Daring to think differently about children and their behaviour

The biggest frustration I confess I have with Facebook is that it has an uncanny knack of hiding interesting information which I have seen once, and want to revisit, but can’t, because somehow it has disappeared from my feed. It may be my settings, or it may be the algorithm, but the upshot is the same – I can’t always get back to what I have seen, unless I save it immediately. If you have any suggestions about how I can change this, do say – but really, you have better things to do! Anyway, bear with me in this article, because my embarrassment lies not in the fact that I still use Facebook, but more importantly in the fact that I cannot credit the original authors of the comments I want to highlight.

In summary, the following two ideas popped into my feed a few days ago, and they struck me as worthy of sharing, not least in their juxtaposition:

Idea 1:
‘an apparently well-behaved child may not actually be good at self-regulating, but might in fact just be afraid’.

Idea 2:
‘neurology teaches us that children are not badly behaved – they are doing the best in the circumstances they find themselves in, and with the tools they have at their disposal.’

Obviously I am summarising … thanks, Facebook … but – gosh! What if we entertained these two thoughts? How much might this resonate with teachers and families? How about if we could see challenging behaviour as an indication of something that we – as adults or as society in general – are causing, rather than as a deficit on the part of the children themselves? What might this mean for our interaction with, and understanding of, children and young people?

If we strive to have in place a truly student-centred approach to education in our world – education in its broadest sense – then surely the more we embrace (and support) the notion of ‘individualness’, the better. This does not imply that children – or any individual – can simply do as they please, if it harms others, but it does imply that each child has a unique combination of traits, experiences and skills which will lead them to act in certain ways in response to specific stimuli … and maybe it is these stimuli we should be focusing on first, rather than the children themselves. If we can help children understand their responses – in the least judgemental fashion possible – and if we can support them by doing what we can to reduce the stimuli and build their response ‘toolkits’, then might this not make an enormous difference.

At the very least, isn’t it worth trying …?

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