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Glastonbury Thorn School


Challenging behaviour

Challenging behaviour


It is normal if your child’s behaviour is a bit more challenging than usual at the moment. Children and young people often express how they’re feeling through they’re behaviour – and many young people are feeling uncertain, anxious or frustrated right now.

Challenging behaviour can, however, be exhausting for you as a parent, and it’s important to find ways of managing it that work for you.

Just like us, children behave differently at different times. Feeling upset, sad, cross, frustrated and lots of other kinds of emotions is a normal and healthy part of their life. Many children go through phases of testing boundaries, and they are likely to behave in ways that are harder to manage when they are tired, ill or stressed. It is normal for younger children to have tantrums sometimes, while older children may sometimes shout, storm out or lash out.

When we talk about ‘challenging behaviour’, we mean behaviours that are persistent and difficult for both you and your child to manage. This includes things like:

Having lots of angry outbursts

Regularly shouting, swearing and being very argumentative

Frequently hitting, biting or kicking others

Kicking, smashing or damaging things in their home or school

Being unkind or bullying towards other family members or children

Persistently getting into trouble at school.


My child isn’t following the restrictions

At a time when we are experiencing so much change, uncertainty and worry, it is normal for young people to want to be around friends and family. Due to social distancing rules, they may not be able to visit, hug or be physically close to loved ones, and this can feel frustrating and upsetting.

You may be finding it difficult to support your child to comply with the restrictions. If this is the case, here are some tips to help you:

  • Empathise with your child’s feelings about the situation – letting them know that it’s okay to feel however they feel. This will help them to feel heard, reducing feelings of anger and resentment.
  • Give your child clear and strong messages about why it is still important to abide by the rules. Remind them that these rules are for their safety, as well as yours and the people around them.
  • Keep boundaries around their behaviour in place, as you would during normal times. In the midst of so much uncertainty, this will help your child to feel safer and more secure by giving them clear expectations to follow. Remember to also empathise with your child’s feelings, alongside holding boundaries around their behaviour.
  • Reassure your child that the restrictions are not a punishment. Remind them that while the situation may feel very difficult right now, these measurements are temporary and things will go back to normal.
  • Talk with your child about how they can stay safe. For example, show them what two-metre’s distance looks like and let them know when they should wash their hands. If your child is required to wear a face mask in public spaces such as shops, explain this to them and talk through any worries they have about it together.
  • Think together about how they can stay in touch with friends and family online – for example by using Zoom, Whatsapp or social media. Remember to focus on the things they can do, as well as recognising the things they can’t.