Challenging Behavior-Anger Mangament

It is so difficult to have a child with anger management issues because many times they endanger other children. These are usually the first to go (read: get kicked out) but in reality the ones who need us the most. When I got a question about a particular child with anger I first needed to look at his background.

The reason for looking at the background is the most important in a case like this for one reason:
Children aren't just angry for no reason.
There is always a reason for this anger. So, I asked about the child's background (for confidentiality purposes let's call him Randy):
This child is currently 4 years old. He has been in foster care since he was around 6 months old and has been in 9 different foster homes and in an orphanage type center for children in extreme situations. They do their best there, but is a very heartbreaking place to be as an adult; I can only imagine for a child. This child has finally been placed into permanent foster care with a family relative (a distant cousin) and has been there for the past 6 months. This family has four other children with the range of 2 years to 10 years. Randy has also been kicked out of the past two child care places. He was enrolled at his current center through a counseling service referral; however this center was unaware of Randy's situation until after the enrollment.
On his first day, the teacher noticed that Randy was very active. She actually seems to be a very positive teacher because her attitude is basically "he's an active boy, but has some problems". When the first day was active, she knew what kind of dynamics he was going to bring to the room. He would be at school from 7:45 to 4:45 every day; so the days could be long for both the teacher and the child. After the first week, the problems began to arise with his anger and his desire to control the environment.
Randy will throw a block at a child if they mess up his building. If he is across the room and another child wants to sit down in a chair he will run across the room, shove them out of the chair, and tell them they can't sit there. With some prompting from the teacher, he will find another chair for the child to sit in, but won't allow the child to sit in the first one. This goes on even to the point of not allowing certain children to play together; even though he has no desire to play with the child at the time. Randy will throw chairs, hit, kick, yell, and anything else to make it known he was mad. He has even been known to kick and hit the teachers. He will also run when a teacher catches him doing something and will hide under anything that the teachers can't get him out of; or will run away and get into a game of chase with the teachers.
On the plus side, he truly seems to have a heart of gold. Randy can visit the toddler room and not hurt a single child. He actually seems to brighten up and will help them finish puzzles, 'read' books to them, and show them how to do things like climb the ladders. When a child is hurt or crying in the classroom he is one of the first, as long as he isn't in an episode, to go over and ask if he is okay. He can be very gentle and loving to others, especially those younger than him
The teacher can't seem to see a pattern to his behaviors and feels like she is walking on eggshells with him; never knowing if he is going to blow up or take things in stride.
I ask for a few examples as situations in which these behaviors seem to occur. I will give the scenario and then my comments:
Scenario one: Randy is typically one of the first children in the classroom. One day he was coloring quietly at the table with markers; there were three other children in the room at different activities. When the fourth child came in, one of the other children went running over to give him a hug. Randy glances up from the paper and shouts, "Stop! You can't play with him." When the teacher asked if he had wanted to play with him he said, "No, but she can't play with him." Randy made no attempt to get up from his activity or to make room for the other child to join him. He gave every appearance that he only wanted to control what everyone else in the classroom was doing or playing with, even though it had no impact on him or his activity.
My comment: Randy has had no control over his life. He has been yanked from every place he has ever been with no choice and, many times, with no warning. At home he has four other children to contend with and two foster parents who work full time and take care of five children; I'm sure there isn't much that he gets to control at home. With this understanding, maybe Randy can be given something to have control over in the classroom. If drop off is a time where he seems to get jealous of others greeting each other, maybe he can be in charge of greeting each child and marking off who has come in on a chart or board.
Another way to give him control in the room is to make him responsible for a specific area. The library is always a great place for this. He can help decide which books to put out every week, he gets to make sure it is cleaned up with the books displayed correctly everyday, and he can even decide what posters and pictures to put up in this area. As he grows, you can help influence his decision of books to choose by suggesting "You know Johnny's going camping next week, would you like to put this camping book in the library for him?" This would not only give him a sense of control, but it would also help him see other children in the class and their interests as well.
If he seems to start taking too much control of the area (ie, you can't go in this area, it's mine) he will need to be encouraged to change this behavior; but done gently, he probably would be more eager to share this space rather than to keep kids out.
Tomorrow we will look at scenario two and in two days we will look at scenario three and some anger management techniques.

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