Dealing with challenging behaviour; Chris and Pat


Dealing with challenging behaviour is an expected part of parenting; they’d be something wrong if you were never challenged.  Challenging behaviour is also one of the many parts of parenting that triggers my brain into flashing back to early teaching memories.  

I also have the familiar desire for answers (why are they doing that?!) and ideas; anything to make life easier.

Back in the year 2000 (hey, we forgot to meet up – sozpots) I was really lucky to land my first teaching job in a Mathematics department stocked with wise, talented teachers. I’m planning on a few posts about them, what their nuggets of advice were and how those nuggets still help me today.

I’m going to start with Chris and Pat because I’m so grateful for the support and advice that they gave me, nearly 20 years ago 😳. You never felt alone with Chris and Pat teaching next door; they had your back, they built you up and they wanted you to do well. And they were hilarious.

Dealing with Challenging Behaviour; their nuggets

Chris and Pat had a few gems but the one that has really stuck in my head is “never put a child down”. They also sometimes said that you needed to knock a child down before you could build them up. Confused?  I was probably for a while 🤔🤔.  But they were right on both counts.

Basically they were SO good at separating behaviour and children that they actually did both of these things at the same time.  All the time.  (It’s easier with other people’s children – you get to go home and sleep and they don’t destroy your home),

If you acted out, or ruined the flow of the lesson for others, you knew about it. You knew what you’d done wrong and why it was wrong.  Furthermore you understood the consequences and how your behaviour had affected others.

BUT you could feel the love, you could hear your strengths resonating in your ears and you wanted to be the person that they made you feel you could be. You could see the door, welcoming you to come back in (subject to clear modifications!). You wanted to be part of things again.

Their Resilience

Of course things didn’t always work out for Chris and Pat. They had moments when children couldn’t be redirected or swayed; moments when things went completely wrong.  

Chris and Pat laughed a lot; they expected these moments, so these things tended not to bother them too much. They had high expectations but knew kids were kids. Sometimes they just dug deep and stuck to the game plan, perhaps whilst drafting in help. 

But often they simply waited for another day.  Remembering their resilience helps me as much as their nuggets.


Just before I talk about these nuggets and how they slot into my life today, here is a quick bit about redirection. Chris and Pat rocked this too – they only tackled head on what needed to be head on. If they could change the path of things without even alluding to what needed to stop, then they did.

Click here for a gazillion (or around 12) ideas for dealing with challenging behaviour by redirecting your children. Redirection can be seamless and stress free; 10 minutes planning a bit of redirection can save you so much stress!

However, sometimes things go past redirection and need tackling directly, today’s nugget is about those times… So, back to the dynamic duo and their golden nugget….”Never put a child down.”

Today; dealing with challenging behaviour

When one of mine does something that quite frankly horrifies me (Who knew kids would do the stuff that they do? How are these things even possible??? Thinkable? Oh, the things I never thought I’d say….) this is the Chris and Pat wisdom I employ…..

1) Tell them what needs to stop

It sounds obvious – if you can phrase it as what needs to start all the better.  Children often ignore the stop/don’t bit and take it as an instruction!

2) Talk about the whys and the consequences.

If you can add in impact and feelings of others that can really help them understand (even if they don’t show remorse, remember that they may well be processing it behind the bravado). Humanise it’s impact on you if relevant

3) Separate them as people from the behaviour that they’ve been dabbling in.

“You’re so kind, this isn’t you…”. Whilst you don’t want it to become a regular excuse, ask them if they’re hungry, thirsty, tired or worried about something…

Tell them that they need to learn to recognise their feelings and look after themselves.  Rather than let the feelings take over. You might want to take time to play “A Head for Feelings”

4) Build them up with praise about past successes and shining moments

This carries even more clout if you can refer to instances that support the attributes you’re praising.

If there is a situation that needs to calm down, you might feel that a bit of time needs to pass before this stage, but the sooner the better. Especially for younger children – we want them to be able to leave the behaviour behind and not take it on as part of their idea of self.

5) Let them back in!

Back into whatever they should have been doing. Back into feeling loved, part of things, valued and like a decent human being that made a mistake.

And whenever you can catch them being good. Tell them what they’re doing right and suggest they must be feeling good.

Thank you!

So, thank you Chris and Pat! You have been true sanity savers for me across two decades 💙💖💚💜🧡

For more ideas on boosting self esteem and ideas of self why not pop to Little Stars , Today’s Post or This is Me.  Or for more chat about behaviour why not visit my insta’ friend Sarah’s fascinating article on hormone surges in middle childhood.


  1. Loved reading this post! So glad you met them and were able to not only learn from the but also share what you’ve learnt from them with us!! Xx

    1. Pat moved to France and I lost touch (but I’m sure they’re in touch with each other), Chris retired to a coastal spot but we still exchange Christmas cards with a little note 😁 what was your job?

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