I probably have blogged about behavior in the past but it's on my mind again so maybe I'll add a bit more. In my opinion, there are very few instances where children act out...just to act out/cause problems. There is almost always an underlying reason...maybe not something the child can verbalize but definitely there. So maybe I'll share with you parts of what was mentioned at a recent training (probably why it's so fresh on my mind). I can't say I learned a lot of new information at this training. Seems like that is the case now that I've been in the field as long as I have and have taken training after training and try to keep up with the new expectations/standards/thoughts about early childhood. But they are usually all good refreshers...and we know that we need that!
Though I've seen this little visual regarding the "tip of the iceberg" the trainer used the topic of the Titanic to help the class understand. If the Titanic had hit the tip of the iceberg...it most likely would have been fine...however it was what was below the surface of the water that caused the ship to sink. That's the same with children and behavior...especially serious behavior issues. The issues are below the surface...they are much deeper then what we see. And those are the issues that cause a child to "sink". I include cognitive difficulties that have not been diagnosed as a brain injury, stroke, so on in this category because often a child that are dealing with other situations below the surface will be a slower learner. So it is important to really know the child. Then we can get to the "bottom of the situation" and truly help them. Often I see classroom teachers that don't have or take the time to look below the surface and they treat the symptoms vs. treating the root(s) of the problem. Another problem that arises is that at about 6 years of age...the brain paths (too keep it simple) are much more "in place" then under 6 years of age. Under 6 years we can redirect those paths through repetition/consistency but over 6 years it will take years and years to redirect them. So, yet another reason why early childhood is so important. (Brain development is SO interesting!)
I was given a screening tool that again is not "new information" but is something I'll incorporate at enrollments. Nice to have a little "checklist" to help us better understand the child we will soon be working with. The quicker we know the child and his/her background the sooner we can be using individualization in the techniques we use. So here are some things to think about...and perhaps ask yourself, regarding your child...or ask your families upon enrollment or if there are behavior/cognitive issues going on. This screening is called the "Significant Life Events Screen". So what falls under this idea of "significant life events"? Here are some.
* loss of caregiver (death-left home-imprisonment-hospitalization)
* loss of a sibling +
* loss of other significant relative/friend/pet
* physically or sexually abused +
* witness of abuse of a significant other +
* witness to violence
* marital or family arguing
* use of harsh words at home (yelling, teasing, insulting, intimidating, scaring)
* placed in foster care or adopted +
* caregiver or family member with serious illness +
* parents separated/divorced and/or child living in two homes
* new member living in the home
* change of caregiver (due to work, day care change, starting school)
* multiple caregivers
* several adults living in home
* major change in family/friend relationships
* family moves
* witness to caregiver intoxication from alcohol/drugs
* plays or watches violent video games/TV +
* and more...
+ these events have more "weight" due to the trauma or how much/how often it happens.
The more we check off per child...the more apt that the child will have behavior issues. Children will naturally protect themselves with not trusting others and in how they behave. Maybe I'll add one last comment here before leaving off this topic for a bit. :-) There are some events/experiences that could be considered traumatic that happen when a child is under three months old, particularly abuse and neglect. The child will still be effected by them. The brain is quite amazing and the more we know about its development the better we can meet the needs of the children. The more I learn the more children "make sense". I strongly suggest that, if you haven't already, to read up on the recent research in brain development (advice for parents and/or teachers).
Been a few days since I've blogged as we were away. Hope you all had lovely days and a great 4th of July!