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Dear Tom ...anger issues

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by bigbev, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. bigbev

    bigbev New commenter

    Dear Tom
    I have a child in my mixed Yr3/4 class who has huge anger issues. x is desprate for adult attention and really does want to be liked but x's mood at times can be very volatile! I purchased the book 'red monster' and this story sums him up really well. Once x has 'gone' x wont listen and doesnt see x is wrong and just shouts at everyone both adults and children alike. X kicks furniture, walls, doors as they are asked to leave the room and visit the neighbouring class to cool down. If you try to reason with x during x's 'mood' you just get yelled at.
    What can I do .....half way through the year and we are still no further forward despite behavior books etc.I am just about to do a reff for mental health type support but child x's mother was due to sign reff form tonight but didnt show
    Thank you
  2. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi Bev
    X sounds like a very difficult customer, and I'm sorry to hear you've had to deal with this situation. Well done for trying so hard for so long.
    The main approach with X should be:
    a) Containment. Minimise the disruption to the rest of the class. This sounds harsh, but every single one of them deserves an education too, and they will barely get one if they hang on the hair-trigger of his temper. So do as you're doing; make sure there is a plan in place for whenever he blows up. This should usually be a safe place, away from an audience. If he goes biddably into another class, then that could be OK, but if he disrupts them too, then he needs to removed to a place more isolated, and still supervised. Senior staff, perhaps?
    That said, if he calms down in another room, then I suggest that X has complete control of his temper, and is choosing to act as he does.
    b) Behaviour modification. If he doesn't learn to amend this behaviour, his life could be one long train wreck. You don't get anywhere in the world by stamping your feet and shouting at people, and the seeds X is planting in his life right now will bear bitter fruit later on. So every time he does this, make sure he is removed from his peers, sternly and seriously, without cooing or consoling him. He needs to learn that this kind of behaviour won't be mollycoddled or supported, but will instead be scorned as inappropriate and inconsiderate, which it is. The danger with trying to be nice about it, is that he will learn that kicking off will bring attention and affection. Which is a very dangerous association.
    c) Stop trying to reason with him. This isn't a behaviour based on cool, rational consideration of outcomes and consequences; this is an emotional outburst. You don't reason with anger, you extinguish it by depriving it of oxygen. All he needs to hear is that this is 'wrong'. That's all. Reasoning with it makes it seem like a reasonable behaviour. It isn't; it's unpleasant, childish and unwelcome.
    d) Positive reinforcement. This is the kind of kid who should get plenty of encouragement when he does good things, but make sure that the only time he gets a smile and serious attention is when he's being good. When he's erupting, the only attention should be a quick burst of removal, and then none.
    If the mother doesn't want to take responsibility for this then you'll just have to. Get an ed psych referral by all means, but this might not be a medical issue. Some people, some children just have very bitter, tsunamic tempers. And they need to learn to contain themselves. And we need to teach them how to do so, before the child becomes a man and can cause more damage than simply disrupting a classroom. And even if he does get identified as having EBD, don't mistake that for an excuse for his behaviour; he still needs you to lay down boundaries of acceptable behaviour. He may not like it, but he needs it.
    Very good luck to you.
    Read more from Tom on his blog, or on his Twitter here.


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