Managing Children’s Behaviour – Are You Digging a Hole Where You Shouldn’t Be?

Managing Children’s Behaviour – Are You Digging a Hole Where You Shouldn’t Be? | By Liz Marsden

When a child is referred to my classes, the school, parents and other professionals who have been involved (having offered their own ideas on what should be done — unsuccessfully, otherwise the child wouldn’t have been referred to me) are at their wits end as to what else can be done. They’ve often decided to involve mental health professionals. At risk of repeating myself, the emphasis is always on there being something wrong with the child. Those involved don’t consider looking at their own behaviour to see if maybe they are doing something wrong…

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Back to energy and using it effectively. The lack of success and the stress involved in dealing with an out of control child — and whatever you’re doing seems to be making things worse — there’s an enormous amount of energy being used. But unfortunately it’s the wrong sort of energy — it’s almost entirely negative. Negative energy isn’t going to do any good and won’t achieve anything…

A young boy in my class a couple of years ago was referred by the most negative school I’ve ever come across — but they thought they were great! I had to tell the school and parents that they must find something positive to say about him. He was only getting negative messages from words, body language and attitude. The child could do nothing right! His life was a misery. What was their answer? They told me there was nothing positive they could say about him! It’s not often that I’m lost for words but I was appalled that a little boy could be spoken of that way. He was very successful in another school!

I was told the school had worked so hard to manage the child, but it had no impact and nothing got any better. I told them I didn’t doubt they’d worked hard, but, and this is a very important message… if you’re not doing it right then all the hard work in the world isn’t going to make it right. Think about digging a hole… you dig like crazy, a big hole — then you finish. You’ve worked so hard and been digging for so long. But, you discover you’ve dug the hole in the wrong place… Oh dear — all that hard work — totally wasted. Not an efficient use of your energy…

The right sort of energy when working in a classroom generally and when dealing with potentially challenging behaviour (and most children have the potential to become challenging if not managed effectively) comes from having confidence in you’re methods. You need a repertoire of appropriate behaviour management techniques to use that you know will work. This isn’t difficult to do… it’s something you can learn quite easily.

Read the techniques. Can you learn just by reading? Yes you can. Much of my behaviour advice at work is given over the phone or by email. The techniques will soon become second nature. Use them consistently — all the time, not part of the time, when you remember or when you can be bothered. All the time is the key…

Liz Marsden is a highly experienced and successful behaviour management expert who works with children demonstrating extreme behaviour. At you can learn Liz’s strategies and techniques. Follow her daily work at to read more about managing behaviour confidently.

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