Some youngsters have a well-learned pattern of trying to get attention and status by disrupting class. No doubt you remember these class clowns from your school days. Their behavior is a sad symptom of low self-esteem and a cry for help. One strategy is to ignore inappropriate behaviorChildren Who Are Too QuietAlthough ignoring inappropriate bids for attention may be the best approach for some children’s growth, there are many other children who may be inadvertently ignored. It is easy to overlook some very quiet children. The too-quiet ones should cause more serious concern than the too-loud ones because they may have given up. They may have quit trying to get their needs met. They often appear blank or unhappy, uninvolved in activities, andgenerally unsuccessful. Sometimes these children assume victim roles, but more often they seem to fade into the background. They are often neglected by their peers and overlooked by inexperienced or harried teachers. You mayfind yourself wishing that they would actively disagree with something, get upset, or show some strong emotion—even if it’s disruptive!Observing for Academic NeedsYou will get clues to the cause by observing the child’s specific behaviors andby noting the circumstances surrounding the problem. Does the child look upset or anxious when confronted with the task? Does the child appear disinterested or distracted? Is the child intrigued by something else instead? If so, what is it that appeals? What kinds of tasks go uncompleted? Does the child only avoid writing, for example, or does he or she avoid all work? Depending on the answers to these kinds of questions, you may decide that
the child lacks the ability to succeed at the task, or you might decide that he or she is not sufficiently challenged by it.Challenges Beyond AcademicsProviding challenge does not necessarily mean academics or rote learning. If you try to redirect a running child to a quiet activity, such as reading a book, you will likely have a problem in the book area before long. Whether indoors or outdoors, adults plan the environment, materials, and schedules carefully to provide challenge and promote success for the children. When there are manyloose partsand the materials from one area can easily combine with another, morecomplex playand problem solving are likely to occur.Changes with MaturityThe need for success, coupled with the need for appropriate challenge, continues as the young child matures. Finding the right balance for each child is essential to avoiding the problem behaviors caused by either boredom or frustrationNeed for Love and AcceptanceFeeling unloved and rejected can cause some dreadful behaviors. Wouldn’t you think that someone wanting to be liked would try to behave in a likeable way? But no, that’s not how it is. Children who feel unloved lack the skills and self-confidence to behave kindly toward others.