Challenging behaviours is any behaviour that:

  •  Interferes with the child’s cognitive, social and emotional development.
  •  Is harmful to a child, his peers or adults.
  •  Puts a child at high risk for later social problems or school failure. (Chandler and Dalquist, 1997).

These behaviours are not only challenging for the students, it puts him in danger by preventing him from learning what he needs to know to succeed in school and get along with his peers. The behaviour could also be challenging for the student because he probably does not have much control over it. Teachers, guardians/ families and agencies often find themselves at a loss, unable to figure out how to turn things around, how to make the situation tenable, how to help the student get back on tract, behaving appropriately and feeling good about himself.


Try these six tips to help:

1. Refrain from labelling: Challenging is not the only label used for these behaviours, they are often labeled very negatively: high maintenance, antisocial, bad, out of control, hard to manage, attention seeking, disruptive, impulsive, aggressive, non-compliant and oppositional.

2. Know the student’s strength: Build on the student’s strengths as this offers opportunities for success.

3. Parents and teachers be aware of your ‘buttons’: Do not allow students to push them. Remember that should you get angry or raise your voices, you are modelling the very behaviour you are trying to eliminate.

4. Tell students what they are expected to do: Refrain from telling student what they are not to do. Instead of saying ‘don’t run in the hallway’, say please ‘walk in the hallway’.

5. Give opportunities to choose: Be aware of how many choices the student is able to handle.

6. Be patient: Look for small changes, these will tell you if you are on the right tract.


Even when you use these preventative methods consistently, challenging behaviours do not disappear. Approaches in school should be combined with similar approaches at home to ensure success. The basis of all guidance is a caring and compassionate relationship. When students know that you care, that student will respond more positively to your support.

Stay tuned : Is challenging behaviour ever appropriate!