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    Understanding Challenging Behaviors

    Renelle Nelson, M.A.EBD Project Coordinator

    Parent Advocate

    Page 2

    In this workshop, we will learn about

    Understanding Behavior Behaviors that may reflect mental

    health needs Alternatives to punishment Effective interventions at school Sustaining appropriate behaviors

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    Basic Assumptions

    Behavior has meaning Behavior is an attempt to communicate

    We need to understanding the meaningof behavior in order to respond effectively

    Relationships are key for managing a childs behavior

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    Basic Assumptions

    How someone views behavior also determines what the person wants to do about it

    Different ideas about what causes behavior problems may lead to different kinds of interventions

    Personal experience and training impact ideas about how to manage or change behavior

    Basic AssumptionsNot everything is what it seems

    We cannot assume that the function of the behavior is what we are seeing.

    Challenging BehaviorChildren do well if they can. If they cant, we need to figure out why, so we can help them.

    Ross Greene, The Explosive Child

    Every challenging behavior can be thought of as a childs solution to a problem and a form of communication.

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    Traditional model of changing behavior:Punishment

    Short term solution Makes children angry, resentful, and defiant Can lead to more aggressive behavior Teaches children that its acceptable to use power to control people Frightens, embarrasses and humiliates children Damages self-esteem and self-concept Doesnt teach appropriate behavior Undermines the relationship between child and adult

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    A new model for changing behavior:Guidance and Instruction

    Long-term solution Builds self-esteem Adult shares power Teaches appropriate

    behavior Separates child from

    the behavior

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    Changing Challenging Behavior

    Instead of using it as an opportunity to punish, view it as an opportunity to teach a child a skill that they will need for the rest of their life

    Focus on what childrendo right, rather than on what they do wrong

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    Page 10

    Facts about BehaviorBrain Development

    Brain operates on a use it or lose it principle

    Only those connections and pathways that are activated frequently are retained

    We continue to do what works for us- despite the consequence

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    Facts About BehaviorCommunication

    All behavior is a form of communication

    There is always a reason for the challenging behavior What is the child trying to tell us by

    this behavior? Adults can learn to understand and

    interpret the behavior

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    Changing Challenging Behaviors

    Changing behavior does not mean changing the child; it means creating a new environment that supports the behavior you want to achieve Includes the child, the parents and other siblings The child, the teacher, and others children in the

    classroom Both

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    Changing Challenging Behaviors

    When confronted with a challenging behavior, we tend to conclude that the child either cant or wont

    If we assume wont, the strategy of choice is to punish

    Until proven otherwise, assume cant and develop strategies using skill-building interventions

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    Changing Challenging Behaviors

    Any behavior that persists is working for the child.

    Acknowledge the power of the behavior

    Teach the child a socially acceptable way to get needs met

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    Changing Challenging Behaviors

    Kids do well if they can Think of behavior as a lack of skills Is the child having difficulty in :

    Executive skills Language skills Black and white thinking Social skills Mental health needs

    The explanation guides the intervention

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    What Skills are Needed to Manage Behavior?

    Ability to control impulses/behavior Ability to understand others and express oneself Ability to problem solve Social skills and the ability to take anothers

    perspective Ability to identify and appropriately express

    emotion Ability to regulate emotions

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    When is a Behavior Challenging?

    May depend on the adults expectations for behavior

    Need to be aware of appropriate developmental expectations- and the range of normal

    We all have different tolerance levels for different behaviors temperament and fit (adults need for self-awareness)

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    Developmentally appropriate

    Clear and Consistent

    Appropriate for the childstemperament

    Expectations that Encourage Appropriate Behavior

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    Remember..

    We must first know what need the behavior is meeting

    We must ask why is the behavior happening

    We must be aware of an identified diagnosis We should consider if it is a manifestation of

    a mental health need

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    Behaviors that may reflect mental health needs

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderTrouble taking turns in games or activitiesFidgety and difficulty staying seatedInterrupts othersDifficulty listeningTrouble finishing work or staying on taskAccident-proneClumsy or reckless

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    Behaviors that may reflect mental health needs

    DepressionExcessive tardinessSleeping in classRefusal to participateFailing gradesIsolating, quietNot turning in homeworkFrequent absencesChanges in eating and sleeping habits

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    Behaviors that may reflect mental health needs

    Bipolar DisorderRapidly changing moods Active much of the night, insomniaEasily angered, uncontrollable temper tantrumsAnnoys othersHyperactivity, agitation and distractibilityEngages in risky behaviorDepression, delusions

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    Behaviors that may reflect a mental health need

    AnxietyDifficulty with getting along with peers (awkward)Avoids new experiencesQuick to angerNegative comments about selfReluctant to participateGives up easilyAppears unmotivatedEasily frustrated/shuts down

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    Behaviors that may reflect a mental health need

    Obsessive-Compulsive DisorderFalling grades Repeated erasingSchool avoidance Unproductive tracingAnxiety or depressed moodFrequent trips to the bathroomPoor concentrationCommon obsessions: contamination, orderliness,doubt, loss, sex, religionCommon compulsions: hoarding, cleaning, touching

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    Behaviors that may reflect a mental health need

    Oppositional Defiant DisorderEasily looses temperArgues with adults (peers) over most everythingRefuses to follow rules or requests, noncomplianceDeliberately annoys othersAlways seems resentful and angry, verbally abusiveBlames others for his behaviorConstantly tests limits, skips schoolLies, steals, destroys property

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    Behaviors that may reflect a mental health need

    Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/EffectsEarly childhood: Adolescent:poor sleeping/eating habits poor social skillsrage poor judgmentlack of stranger anxiety isolated, depressed

    Elementary: doesnt learn from blames others for problems mistakesimpulsive and easily enraged nave, a followerhigh need for stimulation

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    Behaviors that may reflect a mental health need

    PDD and Autism Spectrum DisordersAvoids eye contactSelf injurySensitive or over reactive to touchRepeats same phrases over and overRepetitive nonproductive movementTouches everythingExtreme resistance to interruption of movements

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    Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderDifficulty concentratingEasily startledDepression and overwhelmingly sad or hopelessHeadaches, stomachaches, dizziness IrritabilityAnger and hostility

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    Behaviors that may reflect a mental health need

    Behaviors that may reflect a mental health need

    Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)Stealing, lyingPoor eye contactDestructive to self and othersBlaming others for his behaviorLack of impulse controlToileting issuesBossy and controllingClingy and inappropriately demanding

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    Strategies that may help

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderAt School:

    Get a Functional Behavioral AssessmentProvide a consistent structureAllow student movement, fidgetsCreate a secret signal to help child refocusAllow child options to testing (place,time,writing in test booklet)

    At Home:Make a list of expectations (behaviors, chores, etc)Reward positive behavior ( 5 positives to 1 negative)

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    Strategies that may help

    DepressionAt school:

    Reduce stress by reducing classroom pressure (break assignments into smaller sections, extend timelines)Remind students regularly of their accomplishmentsOffer help in catching up, especially after a prolonged absence

    At Home:Plan activities to keep your child in the mixSet up a schedule for them to follow that includes contributions to the family (setting the table, cooking a meal, grocery shopping, etc)Page

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    Strategies that may help

    Bipolar DisorderAt school:

    Track energy level of student and accommodate assignments accordinglyAllow a go-to place for the student for privacy and to gain self-controlFind alternative support when energy level is low (peer note taker, book on tape, etc)

    At home:Provide a consistent schedule for expectations but be flexible when energy level is lowReinforce accomplishments consistently and oftenPage 32acc

    Strategies that may help

    AnxietyAt school:

    Set up schedule and expectations for assignments so student knows what to expectHave flexible deadlines if student is strugglingReduce h

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