Behaviour management by any other name

I've spent the day delivering a course on managing challenging behaviour in out of school clubs and was struck by the similarities to managing the situation I have at home.  This is in no way meant to trivialise what's happening to us or to say that I think of Ash as a child but instead has emphasised to me that we all need to be treated as individuals in order for us to shine.  There is no 'one size fits all' and we need to work out what each child/adult is in need of before we do anything else.  So what did we discuss?  We talked about observing children to see why they behave the way they do.  Is the child sitting quietly in the corner frightened of being more involved or just a quiet child?  Is the child who lashes out frightened or frustrated?  If so what causes the fear and frustration and can we reduce that cause?  Does the sight of a child raising his/her voice to another mean that we should step in immediately or should we wait and see if the situation resolves itself?  If it does resolve itself what can we learn from the incident?  We talked about how body language affects the way we deal with a situation and decided that smiling before walking towards the children would help to diffuse a situation.  We considered the importance of pro-active strategies ie working out what a child needs in order to avoid a difficult situation in the first place.  We also discussed a scenario involving the behaviour of a child with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder) and whether the ADHD was relevant to how we would address the behaviour.  The answer?  That it was more important to focus on the needs of the child first.  The condition was secondary.  The final thing we discussed was the importance of consistency.  Without it everyone is left in a circle of confusion which just exacerbates each difficult situation.

I've delivered this course before but not for a while and not, I think, since I started putting in strategies at home.  So how was it all relevant? 

When Ash raises his voice I really have to fight to remain distant from the shouting and to focus on the cause.  Usually it's because he's worried about something totally unrelated to this specific incident but the anxiety triggers the irritability.  If I can remove the anxiety he instantly becomes calm.

Ash notices my body language before I do and if I am feeling particularly irritated by something he will instantly react badly to whatever situation we're in.  I've learnt to relax most of the time (not all the time note, I'm not a saint).

I used to struggle with the fact that Ash can sit for ages doing absolutely nothing.  I felt this wasn't good for him and that he should be 'busy' in order to keep his mind active.  I've now realised that it's more important for him to be in a peaceful state of mind than to be busy.  Who am I to say what he should be doing.  I've learnt that it's ok to do nothing.

I've learnt that Ash and his (new) personality come first with his dementia a very definite second.  Every single person diagnosed with dementia in any of it's many forms is different from any other person with the same diagnosis hence the recognition that one size doesn't fit all.  However, as with the child we discussed this afternoon, it's still strategies that work, you just need to decide which strategies you need and apply them consistently.

At the end of the course we decided that if we watch, listen and learn we will be in a position to put the right approaches in place (be pro-active) and, by applying them consistently, will be able to create a calm and supportive environment which will benefit everyone.  Now do you see the similarities?

Don't forget to leave a comment if this has made you think or if you have anything you want to share.


Lesley said…
I love this. Totally relevant to any human interaction anywhere.