When faced with a behavioural problems child, the first step is to identify the source. Then, work on values such as empathy and reason with the child so that he/she can decide for him/herself to undertake other behavioural alternatives.
It is not only adults who show behavioural problems. Behavioural problems children can be a challenge for coexistence, both in the classroom and at home. How do we deal with a child with behavioural problems? What approach should we take to eliminate this type of behaviour?
At Coruña British International School we bring you some strategies for working with behavioural problems children and how to deal with them.
First step: identify the source
Children are not aggressive for no reason. If we want to prevent and modify the behaviour of aggressive children, the first thing we must do is to promote a peaceful environment in all the contexts in which the child interacts. We cannot only work in the classroom, but also in their family and friends' environment. In other words, in order to tackle the problem of aggressiveness, we must consider why the child is aggressive, go to the source. It is also necessary to analyse what access they have to reference figures, such as television or social networks.
Second step: expose healthy values
Once we have analysed the aggressive child's environment, we have to limit what stimulates their aggressiveness. As a counterpart, we must expose them to models, reference figures, that encourage other types of peaceful values.
Third step: make them aware of the consequences of their actions.
One thing we can do to work with an aggressive child is to reason with them. Adapting to their age and level of maturity, it is advisable to make them understand the consequences of their actions through empathy: to make them understand that their behaviour hurts and causes separation with the people they love.
Over time, we must help the aggressive child to learn to control these emotions and begin to express them in other ways, for example, verbally. To do this, we must give them the tools to learn to do so. Thus, when faced with an aggressive child, the adult must focus on solutions, make them reflect on their behaviour so that they can look for alternative ways of behaving.
What should we avoid?
The strategy of ignoring the child does not work, although it depends on the age and circumstances. It is also not good to label the child as 'aggressive' just like that. If we label the child easily, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, so that the child is inclined to react with the kind of behaviour we are labelling him or her with.
Why does a child manifest aggressive behaviour?
There are currents that consider that aggressiveness is something instinctive and that through education we manage to transform these innate impulses into acceptable behaviours for coexistence. Therefore, children should be educated to eliminate these behaviours from a very early age.
Other currents, however, think that aggressiveness is learned, for example, if they observe certain models at home or in other places of reference. It is therefore necessary to check what culture we live in and what level of tolerance for aggressiveness we have as a society. In Western culture, for example, there is a certain level of acceptance of aggressive behaviour (e.g. in sports such as football) as opposed to other less aggressive cultures, such as Eastern cultures.
Whatever the source of their aggression, it is important that the child feels that we support them and are there for them. But, at the same time, we must be firm: the aggressive child must understand that his or her behaviour cannot be tolerated in society and must be changed.