An interpretive analysis of the experiences of mothers of young children with behavioural difficulties in school

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


    Current government statistics show that the fastest growing ages for exclusion in English schools is in children between five and seven years old (DfE, 2013). This trend of young children being excluded for behaviour difficulties can have long term consequences for the children and their families, and has costs to society (Castle & Parsons, 1997). It has also been found that children with challenging behaviour can attract less sympathy than other areas of difficulty (Ofsted, 2010). There is limited research regarding parents' experiences of engaging with school staff when issues are raised about their child's behaviour, particularly when the children are being referred to external agencies. In the present study, three mothers of young children, whose child had been referred to the Educational Psychology Service for challenging behaviour, were interviewed. The method used to examine the interview data is Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as it aims to explore the experiences of the mothers from their interpretation of the situation. Although the mothers had diverse experiences of working with school staff and external professionals with regard to their child's challenging behaviour they provided evidence for five key superordinate themes, which are: development of shared understanding; the child as an individual; the role of being a parent; finding solutions; and social perceptions of behaviour. Implications for theory are discussed in order to further develop a model of working with parents which challenges some the inherent disempowerment and difficulties of managing within the compulsory education system. Implications for practice are explored to consider how school staff and professionals need to develop their communication strategies to enable parents to have access to information, to actively listen to the views of parents, and for parents to be actively involved and work collaboratively in the child's best interests. Further research to identify the relative influence of themes in the present findings would enable targeting of resources to improve the outcomes for young children with challenging behaviour in school. Keywords: Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, challenging behaviour, young children, mother's views, educational psychology
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    • Woods, Kevin, Supervisor, External person
    • Bond, Caroline, Supervisor, External person
    Award date14 Nov 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2015


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