The causes and alleviation of EBD in Primary aged children : school, parenting and cognitive style
This thesis considers the behaviour of 5 groups of primary aged children in the context of school, parenting and cognitive style. Study 1 began with a survey across the author's Local Education Authority to ascertain how schools work in partnership with parents whose children exhibit challenging behaviour in school. It also explored perceived difficulties and ways to alleviate these. The replies indicated that the schools attributed pupil difficulties to the resistance of parents in the collaborative process and a mismatch between home and school expectations. Suggestions for improvement recognised the duty of schools to build good relationships, enhance communication and educate parents. Following the survey the case details of 13 pupils who were experiencing behaviour problems were studied and from these a booklet for parents (Better Behaviour) was developed alongside a guide for professionals in supporting them. The booklet was evaluated with 25 parents over 3 months, during which time they received support and guidance in parenting skills. The parents reported personal benefits from this support, which resulted in improved behaviour in 24 of the children. Study 2 describes a matched group design of 180 pupils from 4 schools. Their behaviour was rated by teachers across 6 aspects. The parents of 1 group were sent a copy of the booklet and encouraged to follow its guidance via a series ofletters from the school. After 2 months the pupils' behaviour was re-rated. The most striking outcome was the major influence of school in both the main and interaction effects. The variability of results highlights the multiplicity of factors, which determine behavioural change. The implications of these findings for the methodology are discussed. Study 3 comprised 109, 9-11 year old pupils from 1 primary school. The teachers rated their classroom behaviour and home background across a 5 point scale. The position of the pupils on the Wholist-Analytic Cognitive Style Dimension was assessed by means of the Cognitive Styles Analysis. There was a significant effect of Wholist-Analytic style on behaviour, with Wholists having the most challenging behaviour. There was also a significant interaction between gender and home background, with females being better than males. This was most pronounced when the home background was rated as poor. Study 4 describes 5 case studies and the relationship between cognitive style, behavioural characteristics and parenting methods. The mothers of 5, year 5-6 boys whose behaviour was beyond their control were supported in their use of the booklet over a 3 months period. Types of behaviour were found to vary with style. All of the boys' behaviour improved in response to changes in parenting strategies. The results of all 4 studies were considered to have implications for the causes and management of challenging behaviour with respect to teaching, parenting and school partnership with parents.