Parents and teachers need to be careful not to inadvertently, be the cause of, or exacerbate, a child’s challenging behaviour. A child who behaves this way has some lagging skills although the actions of the adult caregiver can help calm or further disregulate the child and escalate the situation.

Being a parent or teacher requires patience, flexibility and a nurturing approach. It is doubly hard when you are a supply teacher because you don’t have a relationship with the kids or a thorough understanding of student learning profiles.

Recently I was called to a grade 2 class at the end of the lunchtime because of a lot of horseplay, running around and generally causing an unsafe situation. As I arrived the supply teacher was evacuating the class because of the actions of one particular student. The child I wanted to speak to was running in and out of the class, throwing things and generally not complying with the teacher.

With a firm voice and repeating that the child was not in trouble, I eventually got him to slow down, stop, come out from under the desk and sit and talk with me. I tried a Plan B conversation to better understand why this was happening even though it was our first meeting. I was calm and reassured him he was not in trouble and he engaged easily with me.

I told him I noticed there was something hard about the lunch period today. Could he help me understand? To my surprise he immediately told me that he and his regular teacher had a plan to calm him at recess which involved using an Ipad. The supply teacher did not know this and wasn’t sure she was being told the truth, so did not allow it. She may have been concerned about how his Ipad use might affect others who would also want the same. Not adhering to the arrangement helped disregulate him and the resultant behaviour.

It’s not easy being a supply teacher. It’s important to believe the CPS philosophy that “Kids do well if they can” and listen to the kids. In this case I would have believed the child and if what he told me was not true I would have a conversation with him later, kind of like a Plan C now and Plan B later. This would have avoided the power struggle and the impact on the rest of the class. Using more Plan C than Plan A will help teachers, parents and kids stay regulated and be more productive at school and home.