l. Do not become emotionally disturbed yourself.
~Emotionally disturbed children are often experts at finding your most vulnerable point.
~Try not to become involved in personal, "my ego is on the line", power struggles.
~Remember that your loss of control over your own emotions may signal to the child that no one is now in control, and that consequently this environment is no longer safe.
~Extreme calmness in the face of extreme emotional disturbance often produces amazing results.
2. Be clear and explicit regarding your behavioral expectations.
~Never assume that the emotionally disturbed child knows what you, as the adult, expect.
~Try to be as concrete and specific as possible when giving directions or instructions.
~Keep your behavioral expectations in tune with the child's ability.
~When disciplining a child be certain to state explicitly exactly what you expect from the child.
3. Keep instructions brief and be very concrete.
~Do not give the child a long, verbal list of instructions and then expect results.
~Concrete on helping the child to master a specific task before moving on to another task.
~Always be clear, specific, and concrete when giving instructions.
~Determine by experience in what mode the child learn best (e.g., visual, auditory, tactile) and use that mode in giving instructions.
~Immediately, whenever possible, reward with praise and recognition the successful following through of instructions.
4. Be consistent over time in regard to consequences for specific behaviors
~Many emotionally disturbed children have never lived in a consistent nurturing environment.
~Be clear and specific regarding the rules, and consequences for breaking the rules, in your home or area of responsibility.
~Once established and understood, try not to change the rules of your setting.
~If rules must be added or consequences changed, be sure to allow plenty of time for these changes to be understood by the emotionally disturbed child.
~Do not allow your energy level, or other mitigating circumstances, to influence consistent consequences for specific behaviors.
5. Never promise something unless you can definitely deliver.
~Do not threaten emotionally disturbed children with physical abuse or bodily harm since both are illegal and always counter-productive to treatment.
~Try not to bribe the children, or child, with promises of sweets or other sought after "goodies.”
~Remember that children almost always, no matter how disturbed, remember promises.
~Failing to deliver on a promise can create a sense of mistrust, which can destroy a good, working relationship.
6. Stop minor incidents before they become major disturbances.
~Many serious behavioral disturbances can be avoided by stopping the child in the initial stages of the disturbance.
~Always be alert to noise level, facial expressions, and other forms of body language that can signal the beginning of a major disturbance.
~Explicitly point out to the child or children the usual behavioral course which follows such instigative behavior as teasing or mild horse-play.
~Try to direct the child's energy and attention away from the disturbing situation and toward more positive channels.
7. Be aware of physical and emotional clues that signal a child is about to "blow up"
~Most emotionally disturbed children clearly signal their intentions well in advance of a major disturbance.
~Train yourself to recognize the signs of an impending emotional disaster.
~Determine, through personal observation, which form of intervention is most effective in heading off these emotional outbursts.
~Once a crisis has developed, be alert to personal clues that signal that a child is once again in control of himself or herself.
8. Always verbally explain decisions and consequences
~Much of the unexplainable, irrational behavior on the part of emotionally disturbed children can be traced to unexplainable, irrational behavior on the part of the significant adults in the child's life.
~Never assume that the emotionally disturbed child understands the reasons for your decisions and/or consequences.
~If you cannot verbally explain you decision to the child perhaps you have made the wrong decision.
~Be certain that the child fully understands your verbal explanation.
9. Continually reinforce positive behaviors with verbal praise and encouragement
~You can never give an emotionally disturbed child enough praise and encouragement for good behavior.
~If a child seems to be having a great deal of difficulty with a particular task, try breaking the larger task down into smaller tasks and then verbally praise the successful completion of each of these smaller tasks.
~Remember that most emotionally disturbed children are not accustomed to being praised and so at first they may act either indifferent or even hostile to praise.
10. Talk through problems in your own life and encourage the child to do the same
~Emotionally disturbed children frequently have a great deal of difficulty expressing their problems verbally and will often resort to acting inappropriately to express these problems.
~Important adults in the child's life can serve as valuable role models by talking through their own problems.
~Encourage the child to talk with you about their problems when you notice that the child is visibly upset or is about to act out.
~Children will only learn to talk through their problems if important adults are consistently willing to listen to them.
11.Always follow through with all previously stated consequences following the child's behavior
~Before stating consequences for a particular behavior be absolutely certain that you have all of the necessary resources to implement the consequences (e.g., time, energy, space).
~Once you have started implementing consequences for behavior, do not allow the child's "good behavior" during the implementation of these consequences to deter you from completion of the consequences.
~Failing to implement the full consequence for a behavior teaches the emotionally disturbed child that you are inconsistent and that all of the rules are subjected to change.
~Negotiations with the child regarding consequences for behavior must take place before the inappropriate behavior is observed and before the consequences are set.
12.Do not get emotionally disturbed children excited by playing with them and then expect then to "cool it" when you tire of play.
~Emotionally disturbed children, like all other children, need a healthy and constructive outlet for their energy, and need time to play physically with adults.
~Problems can arise when you, as the adult, tire of physicals play and the emotionally disturbed child is just beginning to "wind up."
~Try to end physical play with emotionally disturbed children by gradually decreasing the strenuousness of the activity and by diverting their energy into other, less physical, projects.
13.Try not to become involved in a personal "power struggle" with the child
~Emotionally disturbed children frequently prove mastery over their confusing world by drawing adults down to their level through unnecessary "power struggles."
~Most power struggles can be avoided by having clear clues, firm limits, and explicit expectations.
~Do not expect emotionally disturbed children, particularly older adolescents, to "jump" at your command.
~When you sense that you are being drawn into a power struggle, step back for a minute, examine the real issue, and then decide what is to be gained or lost by continuing with the power struggle.
14.Remember that emotionally disturbed children frequently relate more to the one than to the actual content of you statement.
~Emotionally disturbed children are often more concerned with the emotions behind your speech than with the actual words.
~Always be honest with these children in regard to you own feelings, as they can usually sense your true feelings anyway.
~If you are not genuinely excited or genuinely angry about a child's behavior, do not fake these emotions.
~Remember that you are attempting to teach the emotionally disturbed child that it is a sign of good health to be able to express appropriate emotions.
15. Always be consistent in applying the rules.
~Perhaps the most important task in rehabilitating an emotionally disturbed child is to provide a consistent environment.
~The emotionally disturbed child must learn that a particular behavior, whether it be appropriate or inappropriate, will result in the same consequences, regardless of the time or place that the behavior is exhibited.
~If you cannot apply consistent consequences for breaking a rule, it is better to have no rule at all.
16. Do not expect the child to follow rules that you yourself commonly break
~Emotionally disturbed children, like all other children, learn more by example than by spoken or written instruction.
~If you yourself are a heavy smoker, do not expect that your verbal warnings will prevent the child from smoking.
~Expecting the child to conform the rules that you yourself commonly break is teaching the child that you are a hypocrite and unworthy of respect.
17. Always explicitly separate your feelings about a child's behavior from your feelings about the child.
~Emotionally disturbed children have frequently been conditioned by significant adults in their lives to view themselves as little more than a set of inappropriate behaviors.
~To reverse the damage caused by years of blurring the line between self and behaviors, it is important to let the emotionally disturbed child know that you hold him or her in high regard while still being concerned about certain problematic behaviors.
~Emphasize explicitly to the emotionally disturbed child that you are angry about a particular bit of behavior and not about the child himself/herself.
~Stressing concern with problem behaviors and not with the child's personal self helps the child to realize that change is possible.
18. Keep consequences fair, sequential, time limited and related to the behavior.
~To be fair, consequences for a particular behavior should be the same for everyone and should be in direct proportion to the actual inappropriate behavior.
~Consequences should be sequential in that small examples of inappropriate behavior should have lesser consequences than larger examples of inappropriate behavior.
~Setting clear and reasonable time-limits for consequences gives the emotionally disturbed child a better chance to fulfill the consequences and "get past" the inappropriate behavior.
~Whenever possible consequences for a particular inappropriate behavior should be directly related to the inappropriate behavior (e.g. setting early bedtime due to late rising).
19.Be certain that a child fully understands your instructions,
expectations or consequences by seeking some clear and explicit sign that the entire message is understood.
~Never assume that the emotionally disturbed child understands what, to you, may have been a very clear message.
~Always insist that the emotionally disturbed child demonstrate
understanding of the message by asking appropriate questions, repeating part of the message, or in some other suitable way indicating that the message has been received.
~If your instructions, expectations, or consequences are long, break them down into smaller parts and seek some sign of understanding after each section (do not confuse understanding with agreement).
20. Always holds children accountable for their behavior
~Emotionally disturbed children are frequently masters of the act of assigning responsibility for their own actions to other people, places, and things.
~Insist from the very beginning of your relationship that the emotionally disturbed child take responsibility for his or her own behavior.
~Do not permit the child to use his or her past history to account for their present actions.
~Do not lower your expectations for personal accountability because the child has been labeled "emotionally disturbed.”
GOLDEN RULE OF PARENTING:
"DO UNTO OTHERS (INCLUDING CHILDREN), AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.”
THIS RULE IMPLIES MUTUAL RESPECT FOR EVERY FAMILY MEMBER, RESPECTING CHILDREN TEACHES THE CHILD TO RESPECT HIMSELF/HERSELF AND TO RESPECT OTHERS. EACH CHILD WANTS A SPECIAL PLACE IN THE FAMILY. EVERYONE, INCLUDING CHILDREN„ WANT AND NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL OR GOOD AT SOMETHING. THIS SUCCESS CAN THEN HELP THE PERSON TO HAVE RECOGNITION IN THE FAMILY. ALL BEHAVIOR IS GOAL DIRECTED AND PURPOSEFUL. THE GOAL OF A MISBEHAVING CHILD IS USUALLY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
TO GET ATTENTION
TO HAVE POWER
TO GET REVENGE
OR IS A DISPLAY OF INADEQUACY.
NATURAL AND LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES ARE USEFUL WAYS TO CHANGE BEHAVIOR BY USING NATURAL AND LOGICAL RESULTS TO A CHILD' S BEHAVIOR. A PARENT CAN TEACH SELF-DISCIPLINE AND RESPONSIBILITY. FOR EXAMPLE, THE NATURAL CONSEQUENCE FOR NOT WEARING GLOVES IN THE WINTER IS THE CHILD WILL HAVE COLD HANDS. LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES ARE ARRANGED BY PARENTS. FOR EXAMPLE, WHEN A CHILD COMES HOME LATE FOR DINNER WITH NO EXPLAINED REASON WHY, THE PARENTS CAN EXPLAIN THAT SINCE THE CHILD WAS NOT PRESENT AT THE REGULAR DINNER HOUR, IT WAS ASSUMED THE CHILD DID NOT WANT TO EAT DINNER (FOOD SHOULD NEVER BE USED AS A CONSEQUENCE—(if dinner is put away peanut butter sandwich or soup may be an appropriate choice).
IN SITUATIONS OF REAL DANGER, IT IS IMPORTANT FOR PARENTS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM THE RESULTS OF HIS/HER ACTIONS. REGULAR WEEKLY FAMILY MEETINGS PROVIDE FAMILIES WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO TALK ABOUT PROBLEMS, GOALS AND ACTIVITIES.
WHEN PARENTS AND CHILDREN ARE HAVING A HARD TIME TALKING ABOUT THEMSELVES, IT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO BEGIN OPENING UP.
Some suggestions might be:
What are you feeling right now?
Tell me about it.
Sounds like you got troubles.
Seems pretty important to you.
I’d like to hear about it.
EFFECTIVE WAYS TO STOP COMMUNICATION
1. Give orders
3. Preach ("when I was your age... )
4. Give advice ("what you should do is")
6. Criticize, blame
8. Diagnose (especially if using jargon)
9. Belittle the feeling ("it's not that bad... ")
Belittle the person ("you always overreact")
10. Presume ("I know just how you feel. ")
13. Question to collect unimportant information.
14. Challenge (ask WHY?).
15. Move conversation to your interest and ideas.