Welcome to Monday Email #15
I'm having serious issues with challenging behaviour this week. No matter how much you study behaviour, there will always be someone that you find it hard to support and manage. So if anyone has any advice for how I can get my parents to accept the new restrictions and change their behaviour, that would be great, thanks!
One Strategy for Behaviour
Last week, I shared a very rational approach to combating severe anxiety of situations or events. The strategy was "Think Like a Scientist" and based itself on principles from cognitive behaviour therapy. I want to give you a completely different approach today to demonstrate the importance of having a wide range of tools based on different principles. Which is the best one? The one that works.
This strategy is called the Captain's Logbook and looks quite similar to last week's technique. The devil is in the detail, however.
If a child is feeling extremely anxious in a situation consistently, we can assign them a diary. This diary can be broken up into seven sections: date, time, place, situation, person, symptoms, reaction. It should look something like this:
The instruction to the child is to take out the diary whenever they can feel severe anxiety coming on and to fill in each of the seven categories with as much detail as possible. You are looking for as much information as they can provide so you can support them.
The real idea behind this, however, is different. This strategy is a distraction technique. If the child follows your instruction and takes out their diary at the moment their anxiety is rising and fills it in, their focus is being shifted away from the situation they fear and onto completing seven columns of detailed information. Their anxiety may reduce as their attention moves to the diary.
Why do we do this? So we can help them have a corrective emotional experience. We are aiming to have them feel something other than fear in the situation that previously bothered them. If we can get them to acknowledge after a number of diary entries that whilst they were filling in the diary in the feared situation, they weren't afraid or their anxiety reduced, they can come to realise they have overcome their fear by accident.
One Strategy for Inclusion
Sometimes, you don't even realise that a school is being inclusive because children with invisible needs are fully participating. Usually, this occurs because teachers, parents and schools foresee the challenges that children will face and have solutions in place before the child even meets the barrier to inclusion. Now is a time for foreseeing challenges, especially with regards to returning to school.
One way to help us foresee these challenges is to have open communication with parents.
A great suggestion I have seen is asking parents and/or children to fill in a one-page profile about coming back.
We could ask how the past few months have gone, what did they like, what did they not like, what are their questions and concerns about coming back and do they have any suggestions? How do they feel about coming back?
The information we garner from these one-page documents would help massively in foreseeing potential challenges, flagging certain children to keep an eye on and also, identify what they liked about remote learning that could be an option moving forward.
Change is always an interesting topic when it comes to behaviour. I had to research change a lot at one point in my studies, in particular the areas of resistance to change. I came across a great point that stuck with me.
"When we ourselves resist change, we consider ourselves realistic. Yet, when we try to make a change and are met with opposition, this is called resistance".
We all are prone to resisting change when it is not our idea. We call the suggestions unrealistic, aspirational and pick holes in the changes. However, when we propose our own changes, we are much more flexible and solution-focussed and pour scorn on the negativity that we may encounter. I definitely do this at times.
The next few months are going to bring about lots of change in schools. We can't even predict what they may end up like. What we can do, however, is bring some awareness to how we embrace change. We can meet change and critique it, implement it, help improve it and tweak it or we can meet change with a negative attitude picking out problems and suggesting no solutions. The former attitude will benefit children far more than the latter.
Bringing this awareness to our attitude is also helpful when working with children who have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. If we bring an attitude of resistance to any suggested changes to help to bring the best out in the child, we are not serving the child's best interests.
We need to be conscious of our rigid beliefs, bias and preconceived ideas so we don't just accept them as concrete facts. Staying curious and neutral to suggestions in life will help us remain more open to improvements, whether they are our ideas or those of others.
If you have read to this point, you must have found something of note here. I'd appreciate you sharing this email or the contents of it by screenshots, forwarding, social media or any means necessary and send people to www.behaviour101.com to get their own. Thanks for the support.
P.S I have recently launched a course for teachers in New South Wales, Australia. The course is fully accredited and contributes 2 hours to their NESA registered professional development.
If you know any teachers in Sydney or anywhere in New South Wales, I would massively appreciate you sending them the link.