Strategies for Emotional Behavior Issues
Emotional behavioral disorders are a diverse group of conditions in which a child chronically performs highly inappropriate behaviors, such as acting out disruptively or aggressively. Some children with behavioral disorders might seem emotionally disturbed, anxious, withdrawn, or disconnected from everyday reality. Emotional behavior disorders disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Over time, these issues can have negative impacts on the child’s school, home, and social life, but there are strategies that teachers and parents can use to support children with emotional disturbance.
Teaching students with emotional and behavioral disorders calls for a positive, structured environment that supports growth, fosters self-esteem, and rewards desirable behavior. Here are a few ways parents and teachers can help.
Provide opportunities to make choices
This gives the child some agency and responsibility, allowing them a sense of control over the outcome. If necessary, help make them aware of the pros and cons of their choice, so they will understand the consequences of the options they choose.
Adjust task difficulty
Prevent anxiety and frustration by adjusting the difficulty of a task or problem to suit the child’s capabilities. Sometimes it helps to develop specific, personal objectives together with the child and then break down the objective into smaller tasks. Allow the child to move at their own pace through the task.
Life Space Interview technique
With training in this proactive intervention technique, adults can use specific interview questions in the early stages of a crisis to stop the escalation of an emotional behavior disturbance. Developed by Fritz Redl, “this model capitalizes on crisis as an opportunity to teach life lessons to individuals and help them understand and regulate their own emotions and behavior.”
Steps of the Life Space Interview:
- Isolate the conversation.
- Explore the child’s point of view.
- Summarize the feeling and content.
- Connect behavior to feelings.
- Discuss alternative behaviors.
- Develop a plan to practice new behavior.
- Enter the child back into the routine.
Reward positive behavior
Pay attention for any signs of positive behavior and reward it lavishly. This not only supports the child’s self-esteem, but it helps to keep the child motivated to continue the positive behavior.
Children who struggle with behavioral disturbance need emotional and behavioral support in order to master academics, develop their social skills, and increase self-awareness and self-control. Giving students the support they need can allow them to experience the self-pride that comes from conducting positive actions.
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Since 1980, RKS Associates has been a leader in providing the needs of special education students and helping children grow to their fullest potential. Each of our schools seeks to empower each student with skills for life, work, and recreation; we believe that every individual possesses the dignity and potential to contribute to a better world.
As part of the RKS Associates Network of schools in New Jersey, the goal at the Gateway School is to assist all students in becoming as independent as possible and help them get ready for the future. Located in Carteret, NJ, we serve individuals throughout Central and Northern New Jersey. Contact us at our main office at 732.541.4400 with any questions or schedule a private tour of the Gateway School today.
Chris Hoye, Principal-The Gateway School of Carteret, NJ