking a bath
- Ding something physical like using a punch bag, riding a bike, working out
- Talking t someone
- Scribbling n paper / stamping on a cardboard box
- A soothing sensory activity like running cold water over wrists, playing with a fidget toy or blu tac, having a hug
When you and your child have worked out what helps them manage their emotions, prompt them to use those strategies before things escalate too far.
- Avoid your child splitting adults and creating divisions. Work together in a joined-up way with other family members, school staff etc.
- Children need attention to develop socially and emotionally and attention-seeking is actually healthy. Some children with challenging behaviour may have an extra need for attention because of insecure feelings. That can be difficult for parents but some strategies that may help include:
- Reassuring them yu have enough love to share with all of your children
- Trying t spend some 1-1 time with your child although of course that may not always be possible
- Short moments of attention can sometimes be enough - a smile across the room, acknowledging what they’re doing, praise for a good behaviour etc.
- If your child has a condition like ASC or ADHD, help your child feel that they have some control over their condition while at the same time acknowledging the real difficulties it can cause.
- Finally, it’s important to look after yourself too. Caring for a child with challenging behaviour can feel exhausting and emotionally draining. Identify sources of support both in your network of family and friends and through professional and community avenues if needed. Reach out for help when you need it. Also try to find time for self-care and work out what nourishes you. If you look after yourself, you are also looking after your child too as you will have more strength to give them what they need. Staff at Beckmead College are there to support you as well as your child and can help you to access professional support from other agencies too if you would like this. There are also other sources of advice and help (see below).
Sources of support
- Parent’s advice line for guidance on children’s mental health 0808 802 5544 from 9:30am - 4pm, Mon - Fri (Young Minds)
- Kooth online community for young people - www.kooth.com
- Free text service for children and young people (Shout): Text 85258
- Advice on looking after your mental health www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-mental-health
- Support for dads (including peer support): www.dad.info/
If you have any comments or suggestions about how we help and support you with your child's education, please let us know.
You can do this by:
- Contacting an SLT member of staff in person, by phone or by email.
- Complete the online parent survey below:
Parental Comments from our Questionnaire:
"Beckmead College has helped my son so much, he has always been told at his previous schools he would never get anywhere in life or pass any of his exams, and yet Beckmead has helped my son smash his exams, and he is happy going to school"
"I feel the school is a safe environment and they make education fun"
"The staff are friendly and amazing, they are great at communicating and always leave voice messages if they can't get through to me. I feel like im heard when I talk to staff members. Thank You"
"I cant really say what could be done better as my child is constantly improving at Beckmead. Just keep doing what you are doing!"
- 90% of parents feel their child is safe at Beckmead College.
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