Sunday, April 1

Reversing Youth Violence Through Relationship

"It is natural for the immature to harm others.
Getting angry with them is like resenting a fire for burning."
Shantideva

The dreaded Temper Tantrum.  We can all be held accountable for one and admit to witnessing one (or several hundred). Temper tantrums represent a major challenge for group care workers. They arouse anxiety because of the physical dangers posed to the child, other children, and the care worker, and because of the potential consequences of mismanagement. An ill-considered over-response can lead to injury, resentment from the child and peers, organizational disapproval, and sometimes legal sanction. On the other hand, under-response can lead to the inadvertent reinforcement of tantrum behaviors, a collapse of personal authority, and anxiety and resentment from the children in care whose sense of security is thus compromised.

The Temper Tantrum can be broken down into 6 phases:
1. Rumbling and Grumbling
The child is often found to be grouchy, appears to be fighting with themselves, is struggling with an internal discomfort, has a heightened sense of helplessness, may be near panic, and is unable to enable an ego-maintaining defense.

2. Help! Help!
During this phase, the child shows a need for help from an adult by causing a LOUD scene.  This is a result of the child being unable to hold back their urges to act out.  The result is an outburst for external control.

3. Either- Or
The child has now asked for the assistance of an adult but is still trying to gain control of the situation internally.  They now begin to express their opinions and how they want to gain control by making threatening remarks. 

4. No No
The child begins to refuse everything and anything said or done by the adult.  Physically, they will begin to pull away, and verbally they will shout 'NO'.  Internally, this child is reacting self defensively.  They believe that by opposing to what the adult wants them to do, they are standing up for themselves and taking back the control. 

5.  Leave Me Alone
Some children may appear to have movements and speech acting perfunctory.  Others may appear sad and have a distant voice.  Their verbalizations and movements suggest their desires to avoid the adult.  At this phase, the child feels defeated and therefore withdraws from engagement.  They act as if they are in a brief depression.

6. Hangover
Once reaching this stage, where the temper tantrum appears to have come to an end, a child may talk and look like nothing happened at all.  Others carry the appearance of guilt, annoyance with themselves, and even self reproach.  Internally, the child is struggling with a bout of anxiety about the entire situation.  This stage provides the best opportunity for learning.


Hear from a 10 year old boy, what exactly he feels before acting with violence.

Too often when I am describing some of the tantrums that are witnessed as a practitioner in the Child and Youth Care field, people respond by telling me to 'put the kid in their place', or 'show em whose boss'.  No, I am not spending four years in post-secondary education to learn various techniques on how to further abuse these youth.  What those people (and their ignorant thoughts) do not understand are the reasons behind a child's escalating behaviours.  Just because you are a parent and your child never responded so aggressively, does not make another child 'bad' or in others' opinions 'a little shit.'  Majority of the time, there are very specific reasons to why the child behaves the way he does.

So what causes a child or youth to tantrum or react violently?


Nutritional Deficiencies
Those addicted to junk food have been nagatively affecting their brain.  With a lack of essential nutrients begin fed to the brain, their ability to learn and behave appropriately is directly affected. 
* That said, Omega3 has been proven as the number one fatty acid children need for their cognitive development. *

Hormones
As increases in androgens are typically associated with an increase in aggression, it explains why males are more often violent than females.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrom
These children commonly struggle with learning difficulties, poor impulse control, the need for immediate gratification, speech problems, the inability to consider long term consequences, and aggression.

Behaviour Theory
To learn through the observation of the actions  and methodolgies of others. Their aggressive reactions and behaviours have been learned through their social environment; interactions with their siblings and parents.

Cognitive Theory
Those that are more aggressive may interpret nonthreatening stimuli as a threat and act upon that assumption with violence.

Social Cognitive Theory
Social control is found within family interactions, especially with parents.  Those children who suffer from cast neglect will often lack social control, resulting in aggressive behaviours.

Attachment Theory
Secure attachment within infancy results with the child learning empathy, social competence, few behavioural problems, and optimal development trajectory.  In contrast, insecure attachment results with relationship and behavioural difficulties.

Psychopath
Often are impulsive, have low feelings of guilt, frequently violate others, are egocentric, manipulative, cold hearted, forceful, and incapable of remorse.

Sociopath
A personality disorder attributed with antisocial behaviour.  They are often less organized in demeanor, lack consistent economic support, and are more likely to act spontaneously, inappropriately without considering consequences.
When to take advantage of a tantrum and turn it into a learning opportunity.

"Why are you yelling all the time?  Why don't you put a badger in a sac and come in the room and swing it over your head?  Have you thought about that?  Well why not, it doesn't work either."
- Dr. Phil

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Lauren Kent

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