Thursday, May 3, 2012

What's appropriate?

A few of the students in my room have moments where they are physically aggressive. They are little so it rarely actually hurts any of us, but we need to set the tone in the room that it is a safe place, and of course teach them that physical aggression is not OK. Yet how we go about doing that varies from child to child based on their disability.

For one of my students we have learned to just ignore him when he hits. It feels so wrong, but if we do not even acknowledge that he hits us he will not do it again. If we loudly say, "NO HITTING!", or put him in the quiet spot he does it again. He is doing it to get a reaction from us, but if we ignore it he stops. It took awhile to figure that out and we really had to look at the reasoning behind the behavior- what was he getting from it- were our consequences actually giving him what he wanted?  In this case they were- he wanted attention and by hitting us he was getting it.

For another of my students it is a bit tougher to figure out. The physical aggression is very rare, but when it exists it is significant. He has the ability to understand consequences- so what is appropriate?  Of course school guidelines recommend an in or out of school suspension, but we also need to look at if that is giving the student what they want. If the student is being aggressive to escape a task then in-school or out of school suspension is giving him exactly what he wants. In-school suspension also means that he gets to sit in the office and make new friends with the office staff, and get their attention with the same physical behaviors that got him into the suspension in the first place.

So what is an appropriate consequence?  He wrote apology letters to those he hurt, but we write apology letters for small things like hurting someone's feelings- physically hurting someone seems like it should carry a bit more weight.

How do we find something appropriate that will teach the student not to be physical again?

I plan to be proactive as well- redesign the behavior plan to hopefully prevent this behavior in the future. I want to give him more control of the school day and hope that he feels more empowered in our classroom. We have, and will continue to do, lots of work on what to do when we are angry or frustrated. We practice our "how to calm down" strategies all the time.

But we need a plan in place that is reactive just in case we need it. And it needs to be appropriate and one that everyone must be comfortable following through with. We cannot give a consequence in a moment of frustration only to have it not followed through. This little one understands limits. He is fully aware when we do not follow through on our words.
So we need to have a few appropriate consequences that will teach and encourage positive behavior.

I am stuck.  Ideas? Suggestions? Point me towards books to read?

Mrs. Lipstick :)

1 comment:

Alex T. Valencic said...

My principal has been encouraging all of us to become acquainted with executive functioning skills. I know there are some pretty good books for it, like Executive Function in the Classroom that go across grade levels and student abilities. I don't know what you've read or tried, but I've seen some success in my intermediate room with it.

I have a student with some pretty serious aggression problems who loves learning about how his body works and what he can do to have more self-control, but he's in fourth grade.