Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dealing with Difficult Behaviors, Especially ANGER

Over at Fun in First, Jodi wrote a post about Dealing with the Difficult Child. As a teacher and mom of five kids, I've certainly dealt with my share. Over the past few years, I've sometimes worked as a respite care provider for kids with significant behavioral issues. Whether you're dealing with a difficult child in the classroom or at home, here are a few ideas...

  1. Working with a kid that quickly goes from 0-60 on the anger scale? Maybe he shuts down entirely? Chances are, the child's brain has shifted from the cortex (the front, thinking part of the brain) to the lower brain, sometimes dubbed the "reptilian brain," and entered into fight, flight, or freeze mode. Unfortunately, you can't really reason with someone in this mode. It's akin to reasoning with a lizard. So you need to do whatever it takes to get the child out of the lower brain. Usually, that means using few words. Instead, try...
  2. Jumping. If you've got a mini-trampoline, all the better. You won't be the first one to have one in your home or classroom for that purpose! If the child is able to repeat a positive phrase while jumping, great! Something like "I make wise choices," can help. As I understand it, the joint compression involved with jumping can produce seratonin or "happy hormone." Pushing hard against a wall (I tell kids to try to push the wall down!) can have the same effect.
  3. "Steel and spaghetti." I learned this technique from an incredible child psychologist. (Same with #2, actually!) Have the child tense every bit of his body as tight as he can (steel) for several seconds and then completely relax every part of his body, bending forward so that his fingers are dropping toward the ground (spaghetti.)
  4. Try doing the Brain Gym PACE sequence.When I took Brain Gym training, we were told to use this with students to prepare for new learning. So it's good for many reasons! 

Are you interested in learning more about dealing with difficult behaviors? If so, let me know so I can post more. It's a topic that greatly interests me.


  1. These are great suggestions. Thanks for sharing them.

  2. I love these ideas! We have used trampolines in the past with some students. We also have a sensory room at our school where students can go to cool off and use "sensory" type items that will help to calm them. Thanks so much for linking up.


  3. I'm interested! How about with adolescents too? Thanks for this post!

  4. Fantastic suggestions... I love steel and spaghetti! I did something similar in my class, calling it freeze and wiggle. Very effective for some kids. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  5. I would recomend the book "How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger" by Elizabeth Verdick and Marjorie Lisovskis, they recomend both those and many more. I have a son who is ADHD and bipolor and it has helped him more than any "treatment".

  6. Very interesting - I should try this on myself too!

  7. LOVE this. And not for my neuro-interesting child either! I wish someone would have shared these techniques with me ages ago for my first born...who trying to talk down becomes exactly what you described when he's angry. A lizard.

    I'll have to put that mini trampoline to use!


  8. Thanks for the suggestions. I am definitely interested in more! I've got some tough kiddos this year!

  9. LOVE Steel and Spaghetti! We put a new twist on deep breathing a few years back - it's called Square Breathing. Have the students draw a square with their pointer finger as they breathe. First leg is a deep breath in through their nose, second leg is draw across the top as they hold the breath. Third leg is a deep breath out through their mouth. As they close the square, fourth leg finds them holding their breath again. Three to five of these and the angries disappear long enough to find a solution to what brought them on in the first place.

    The Corner On Character

  10. Please post more ideas.


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