Challenging Behavior-Anger Management Closing

Scenario three: While outside, Randy threw a ball directly at another child's head. The teacher called yelled his name out and he immediately bolted around the yard. At this point, the teacher got into a chasing game (always a loosing battle for the teachers). The teacher finally gave up and there was no follow through.

My comments: We know Randy is going to bolt. Don't call out his name. Actually, the best thing to do is pretend you didn't see it. Then, casually walk over; don't even make eye contact. When you get within range of him, quickly put out your hand and grab his hand or shoulder; whatever you need to do to make sure he stays where he is. Get down eye to eye with him and address the issue, "I saw you hit Suzy in the head with that ball. Let's go over and see if she is okay." Even if he struggles at this point, don't let go. If you need to, call Suzy over; though it's more effective if he has to go over to her. After you make sure she's okay, stay at his eye level and say, "If you want to play with Suzy all you have to do is say, 'Suzy, I have a ball, do you want to play catch?'" Many times this is really what he wanted anyway but he doesn't know how to initiate play.
If he did it because he was mad at Suzy, he needs to be your buddy for a bit until he can control his actions. So then you say, "You are not in control of your body, you need to do something with me. What are we going to do?"
If you know that he's going to bolt even if you are casually walking, get another teacher involved. Before walking over to him, walk to another teacher and tell her, "I'm going to get Randy, could you catch him when he runs this way please; I'll go from the other direction." This will sandwich him in and he will be stopped. At this point, the other teacher should hand him over to you to let him know that you are all a united front. If you see a teacher trying to get a child and you don't do anything to help, you are not being a team player and I, as a supervisor, will have a very necessary talk with you.

The most important thing to do with a child who is angry or has anger management issues is to understand where he is coming from. That will give you an idea of what is going to set him off. In the case of Randy, life has been horrible to him. He can't trust that he is ever going to stay around. Plus, he has learned that if he is bad enough, he'll get pushed away (got kicked out of two centers). So, he is going to escalate before he gets better because he needs to know that no matter what he does, you are going to let him stick around. With some consistency and meeting his needs for controlling his environment, he will get better.

The best suggestion I have ever had in teaching a child to control their anger was to put up a poster. On the poster put up pictures of things that you can do when you are mad: punch a pillow (we use the hanging mats in the classroom), blow a feather across a table (we have a basket available at all times), kick something (we have a bunch of newspaper balls available; they don't go too far and don't hurt if accidentally hit by one), yell and scream (we have a 'screaming box' taped to the ground where you can go and yell and scream all you want; one inside and one outside), scribble (this can be done in the art area). When a child is angry, any child not just the one who we are trying to help manage his anger, they are instructed to go to the poster and choose something to do.

It's important for them to know that it's okay to get angry. You have a right to your emotions. However, how you deal with your emotions is also important. You can get mad at someone, but you must calm down before dealing with it. Always make sure to follow through too. For example, if this was used in Scenario two, Randy could have been taken to the poster and chosen something to do. Let's say he decided to blow a feather across the table. When he was done, the teacher could ask, "Are you feeling less angry? If not, let's do it again or something else to calm down." Once he was calm, don't let the issue drop. Say, "Okay, now that you are calm and your anger is under control, let's talk about what made you angry." He was angry because he hadn't been chosen for a chore remember. So depending on the stage you are at with him there are a few ways to conclude:
First, "I know you want a chore, but you had one last week and will have to wait for next week."
Second, "You didn't get a chore, but if someone is absent this week you will get to sub for them."
Third, "We didn't have a chore for you, but maybe today you can be the one to..."

As with all challenging behaviors (and not challenging), you need to understand where they are coming from and help them understand as well. Understanding them will make it so much easier; and just knowing the information seems to bring on more patience in a teacher.

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