What Can I Do About a Child Who Disrupts Class?
By Dr. Stacie Bunning, clinical psychologist
Do you have any suggestions on what to do when there is a child in the classroom who has disruptive behavior two to five times a week? This child uses unacceptable language, screams and yells, throws objects, and takes things from other students while they are at center time. He does not demonstrate remorse for the language he uses or the behavior he displays.
Disruptive students can negatively impact the entire class, eliciting fear, resentment or even imitation from others students. Teachers can become frustrated as their attention is repeatedly focused on the child who acts out, rather than the entire class. There are a few ways to approach this issue, depending on your level of involvement.
- If you personally witnessed these behaviors (i.e. when volunteering in the classroom, assisting the teacher or participating in classroom activities) then a conversation with the classroom teacher to express your concerns seems in order. What has he noticed? How are the behaviors handled? What is the behavior plan for this child? Is there anything that you should do to help?
- If you are a parent and your child is coming home and complaining about the disruptive child, then take some time to discern what your child is really upset about. Is he afraid that something bad will happen? In that case, it's a safety issue; provide reassurance and refer to the third option below. Is he annoyed because the disruptive child appears to get away with "bad" behavior? In that case, talk about the importance of following rules and treating others nicely.
- If your child is afraid or has been harmed, don't hesitate to speak with the teacher and/or the school principal about your concerns. Safety is a primary concern in the school environment, and behaviors that put others at risk should not be tolerated.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.