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Runner in kindergarten? 

2015

Hi,

I am working with a student in SK who has recently reverted back to his behaviours from Sept-Oct. His main goals are to keep his feet on the ground (since he loves to climb on tables) and walk in the halls with me. When asked what changes were made at school, that might be the cause of running, I have only recently added a fun easy 1,2,3 work bin that he does to get ipad time which he doesn't have an issue with or ''run'' from in fact he likes to go over to the table and do them. I have tried redirecting (let's go this way to see the toys, its time for gym lets run there), planned ignoring (he does look at me with a huge smile but even if I pretend I don't see it he leaves the class running), positive reinforcement (you are doing a great job walking with me - your mom will be happy to hear, awesome job walking - lets go to the gym) and recently consequence (if you run we lose ipad today let's walk so we can have ipad).

I have even turned to the dreaded edible tangibles as suggested but at the end of the day after he earned he ran out the door. I know he thinks it is a game, I know he knows I will eventually come after him but he is not safe in the halls alone especially if he goes to the stairwell since he has indicated an interest in sliding down the railing) He has ADHD and is verbal with mid-high ASD. He has no sense of danger either and will stand on a railing if given the chance.

I am making a run in the gym walk in the halls social story but I know he doesn't care for these and doesn't internalize the message being told.

Stickers, tokens and checkmarks don't work either.

I wouldn't trust him holding an ipad while he walked since he has dropped one once for the chance to run. He has also run outside the classroom to the kindergarten fenced play area (with two gates on either end).

I hope to hear some ideas out there... I'm not built physically for runners.

BTW we do have a run code, I can have a walkie talkie but we are just around the corner from the stairs so no one will get to him in time but me.

Angela Spano
...

We have a 4 year old foster child with ADD. he does not understand safety/danger issues. In the house we put stop signs on all the things that weren't safe (stove, stairwell, exterior doors) so that he knows not to touch them. Perhaps you can put up stop signs at school.

At school and in the community he doesn’t go anywhere without holding an adult's hand. Because he is a runner, the classroom doors are closed as soon as he gets to class. He doesn’t have the dexterity yet to open a door knob. Perhaps you could find one of those child resistant door knob covers that fits onto the door knob.

Our boys CAS worker has approved the use of a child harness. I know there will be a cost incurred for your student but if you put it to the school board and parents that the cost is minimal compared to the cost of a potentially severely injured child, hopefully they will be on board as well. www.childharness.ca/2 strap.html

Mike Clark
...

Hi,

There might be sensory issues that need to be addressed. An OT might be helpful for this. You can also look for the book Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration. There is a checklist in this book that would pinpoint which activities would better answer sensory needs.

Structure, routines and transitions all need to be evaluated to make sure he knows what the expectations are and you are doing the right thing. I would suggest someone else come and observe you to find out what the difficulties are. Having an outside perspective on the situation may help you see what the triggers are and how you respond to them. Sometimes we are so close to the problem that we don't see or notice what is really problematic. I'm not suggesting that you are doing something wrong; I believe that it's with proper feedback that we improve ourselves.

Good luck!
Eric Douville
...

Hey Angela,

Has anyone asked him why he runs; what’s so interesting about running to him? Could there maybe be some allotted time throughout the day where he is allowed to run?

Cheers,
Kelly
...

Can you reframe any of the concerning behavior and find ways to make way for the lad to engage in the behaviors which he is power struggling to do? Can he swing on swings or balance on balance beams? Jump rope? Maybe you can teach him when it is ok to have your feet on the ground and when it is ok to have your feet not on the ground? Maybe he is a natural climber and needs to climb things? Are there things to climb?

Running from class... perhaps positive rewards for remaining in class for all kids who do so. Immediate rewards. Like computer time before transitions, some one-on-one reading time. Playing a game. Some positive touch. Dancing to music?

How can you reframe the running and risk taking into self-soothing and regulative behaviors?

Sounds like the lad is power struggling. How do you avoid the power struggle and reward his successful completion of work in class with a run around the school? Often we adults think that when kids are pushing our limits they are in danger of harm, when they aren't. or the rules and expectations of our systems say a kid is in danger when they are outside our traditional expectations of students. Can you check these out and look for alternatives? Are their peers who can run with him? Can you start a running group? Jump rope group? If he has ADHD, he wants to be physical... reclaim that with him as a soothing skill. Maybe there is another staff who can run with him and show up regularly when the lad needs to run? Maybe you can work on waiting for that person and rewarding the waiting? Maybe someone has a dog they can bring to school and the lad can take the dog for a walk? I had a colleague once who would put his dog collar on around his neck and have kids walk him...

Sounds like you are burned out on this kid.... time to rethink the problem and try something wacky.

Good luck.

Peter D.
...

Hi Angela,

This sounds like a very challenging situation. I hear your concern for the student and your concern about wanting to make certain that he is safe and complying with the school policy about running. While it is difficult to help from afar, as context is missing, I will share some questions that I would be asking myself, in case this helps.

My starting place when I face challenging behavior is to ask myself two key questions: 1) what is my relationship with this child (do we have an authentic connection, do I like this child?) and, 2) what needs are being met by the child's behavior? The relationship question is key to me because I have learned that children have incredible radar in sensing whether I am truly on 'their side' or not. If I am not, I know I need to spend more time trying to meet the child where she/he is at and learn more about him/her to help our relationship to grow.

I hear a few of the child's needs that you have already identified: attention and physical activity. However, what else is underlying these needs? I am sure you have thought of these associated questions but will add them: How is the child's relationship with his peers? Is he accepted? Liked? How do they react to his 'running?' I would want to know more about his family and school contexts to see if there have been any shifts in his life since the behavior changed in October. I would want to involve the parents (if possible) to have them help me to learn more about the child and find out what works for them at home. I would also want to look at whether he is actually getting enough exercise during class time because he may need it integrated more holistically into his day (e.g. frequent short runs around the school grounds). Is there a way to see his physical abilities as also a great strength that you can channel in other ways?

Just some food for thought. Wishing you the best of luck,

Kim Ainsworth
...

Hi Angela,
This is a tough one. Your concern for the child's safety is understandable.

I have been reading through all the very helpful responses to your dilemma and agree with most of the suggestions and thoughts; however, I was wondering whether you have considered that this is a little kindergarten child who may simply be somewhat immature developmentally and seeks attention or to "play" by running away. You do eventually run after him (as you should considering the safety issues), and when you do, this reinforces the behavior. It is not that unusual for immature children at this age to do this type of thing, and I would suggest that you try to communicate with his parents and try to find out more about the context of his running, re: does he do this when he is outside of school with other adults? It is very important to find out whether other adults like mom and dad are reinforcing this behaviour. Once you have established whether this behaviour happens elsewhere as well (or has historically - very important questions to ask), you could perhaps work on a plan together with the parents and other adults to curb this behaviour. In my experience, running after children often "widens the gap" and creates a game of tag, but, I understand how difficult it must be for your because you are responsible for this little kid and he is still very young; posing a lot of safety issues.

Creating a really strong connection with this little one will be imperative to resolving this issue. Once you feel that the bond has developed sufficiently for this little one to feel that he wants to please you, and if safety issues allow, you could perhaps try NOT to pursue him. For instance, when you are on a closed off play area or any other closed off space where there are no safety issues like gates he can open or fences he can climb, try to do some planned ignoring; instead of trying to "close the gap," purposefully widen it, and wait to see whether he will come to you. It is important to do the planned ignoring very purposefully and make sure that he is aware that you are not even looking at him. When he does come to you, don't praise him for coming back, in fact, don't even mention it, just smile and say something like "want to play...." (have something really enjoyable that he likes to do planned). Make him want to come to you instead of the other way around....this is tricky to do considering his age and safety issues and takes time to develop, but well worth it in the end if it is possible. This has worked very effectively in my experience but the desire that the child has to be with the adult is the key to this concept and it is more difficult to do with very young children.

Good Luck,
All the best,
Delphine Amer
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