Year: 1997-1998
Month: February
Leader: Group K

Situation/Case Study:

The child with the inappropriate behavior problems has been diagnosed ADHD. He has major self-esteem issues and the other kids are on his case all the time. The child is clueless. He doesn't recognize the inappropriateness of his actions. He is socially inept, has no social skills with other students, and engages in compulsive behaviors. His work is often not completed, he grabs things, is argumentative and controlling, ignores or doesn't read body language, and he often plays the victim. He seems to prefer negative attention. The other students (and teachers) find him obnoxious and annoying. Students don't want anything to do with him or get aggressive toward him. He becomes passive aggressive or pouts when the teacher attempts to discuss his behaviors with him. In discussions with the parents, they report being frustrated at home with him as well. Even his siblings don't want to play with him. The teacher has made a number of suggestions but there seems to be no follow through on the part of the parents. The home seems somewhat unstable. The parents aren't introspective or reflective and don't seem to know how to follow through or always recognize the inappropriateness of the behaviors. His parents have said they don't care about his grades or his school work (and therefore don't follow through on helping make sure he does his work at home) but say they are only concerned with his making friends.

A teacher in this situation might feel frustrated, not knowing how to help, out of ideas, upset that the other kids are being insensitive to the child and worried about how this will affect the child’s self-esteem. A teacher in this situation might feel really frustrated. The student needs to be aware of what is acceptable behavior, how to make and be a friend. The teacher feels frustrated and annoyed because this child doesn’t seem to take any clues from her to improve himself or to solve problems. The teacher may feel frustrated because there doesn’t seem to be progress in dealing with friendships or behaviors. The teacher may feel frustrated and concerned, wondering what more can be done to help this family, what to do next, how to help despite the parent. The teacher may feel frustrated, embarrassed by the other students’ reactions and worried about the child’s self-esteem. A teacher in this situation may feel defensive, her authority threatened, and tired of dealing with this child. The teacher my feel frustrated, worried for the child, helpless, and running out of ideas. A teacher in this situation who truly FEELS for this child may decide to give up and may also feel repelled by the child which results in GUILT rather than solutions because there may seem no way out of this situation. HELPLESS. A teacher in this situation may choose to no longer put forth the effort to help this child when the parents are choosing to not follow through (child won’t do homework and the parents say they don’t care what his grades are). The teacher feels bad because her annoyance with the student is obvious to the other students.

Theories behind practice:
The most common way for children to learn socialization skills and appropriate behavior is through observation of others (Social Learning Theory.) However, in this instance, there seems to be some indication that the home may not have provided early models of appropriate behavior, so that social development is delayed. The child also seems to have strong attention needs that are not being met in positive ways, so he has learned that he does get attention when he behaves inappropriately and thus this behavior is what is reinforced. When these patterns are learned, they are hard to change, requiring shaping and other cognitive behavioral methods to establish new patterns so that the child begins to be rewarded for appropriate behaviors and these behaviors replace the negative ones. This does require time and work and consistency and should involve the family as well, often a difficult thing to do.

Impact on others:

Enroll the child in a school social skills group at school. Develop a cueing system (possible hand signals like cut) to help him become aware of when he is behaving inappropriately. Give him a Stop and Think reminder sheet on his desk to help him with his impulsivity. Ask the family to revisit the doctor and his medication. Some kids respond better to Sudafed than Ritalin. Have him work on skills streaming with the social worker or be part of a friendship-social skills group. Have the social worker visit the class and talk about how to help individuals without shouting at them. Discuss respect and ways of communicating respectfully. Have the teacher talk to the whole class to clarify roles (my job is to..your job is to.) and to discuss perhaps through role playing respectful and appropriate responses, a code of conduct, how to interact in different classroom and playground situations.

In the course of the discussion, several teachers mentioned that they had experienced similar kinds of situations with certain students and how difficult this was to deal with especially when the child was particularly annoying. They all agreed the later it gets in the year the greater the temptation to ignore, knowing the problem will be going away as far as they are concerned and yet won't for the child. Most agreed that the discussion provided ideas for dealing with many of the peripheral problems that attend an annoying child (i.e., when classmates take over the teacher role.) The teacher of the child felt that she was better prepared to deal with him and encouraged that others shared her experiences and frustrations from time to time.