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Finding it really hard to build up a relationship with a child. Anyone been in that situation?

(6 Posts)
TimeToPutAwayTheWinterCoat Sat 23-Feb-19 11:34:19

New child joined at Christmas. I've been teaching for a while and hand on heart, he's the only child I've ever actively disliked.

Playground behaviour is appalling and very carefully targeted at the children who have a disability, children who have something he can laugh at, or children who going through a hard patch at home. However, he never targets the children liable to hit him back.

He has been intensively tutored since Reception and will put his hand up and proclaim that he 'has done this already'. It is true that my class are slightly behind, however I've put a lot of work into their mental arithmetic and grammar. He is very good at rote learning but has no application (e.g. I was using a bit of word problem in multiplication, he didn't know where to begin). He produced one sentence in writing this week. His handwriting and presentation is generally appalling.

I made an appointment with Mum who said, 'yes, I've had to increase his tutor sessions since he moved to this school'

<slams head on desk>

He cannot abide anyone else getting what he perceives to be 'special treatment'. One of my children with autism prefers a certain brand of whiteboard pen so has his own. This child took them out of his tray. There are so many little incidents like that. He is always determined to be the first or the top.

I know that this child is obviously unhappy. I know that. But dear me, I dislike him so much sad I feel like I'm in a cycle of negativity with him and I don't know how to get out of it.

OP’s posts: |
BlankTimes Sat 23-Feb-19 12:00:52

Playground behaviour is appalling and very carefully targeted at the children who have a disability, children who have something he can laugh at, or children who going through a hard patch at home. However, he never targets the children liable to hit him back
Bullying's not a strong enough term for that.
I hope you can safeguard the other children from him. As the parent of a disabled kid, I know exactly what it does to a child who is constantly targeted when school do nothing and treat each incident as a one-off whereas you have had the foresight to see a pattern in his behaviour which needs addressing strongly.
Ask whoever does safeguarding at your school to rein him in.

He's obviously displaying serious behavioural difficulties, can school start any type of assessment that will bring him to the attention of professionals?

You could start with His handwriting and presentation is generally appalling for an OT assessment.

He is very good at rote learning but has no application (e.g. I was using a bit of word problem in multiplication, he didn't know where to begin)

That could well be executive function deficit, again an assessment is needed, maybe Ed Psych.

It would be interesting to know why he's being tutored and who is doing it, perhaps school could liaise with the tutor "so they are on the same page" but in reality to find out what personality traits the child has that are evident to them, which may add weight to starting some other investigations.
He is always determined to be the first or the top
Maybe the tutoring is causing this, or his parents?

Have you read Dr. Ross Greene's The Explosive Child and seen his website Lives in the Balance? They may, just may, give you insight into interventions to turn his behaviour around.

LikeALemon Sat 23-Feb-19 12:17:31

It's hard to know, not knowing your school, but if he was at mine then all these behaviour incidents would be being recorded, and parents would be informed every time. For the playground behaviour you're describing, SLT would be involved with talking to parents and he would be missing playtimes etc. If your school is wet on behaviour like this, then do as much as you can as a teacher - writing letters of apology etc.

I would be contacting mum regularly - every time he is unkind to someone. And I would get SLT involved.

I would also arrange a meeting with parents and the SENDCo to discuss his class work and behaviour in class.

Don't play it down for the parents. Say that you have serious concerns about his behaviour and learning. Use the word 'bullying'. I've made the mistake in the past of being all "he seems to be having some issues with..." when parents need you to be very clear and upfront.

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Feb-19 12:24:21

It’s really hard and you know this already but you have to make absolutely sure that he never has any idea that you don’t like him. You have to be scrupulously fair in making sure that he gets praise when he does things well, that you pick him fairly when his hand is up in class and so on. If he says he has done something before, then say ‘fab, you should be able to whizz through these questions and then I can give you something more challenging’. Make an effort to catch him being good and chat to him about non-school things, because it’s so tempting to focus on the negatives when there’s a child who is insanely irritating.

Yes to getting SENCo involved for his presentation and handwriting.

Why has he joined your school midyear? Is his mum in denial about issues and has moved school because the previous school had concerns? If you have even the slightest notion that she may start blaming you for his lack of work (having to increase tutoring sessions sounds like she might go down this route), then you need to make sure that your back is absolutely covered. Has he been on the happy face/star of the week etc when he has done well? Is he being given extension work if he has covered something with his tutor? If she says that you are ‘picking on him’ for his poor behaviour when others get away with similar, can you hand-on-heart say that you are not?

TimeToPutAwayTheWinterCoat Sat 23-Feb-19 13:15:21

Thank you for the supportive posts, was sweating a bit in case I was flamed!

I'm going to try and answer all the points, please bear with me.

Bullying's not a strong enough term for that.
I know. It's abhorrent. We started off by removing him from the playground and punishing him (all incidents are documented and in a behaviour book). There are quite a few lunch time clubs, so we put him into those to try and structure things more and also have more adult supervision, but he was appallingly rude to the staff. The children have totally distanced themselves from him, which I completely get, but it also means he's even more isolated and isn't going to make him happier.

Mum is no use. He obviously rules the roost at home and she either says that someone else hit him first or goes on about the academic standards. We got in touch with his previous schools and it's a repeating pattern it seems.

Has he been on the happy face/star of the week etc when he has done well?
We've never made it through a week without him being completely and deliberately horrible to another child so we can't have him as star of the week etc.

Is he being given extension work if he has covered something with his tutor?
Yes. I set out several pieces of work for him over the past few weeks which he's been unable to complete (both literacy and numeracy). He's a classic case of being able to do pages of 8 multiplied by 7 equals... but has no understanding of multiplication.

If she says that you are ‘picking on him’ for his poor behaviour when others get away with similar, can you hand-on-heart say that you are not?

This is the trap I felt myself falling into yesterday and I was so bloody conscious of it as I was doing it, I really annoyed myself.

We're generally good at tackling behaviour but he's so different to our usual problematic Y5/6 boy. They usually just explode and you know the red mist has come down over their eyes. He shows no remorse and it's all so targeted. It's so worrying.

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Sat 23-Feb-19 13:25:55

We got in touch with his previous schools

Red flag in the ‘schools’ there. It sounds like this mum is moving her child around schools rather than facing up to the fact that her child has serious issues. You need to raise this with the head and the SENCo to ensure that they know what is going on and that they will have your back when the shit inevitably hits the fan.

If he isn’t going a week without serious incidents then he needs a behaviour plan that will break things down into smaller time frames so that he can be rewarded if he goes a morning without being seriously horrible.

It would be tempting to sit it out and wait till mum has had enough of you and moves this unlovely child to pastures new, but obviously we need to be mindful that he is being failed by her parenting and needs you to intervene in whatever ways you can while you have him.

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