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Rewarding bad behaviour

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by oscar1mn, Apr 1, 2019.

  1. oscar1mn

    oscar1mn New commenter


    Let me start saying that I have great respect for the teaching profession. I was a secondary school teacher for four years and left it because it is a difficult job and with an enormous impact for society. So, first of all thank you to all the teachers.

    I would like your professional advice about a strategy my P2 daughter's teacher is following in a class with a problematic child. This is happening in a primary school in a middle class neighbourhood, and as far as I know there are no endemic discipline problems.

    There are around 22 children in the class and one of them is very aggressive, since day one he throws chairs in the air, does not sit when he wants and throws stuff to other children. He is also a very smart child and will listen and challenge the teacher even though he is roaming around the classroom.

    The teacher doesn't punish his bad behaviour but rewards him when he doesn't behave badly. I will give you a few examples. When he behaves:
    - he is given stickers to give away to other children, once he said that the stickers were for those children that would do a fortnite dance, which the teacher opposed
    - he gets the tablet to play
    - he sits on teacher's lap, and once he show the finger to the class when the teacher was looking other way
    - he gets to play with whatever toy he wants

    Do you think this is a strategy that will work? And if not, what mechanisms do I have as a parent to convince leadership team to change it?

    Many thanks
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I think they are employing the "catch him being good" strategy. Does it work? Often. Does it take time? Yes.

    But the aggression? That's not permissible. Simple Health and Safety. Threaten to send your grandchild elsewhere.

    I'm all for catching them being good. You also have to explain to the class why he is treated differently.

    "Does anyone wonder why James can do some naughty things and still get stickers? I'm going to explain. I think it's hard for James to behave sometimes so, when he does things properly (even little things), I need to let him know he's doing OK. I like it when James behaves well and I think you do too. So we are going to help him by telling him when he gets things right."

    It's one of many things you can do in terms of behaviour modification. It isn't a magic bullet though.

    And hurting other people? No way.
  3. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    I can see the reward the positive working in the long run, however anything H&S related, throwing chairs around for instance cannot be ignored and must be sanctioned.
  4. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    It's a fine line between the 'catch them being good' approach and 'allow child who displays disruptive behaviour to have lots and lots of perks that the well behaved majority will never get'. Good schools understand the difference. Not so good schools think they are doing the former but are actually doing the latter.

    Stickers used well can be part of positive behaviour management. Giving a child repeatedly preferential treatment and the ability to get what they want over their peers doesn't sound like good behaviour management. As for the aggression? Not a chance.
  5. nomad

    nomad Star commenter


    Report inappropriate behaviour?
    madcatlady likes this.
  6. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    I remember one occasion when the worst child in the school, he was a bullying, abusive, aggressive thug, and these were some of his better attributes, won the prize for the most positive behaviour points that year. Problem was that teachers had used the system to try to bribe him into being better. It didn't work. He did get a prize at assembly and this was a real insult to every good, hardworking well behaved child that had ever had a lesson ruined by him or been a victim of his bullying.
    Yes reward this boys good behaviour but make sure that every child who comes in and is polite and well mannered, hard working and well behaved and does this all day every day is praised and rewarded for their effort and behaviour.
    He will lean just as much from seeing how good behaviour is rewarded in others.
  7. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    None. You'll be told to mind your own business. That's not to say that you can't raise issues that are impacting on your own child. "Jemima gets quite scared when James is throwing things." "Jemima saw James sticking his finger up at the rest of the class when you weren't looking, and wasn't sure whether she should say something." "Jemima keeps asking me why James is allowed to..., and I'm not sure what you would like me to say to her."
  8. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    Crikey! I think we must have worked at the same school and been in the same assembly! Unless lots of dodgy schools are run along similarly misguided lines!
  9. mm71

    mm71 Occasional commenter

    I thought this was about the rude/aggressive/incompetent/toady staff who get promotions... never mind...
  10. mswisdom

    mswisdom New commenter

    agathamorse likes this.
  11. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    If this is true, then it clearly is inappropriate behaviour, and the teacher concerned is totally wrong in allowing it to happen. It might be considered a safeguarding issue. However, I would be a bit concerned about the idea of making a serious accusation based only on the word of a child. If you do inform the school, that part of it is unlikely to be ignored, which could result in serious trouble for the teacher concerned. Imagine the thread that starts "I have been suspended from school because of an allegation from a child that...".
    annascience2012 likes this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    No, that strategy won’t work. He will learn that being bad then stopping will get him what he wants. And it works better than being good all the time.

    What they should do is identify when people in the class are behaving well and include him in that (Billy, nice to see you sitting up and ready to work. I can see Lily is ready too. Damien Luciferson, you can have a tick as well...) but he should not get anything that the ordinary, well behaved children don’t. And he should loose those rewards if he acts up.
  13. BertieBassett2

    BertieBassett2 Star commenter

    I once did a day's supply work at a school with a 'good' reputation locally. Well, let's just say I asked the agency not to send me there again. However - and this has stuck with me -in the playground I overheard a boy in the class (Year 6) tell his friend that he was 'embarrassed to be in a school where bad behaviour is rewarded'. Maybe there is some hope?
    george1963 and agathamorse like this.
  14. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Twins in my son's primary school class, from a very difficult background, were treated in this way. Their peers understood that their situation was a little different but it didn't stop them feeling deeply aggrieved about what they saw as very preferential treatment. And it didn't work. The boys were transformed when they went to secondary school and were no longer rewarded for bad behaviour and were given high expectations.
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    This child is 5/6 years old. The fact he behaves this way tells us something is very wrong in his life. He should not even know the existence of Fortnight, let alone the dance. He should never have seen someone showing the finger, let alone know a context for it. Throwing chairs should be something totally outside of his experience.

    This doesn't mean I think he should be allowed to show these behaviours, more than punishing him won't work because he won't know they are wrong...someone somewhere has taught him this is ok and it will take a long time to convince him otherwise.

    Rewarding good behaviour and ignoring the bad is a great strategy with such young children. Giving him stickers, not for himself but to share with others is a fabulous reward. Time on a computer is a frequently used reward by parents and teachers, so can't really object to that. Similarly time to choose a toy to play with isn't that unusual. I'm more a fan of praise rather than reward, but in a class of 22 five year olds rewards are probably less time consuming.

    If the sitting on the lap is an explicit reward for being good, then there is a problem.
    If the child just happens to climb on the teacher's lap, then this is pretty normal with that age group. Being good and being praised for it is probably unusual for this child and climbing on a teacher's lap to cling to her and hide himself away for a few moments is probably something he needs. It's great that the teacher is confident enough to allow this and that your child goes to a school with such a nurturing ethos.

    Yes, I do think the strategy will work, but it will take time. Being patient, explaining why some children haven't got kind parents who teach them how to be nice will be the best thing you can do for your child.
  16. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    Some of my pupils take offence when I tell them that they cannot "work off" and already instigated sanction. Lots of "that's not fair, everyone* else does it!"

    Thanks "everyone" else for undermining behaviour. I know it is not "everyone" but I would not at all be surprised if it was a reasonable percentage. and I would be willing to bet there would be a correlation with those who female dog about the poor behaviour of the kids.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    It's easy for us to pontificate.

    If you don't get support from your senior staff or, worse still, they insist that you treat the child like this or get your matching orders? What are you to do?

    Left to our own devices? Every kid would behave perfectly. Obviously. ;)o_O:rolleyes:

    OK, proximity praise. Don't single him out. Just praise him when he's behaving well on his table or in the line or in his Maths group. And praise the kids right next to him for doing the right things.
  18. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    kids are very clever at manipulating situations and can be very devious - the classic lines of 'everyone else does it' or 'your the only teacher who enforces that rule' are common.
    Don't engage with these conversations, I Know that can be easier said than done. Trust your colleagues, most will be supporting behaviour codes, surprisingly the worst offenders for undermining behaviour codes are often SLT. I have often said when confronted with such statements, 'good for them - when you are with that teacher follow their rules, now follow mine' end of conversation, ignore any further nonsense.
    afterdark and agathamorse like this.
  19. Toomuchtooyoung

    Toomuchtooyoung Occasional commenter

    Have to agree with caterpillarbutterfly. At that age praising good behaviour is an effective approach. So many children have grown up being told they are naughty or bad and thats all the attention they get, they don't know how to self-regulate and behave.
    Sitting on the teacher's knee, shouldn't be encouraged.
    agathamorse likes this.
  20. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    I agree that praising positive behaviour is effective. What I would also want to know is that there are effective sanctions for inappropriate behaviour and that they are applied consistently.

    Proximity praise, catching him being good are useful strategies, but the child needs to learn that he is subject to sanctions too.

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