Positive Discipline for Disruptive Classroom Behavior

Positive Discipline for Disruptive Classroom Behavior

Positive Discipline at Home & School for Turning Disruptive Behavior Around

Do you have any suggestions for a child who may be seeking the attention of his classmates? He is being disruptive in class trying to get other children to pay attention to him. He is an only child and due to work, we don’t get many play dates with other children. He gets plenty of attention at home as well as time to play alone. At school he is constantly wanting someone to look at him or laugh at him or talk to him.

Attention Seeking = Connection Seeking

One guess is that your child really seeks connection with his classmates, but mistakenly thinks that attention is what he needs.

Several strategies will help him, but realize that it may take a while for him to learn new skills and especially to change his internal belief about what “friendship skills” to use with his classmates.

Here are Four Strategies Based on Positive Discipline To Turn Around Disruptive Behaviors

Opportunities for Responsibility

1. If the teacher does not offer a system of classroom jobs, I highly recommend this for all classrooms and all age levels. The Positive Discipline way of of using classroom jobs is that there is no reward or incentive for completing the classroom jobs.

This will give the child (and all of the classmates) a way to contribute to the life of the classroom and to feel significant by feeling capable rather than by being the center of attention. All of the jobs should be true jobs that are helpful and not jobs that are simply about status, so I don’t usually recommend “line leader” as a job, but rather jobs such as snack helper, supply manager, plant keeper (watering), etc.

Practice Makes It Possible

2. Teach this child new social skills/friendship skills such as asking questions to classmates about their interests or giving high fives to a classmate after they accomplish a task together, etc. An adult can role play these skills with the child about once a week.

positive discipline classroom behavior

Independence That Encourages Growth

3. Help this child feel more capable at home and at school by allowing him to do as much for himself as possible such as getting dressed, clearing his plate from the table, putting the plate in the dishwasher, etc. Sometimes parents and teacher pamper children in the name of love, but this doesn’t lead to an attitude of capability on the child’s part.

Special Time

4. I would also suggest that his child needs more opportunities to interact with both adults and children in a one on one basis. Hopefully this will create more opportunities for genuine connection with others so he can learn and practice new skills and feel the positive feelings from connecting and interacting with others. Check out the tool of “Special Time” and put special time on the calendar so this child can learn to depend on this time with one or more parent.

New Tools For New Behaviors

My best guess is that this child really wants to connect with others and is using the only tools he has at the moment.

Help him learn new tools and also to change his idea about how to connect with others and what true connection looks like and feels like.

Remember that it will probably take a while for him to learn these new skills and change his beliefs about how to interact with others so be patient while he learns.


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Kelly Pfeiffer is the founder and owner of Think It Through Parenting. A Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer, Kelly teaches live interactive workshops to parents and child care providers on child development, social-emotional skills, self-care for parents, conflict resolution for families and Positive Discipline tools. She’s authored over 100 web articles on child development topics, blogs about Positive Discipline parenting and also teaches creative writing as a writer artist in residence in elementary schools. Kelly is mom/step-mom to two teenagers and two young adults.

3 Responses to Positive Discipline for Disruptive Classroom Behavior

  1. Great tips! My son’s classmates have tons of rotating jobs like wiping the blackboard, collecting and distributing papers, helping out on library day,…
    The Mom asking the question was saying both parents work full time – doesn’t that mean her kid is at daycare and has plenty of opportunity to interact with other kids?

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