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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Challenging Behavior

Challenging behavior is “behavior that tests an adult’s ability to support the child; usually in the eye of the beholder” (Marion, pg. 291). What may be a challenging behavior to one teacher may not be a challenging behavior to another. I’ve seen some very strict teachers and some more laid back teachers. I think it’s important to find a good balance and address challenging behaviors early on.

Last year I visited a first grade classroom at Hillside Elementary. The teacher that I visited let her students chat a bit during their art project. The teacher across the hall was very strict and did not allow any talking. As we were walking out to the hall I could hear the teacher lecturing her students about being completely quiet during art or they may not get to do fun activities like that anymore.

In a classroom there can be hot spots, “ times when a teacher might feel less confident about their guidance” (Marion, pg. 294) or there could be cool times “ periods of relative peace and serenity in the classroom” (Marion, pg. 294). I’ve been in a classroom where there has been “incidents of challenging behavior in a classroom” (Marion, pg. 294). At lab there was a time when Sophia was smashing blocks against the table. The other children were annoyed of Sophia smashing the blocks and some even told her to stop too. A lab students told her to stop and she did not, so one of the teachers had to step in and talk to her. She said “ That is not how we play with the blocks and if you can’t play with them correctly we might have to have you go to another center”. Sophia had a positive response to that and followed instructions. I think the lab student learned how to handle a similar situation in the future, I know I did.

It’s not always the case that students will immediately comply and follow directions. There are many factors that can contribute to challenging behavior such as developmental characteristics, unmet needs, lack of skills, and factor in the classroom. Developmental characteristics are “factors in a child’s growth that contribute to challenging behavior” (Marion, pg. 295). For example, a child is unable to understand and/or control anger. Maybe a child has unmet needs. For example, he does not get enough sleep or he is hungry. It’s possible that the child lacks skills, such as being unable to handle joining a group. Lastly, there could be factors in the classroom or environmental issues that could be the reason for the behavior.

In conclusion, I think it’s important to recognize what is causing the problem and try to fix it early on. The text mentions that some children may not respond to positive guidance strategies and may persist with challenging behaviors, but even then it is possible to support most children with challenging behaviors. It might take a little help from other outside sources, but it can be done. When I have visited classroom I have not seen any major behavior issues. I have seen the occasional reminder to follow directions, but I haven’t seen really challenging behavior.


Marion, Marian. Guidance of Young Children. N.p.: Pearson, 2007. Print.

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