I Am Out of Ideas for how to REACH this student!!

Funny young school student balancing a pencil on his nose

The question: 

I am a huge believer of positive reinforcement, but I really need some suggestions for appropriate and effective consequences for one of my students.

He is extremely disruptive and disrespectful, and has a problem keeping his hands to himself. I always follow protocol and inform admin about this, but nothing has ever happened (no one has even come to talk to him) and his parents are completely unsupportive and uncooperative.
What are some ways (besides just positive, because I do that a ton!) that I can show him there are consequences without relying on administration or home support?
I am expending so much time and energy on this student, I feel it is unfair to the rest of my kiddos.


The answers:


We have this child in our day care. Well, probably not the same child, but a distance cousin, maybe. I’ll be interested in any suggestions anyone has to offer.


I’m in the same boat…with 3 kids this year. frown emoticon


I have a really tricky, almost power hungry kindergartener this year and for this student positive praise works awesome, but also he knows that he does not automatically receive all the fun things at school because of his behavior. He has to earn them every time. So when we did gingerbread houses or made snow ice cream he had a sticker chart working to earn these activities. He also knows that I never waver on what I say and I am the boss, he has lost many crafts, games and centers (he loves centers and this hurts the most). I always try to make sure it’s a natural consequence, like you choose to not line up from recess so next time you don’t go. You choose to argue with the PE teacher so next time you sit out. You hurt a friend, you can’t play with friends. Hang in there! Deep breaths, every day is a new day!


It is often helpful to chunk the day into smaller sections. The more difficult the situation, the more chunks you might have. I have made board games using stickers or magnets, as a way for the student to track their progress. This gives more opportunities to be successful giving several fresh starts during the day.


I have one like this in first grade. He is so disruptive. Blurts, says inappropriate things, makes loud noises, whines, thinks he’s in charge, etc. I feel like I have tried all of my bag of tricks. I’m trying another tomorrow. Hoping the visual helps. I have 10 pompoms in a clear cup with a smiley. Each day they all start in the cup. If a poor choice is made one will be moved to a sad cup. If a good choice is made it will go back to the happy cup. If we have more poms in happy cup at the end of the day I will put a sticker on his chart and a positive note will go home. He craves attention and I hope the positives will help. When his sticker chart is full, he will get a reward.


 I am definitely for natural consequences, as already mentioned. I also think it’s important to name the issue in front of the entire class and decide as a team what they think is/is not acceptable. If the disrespect is towards the teacher, we give the consequence. If it’s against students or classroom culture, the natural consequence is no friends/no fun etc. Sometimes peer pressure can work in a positive way, though you’ve got to have the right group for that to work! It’s a little bit of a guilt trip but from his audience, instead of just from you.


My son was (is) this way and his kindergarten teacher had the same issues – as parents we expected it knowing how he was with us. It all led to his diagnosis of ADHD and it took several months to find the correct medication/dosage. Positive reinforcement and consequences mean nothing to him. Even though that was 7 years ago, we still struggle some but is a little more manageable. I would encourage you to bring in outside help if the positive reinforcement and consequences are not working.


I have used a behavior chart that mirrors our daily schedule that is hung in the class room. At the end of every time period/subject I model with the student whether or not they earned a happy face. After a few days, the student takes over the position of making a happy, lined or sad face under the column. If there is anything other than a smiley face, a small note is written next to it describing the behavior. In the beginning, we start small with rewards like ipad time or doing helpful chores around the classroom that the student enjoys. I keep the charts for a couple of days to see if there is a pattern of when and where the behavior is happening. It also seems to really work to have the student rate his/herself with the faces. I send the sheets home so the parents can see what is going on and when. That being said, I LOVE the cup idea! I am going to try that one as well. In addition, natural consequences are best too. I am so sorry to hear that your administration isn’t supporting you in this either. Hopefully you have other educators that you can lean on in times like this.


The PAX Good Behavior Game is a life changer. Every district should adopt it and train all the teachers! Often ignoring the one kid is a great strategy. Teach the other kids to ignore too. Our school teaches the students to press their forehead–that’s the “ignore”button and move on with their lives. It gives them power. In addition, it’s a great reward for the other students to get to do something fun–shaving cream, play dough, etc. but he doesn’t. You gotta reward the other kids!


I have 5 out of 20 this year. Yes, 5. It has been the most challenging year I have ever had in my 12 years teaching. I am going to try the behavior chart that Dana suggested. I think having the students take ownership of the chart may help. I hope so. I am at my wits end!


The sad thing – these kids need the most patience but they drain our energy. You just keep doing what you do. Praise. When he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do – an appropriate consequence. I know it’s easier said than done!


You might try a whole class incentive. Decide together what the prize will be, for example “beach party”, then create a large picture on a chart tablet to represent the prize, like a drawing of a big beach umbrella. Use those tiny sticker spots. Reward good behavior with a sticker every time you notice the whole class exhibiting it. Ok…not every time, but often and make a big deal about it. For example: right now I notice everyone is using their active listening, that deserves a big deal point (that’s what I call the stickers). We go all the way around the picture, then the prize is earned. It takes a while but they love it. Since the stickers are so small you can give them out often and it will still take some time and effort to earn the prize. Most times I award for whole group good behavior, but I have also allowed a child such as you described earn stickers for our chart if he/she meets a certain goal (staying focused on reading group, keeping hands to himself…ect.). I don’t worry about the other kids saying that’s not fair, they love that more stickers are being added and I have explained if someone is really working hard on one of our rules it’s a “big deal” if they do well, so that earns a big deal point. It’s a mix of positive reinforcement and a little peer pressure. Everyone wants to help earn the prize, no one wants to be the one who keeps the class from earning it. What if 17 follow a rule and that 1 consistently doesn’t, I say something like…today everyone who is quiet in line will earn us a point and then I even let them each put the sticker on which is s huge deal! You can use it so many ways, it’s even a great math tool because we mark off each 10, then count by 10’s to see how many we have. Some prizes we’ve had over the years: beach party, ice cream party (I draw a huge ice cream cone), extra recess time (I draw swings)…you get the idea.


Have him sit at a desk or table away from other children but where he can still see the lesson. Sometimes has a calming effect. Also watch to see if he is eating anything with red dye in it. It makes them more hyper. Try positive reinforcement if he stays at the desk when he is supposed to.


Maybe he has an undiagnosed disability. I would ask the school counselor to come and observe and see if there is something he/she can do to help. I had two special needs children and I followed the party line about ‘positive’ reenforcement, it only works so far. Becoming aware of my youngest adoptive daughters fetal alcohol problems was a huge eye opener. I was then able to be more specific in her child rearing. Uncooperative/unsupportive parents are, in my opinion, the first signs that this child is going to need a bit more than attention than most. It is my firm belief that when this child gets older and more capable of controlling themselves, they will look back and truly appreciate the adults that didn’t give up on them. My daughter is an adult now and when she is able, she lets me how much she appreciates that I didn’t give up. Good Luck to you, I know your struggle. I don’t know you personally, but I appreciate what you do in your pursuit to mold today’s children.


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