Bring Order to Behavior Disorders Insider Secrets for Controlling Uncontrollable Students

 

school counselor blog


Bring Order to
Behavior Disorders:
Insider Secrets for
Controlling Uncontrollable Students

 

Some students' behavior goes beyond just being extremely misbehaved. Some students actually have mental health problems that are called behavior disorders.

Counselor training includes extensive preparation to manage each type of behavior disorder. That is why counselors can sometimes more successfully manage youngsters that educators struggle to control. Most counselors learn specialized behavior management tools tailored for each type of acting-out disorder. Most of these targeted tools work really well for educators too– except that educators are not normally routinely offered this essential training on behavior disorders.

While we are all aware of the hazards of labeling students, we have to have some shorthand to know exactly who we're talking about. If we didn't call a rose a rose, some of us might think Shakespeare was talking about dandelions. If we describe the flower each time, we can end up pretty confused, and long-winded too: "that red, no, I mean pink, no, it's white, no, it's a yellow flower that smells really sweet and may bloom all summer." So, as you read this article, of course you want to be sensitive about students being labeled, but hopefully you can agree that the use of common mental health terms will assure that we all know exactly which students– and which behavior disorders– we're talking about.

workshop trainer Ruth Herman WellsI'm Ruth Herman Wells, M.S., the Director and Trainer for Youth Change Workshops. At Youth Change, we firmly believe that educators and other non-mental health workers are smart enough to make those distinctions. This article will help you understand the categories and corresponding tools to use– or not use– with each type of student. In this issue, we will focus particularly on a single type of behavior disorder.

Unless you're a mental health professional, you can't diagnose the
disorders featured in this article. But you've never been able to diagnose other disorders– like ADHD, for example– but you most certainly have learned how to fine tune how you work with youngsters you believe could have that difficulty. Using that type of adjustment process of carefully tailoring your interventions without diagnosing will work for any mental health disorder that you think you might be encountering. While a diagnosis from a mental health worker would be incredibly useful, you can still work successfully with severely unmanageable youngsters either way.

There are two major mental health disorders that characterize the most extremely misbehaved students. Some youngsters have Oppositional-Defiant Disorder. That is a mental health diagnosis that describes kids that have consciences but sometimes act like they don't. This diagnosis can only be applied by a mental health professional but will be very important for any youth worker to know about and understand. This diagnosis is far more hopeful than the second disorder, "Conduct Disorder," which means the child lacks a conscience and a real capacity for relationships. While the oppositional-defiant child (ODD) may also appear to have little
conscience or relationship capacity, you may be able to improve that
difficulty with the right approach and methods. With conduct disorder (CD), such improvement isn't possible.
 

Understanding Oppositional Defiant Disorder & Conduct Disorder


WHAT DOES OPPOSITIONAL-DEFIANT DISORDER LOOK LIKE?

Oppositional-defiant kids are often some of your most misbehaved students. They may disrupt your class, hurt others, defy authority and engage in illegal or problematic conduct. Though students with ODD may look similar to conduct disorders, their bad behavior is usually less severe, less frequent, and of shorter duration. The ODD label is often inaccurately applied as this dynamic can be a difficult concept to grasp and apply correctly. Because many mental health professionals understandably hesitate to assign the heavy-duty conduct disorder label, they sometimes use the diagnosis of ODD as kind of a parking spot. This convention results in people using methods for ODD with conduct disordered youngsters who would have potentially benefitted from methods for CDs instead. CDs will be adversely affected and poorly managed by the use of strategies designed for students with ODD. In this issue, we are focusing on strategies for children and teens who appear to have ODD.


THE 3 AREAS OF HELP FOR ODD YOUTH

To help the child with ODD, you must focus on:

  1. Skill building
  2. "Pulling up" that conscience– example strategies are below
  3. Improving their relationship skills.


For skill building, teaching them how to regulate their anger, actions, peer skills, verbal output, etc. will be critical. (Note that CDs benefit from this training as well.) But equally important, the child with ODD must be aided to care about others, and to be guided more by conscience. (Note that CDs almost never benefit from this type of aid, and usually become more out-of-control as they assume the adult has "no clue" if they are using methods that involve utterly foreign and irrelevant concepts like conscience, remorse, guilt, and trust.)

In our workshops, we give dozens of effective interventions for stimulating the conscience of children and teens who evidence ODD. We will supply a
few of the best here. These interventions will only focus on stimulating that conscience or "compensating" for it. If you want more than the handful of ideas given here, or you want to see how to build skills and relationship capacity– those other two key intervention areas for students who evidence ODD– consider signing up for our live or online distance learning workshop, or purchasing some of our books that will deliver hundreds of the solutions you need.


STRATEGIES TO STIMULATE OR SIMULATE THE CONSCIENCE

for Students Who Appear to Have ODD

You can use these methods with or without the diagnosis. Remember that these interventions must be combined with the other key focus areas for students with ODD: skill training and relationship training. Also, remember these methods are not appropriate for use with that other type of very misbehaved youngster, children with conduct disorder.

 

STRATEGY #1

Before a child undertakes a problem behavior, ask the youth to imagine that s/he will read about that act on the cover of the local newspaper
in the morning. Ask the child their reaction. If they say that they wouldn't want to read about it in the newspaper the next morning, then you can say "Then don't do it!" This image makes a fast and easy guide for kids to follow to evaluate whether or not to do questionable behaviors. This intervention is a good choice to use with children whose conscience provides little guidance.

 

STRATEGY #2

This intervention can be used before or after the child has engaged in
misbehavior. For example, let's say the child has stolen the teacher's pen, you can say "I want you to imagine that we're making a video about your life. Are you impressed?" That uncomfortable sensation that the child may have in reaction to this intervention may be the conscience stirring.

 

STRATEGY #3

After the child has engaged in a problem behavior, such as stealing a pen, as in the example above, ask the child, "So what's your integrity worth to you?"

 

STRATEGY #4

To adapt the intervention shown above for young children, simply rephrase the question to "So what's people believing in you, worth to you?" Or, rephrase it to "So what's people trusting you, worth to you?"

 

STRATEGY #5

Have students list problem behaviors, and write their responses in a column on a board. Next, in a second column, have them list the most likely consequences of each behavior. Inform students that they can no longer say "I didn't know what was going to happen next," or make similar disclaimers because they have just shown they can make good guesses to predict the future. This strategy is another substitute for the conscience  as students can "guess ahead" before choosing to engage in problem behaviors.

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    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


    Behavior & Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog Articles

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    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
    http://www.youthchg.com | 1.503.982.4220 | 275 N. 3rd St; Woodburn, OR 97071
    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


How to Help Bullied, Potentially Suicidal Students

 

classroom management blog

 

How to Help Bullied,
Potentially Suicidal Students

 


workshop trainer Ruth Herman WellsIt's been the top story in the news: bullied students committing suicide
because they can't cope with the bullying.

I'm educational workshop instructor Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. with ideas that can help right away.

Even veteran counselors and social workers worry they might not always notice every student who is so distressed that they might engage in serious self-harm, but the reality is that the front line of "first responders" is actually made up of educators, who may not have even have mental health expertise.

Further, many educators may have dozens and dozens of students they see each day. That glimpse into a young person's world may not be enough for a teacher to become aware that a student is in serious emotional distress. Especially as schools increase teacher-student ratios, effectively tracking emotionally fragile students becomes harder and harder for even the most dedicated, aware educator.

Despite the significant obstacles educators face when working with deeply troubled youngsters, none of us ever want to wonder if we did absolutely everything we could to spot and stop bullying, and the staggering consequences that can follow. It is a tough, new job to effectively help bullied students.

This issue of our magazine is designed to help you be as pro-active as possible to prevent a tragedy at your site, but by no means is  this short tutorial comprehensive, so if you suspect safety issues, tell your administrator immediately. In the meantime, you can strive to better equip yourself, your students, and your school to be a place where bullying and ensuing tragedies are less likely to happen. This article is a first step in that effort to help bullied students.

For more help, come to our Seattle or Portland Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop (click).

Bad budget? We've got work-study slots if you need financial aid. Call 800.545.5736 for details.

You can also take the distance learning workshop (click), or schedule us to provide a professional development inservice at your site. We also have free online articles, tutorials, strategies and more throughout our site.
 

New Methods to Help Bullied Students Now
 

EDUCATE VICTIMS
AND POTENTIAL VICTIMS


poster for suicidal studentsA good place to start is by educating vulnerable students on how and when to ask for help from adults.

It may seem obvious to you that a child would seek aid, but to the child the bullying can just seem so overwhelming,
massive, and permanent, that the child can feel there is no useful help out there. The printable poster (Poster 248) makes a good visual that can be an on-going reminder.

The resource can also be used as a worksheet to start off a
discussion of issues like these: "Will adults know how to help? " and "What should you do if you feel so hopeless that you want to hurt yourself?"

Gear the discussion to fit the age of your students, but have the discussion right away. Suicides often seem to engender more suicides, and that is why you need to tackle this safety issue right away.

 

STOP USING INEFFECTIVE APPROACHES TO
CONTROL BULLIES


anti-bullying poster 90If only popularity was the best gauge of a method's
effectiveness. The truth is that many very popular methods that are commonly used to rein in bullies are incredibly ineffective and outdated.

Many bullies are not capable of developing a "normal" conscience and compassion, yet many bullying intervention methods– like character ed– rely on students having those traits, or being able to learn them. If you truly want to become more effective at controlling bullies, you must switch to more up-to-date
interventions that don't require a conscience or compassion in order to have impact.

Here's a few examples of strategies that don't rely on the bully being able to have or rapidly develop compassion. Ask the bully to make a list of all the activities that he wants to do in life, then have the youngster go through the list and cross out all the items that "go well" with bullying. For example, the student may list his desire to be a truck driver. Ask the student to consider if the trucking company boss or the truck dispatcher is going to want to want to take time to deal with a driver who bullies dispatchers, co-workers, customers, or superiors. If the student resists, have the student actually talk to a truck company boss or dispatcher, and ask. If the student says "But I won't bully on the job," challenge the student to prove it by stopping bullying now for
one month. If the student can't or won't stop, ask the student who else will help him learn how to be different by the time he's on the job.

Use the expression "Bully Today. Bully Tomorrow." Notice how all these techniques show the bully that by hurting others, she is hurting herself. It is critical that all the interventions you use with bullies contain that element. Bullies may never care about others, but they almost always care about "Me-Me-Me." Use that to reduce the bullying behavior by convincing the bully "I can't hurt others without hurting me." Our Poster #090 (shown above) is another good example of how the bully will only alter her behavior when she sees it's in her own interest to do so. To order this bully prevention poster for $8, click here.
 

WORK WITH BOTH BULLIES
AND BULLIED STUDENTS

Most schools tend to focus on the bully. While a focus on the bully is certainly essential, since it takes two for the situation to occur, it is as important to work with the victim as it is to work with the bully. If you fail to assist the victim to develop the skills, motivation, and attitude needed to avoid further victimization, you are failing to use half the tools you have available.

To leave all the accountability with the bully– who has a demonstrated record of not being trustworthy or compassionate– is unwise, potentially dangerous, and
inappropriate.

It is always critical that you upgrade the victim's skills to prevent and manage victimization. To not do so could be considered negligent. To upgrade the bullied student's skills, focus on spotting aggression before it starts, what to say or do to avoid victimization, where to go, where to never go, and so on. But the recent student suicides are a reminder that adults have to help victims cope. Learning to cope  emotionally may be as important– perhaps more important– than just learning bullying prevention and survival skills.

Create a worksheet entitled "The Consequences of My Actions." This intervention can be used effectively with both bullies and bullied students. Design the worksheet to have three columns. In Column 1, students list their Behaviors such as bullying or being bullied.

In Column 2 and 3, they list the Money Cost and the Pain Cost of those behaviors.

For bullies, the worksheet captures the consequences of bullying, and how those consequences can be so distasteful that it can make bullying less appealing. For bullied students, this worksheet can show what positive outcome can happen when these youngsters learn and use new skills to actively avoid bullying. This worksheet also shows bullied students how failing to take protective steps can predictably yield poor results.

The hallmark of depression is powerlessness. This worksheet can help bullied students feel that their actions can have impact and power. For bullied students, this worksheet can help convince them to learn and use new skills, while also helping to combat the feelings of powerlessness that lead to depression and potentially, to desperate behaviors.

If you prefer to order this worksheet, purchase our Coping Skills Sampler book here.

 

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    Bring the Breakthrough Strategies Workshop to Your Site

    Help Unmotivated, Failing, Troubled and Unmanageable Students

    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


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    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
    http://www.youthchg.com | 1.503.982.4220 | 275 N. 3rd St; Woodburn, OR 97071
    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


What Every Youth Professional Must Know About Violent Students, Part 2

 

classroom management blog


What Every Youth Professional
Must Know About Violent Students

Part 2 of 2

 

 

school violencePart 2 of 2

workshop presenter Ruth Herman WellsHere is Part 2 of 2 sections of this important article on violence prevention.

It is part of the intial three introductory articles inYouth Change Workshops' Behavior and Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog.

I'm author, keynote speaker and workshop trainer Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. If you missed Part 1, find it here.

This is Part 2 of 2 sections on student violence prevention. Feel free to share this critical, must-know safety information about violent students, with your colleagues and administrators.

Recap of Part 1


In the last issue, we explained the term "conduct disorder", and gave an introduction to this youngster, who is perhaps at highest risk of extreme violence. The first part of this article emphasized how you must work differently with CDs compared to any other kids. Hopefully, we successfully conveyed how critical it is to work with CDs differently than everyone else, or risk finding yourself or others in dangerous situations. Hopefully, we also successfully emphasized how important it is for non-mental health workers who are new to the concept of conduct disorder, to thoroughly update their skills for working with these hard-to-manage youth.
 

Students at 2nd and 3rd Risk of Extreme Violence


These youth are not nearly at as great a risk as the child with conduct disorder. We will cover each of these 2 types of youth separately, but must stress that the risk for both of these 2 groups drops off from that posed by conduct disorders. Of course, remember that when any child appears to be potentially violent, you take that concern seriously, regardless of whether the child was on our list. This list is meant only to guide you when you lack any specific events or circumstances that show you how to apportion your time, supervision and other resources to best maximize your violence prevention efforts.

 

Thought Disorders

The risk posed by children who have thought disorder, is probably far less than that of conduct disordered youth. Part of the explanation is that there are probably a lot more conduct disordered kids than thought disordered ones. The other reason that explains the somewhat distant #2 status is that the thought disordered child may be well-intentioned, kind, and loving at times. These children do have consciences. The child with conduct disorder is really never is able to care about anyone else. Another reason to explain the distant #2 status is that often the thought disordered child will act in rather than act out. In terms of violence prevention, that means they probably pose more of a threat to self rather than others.

Unless you work in a treatment setting, just a very small fraction of the children you work with, may have what mental health professionals call a thought disorder. Like diagnosing conduct disorder, thought disorder can only be determined by a mental health professional. A lay person can do grave harm attempting to diagnose mental health disorders. While the thinking of the conduct disorder is clear and lucid, that assumption is not always true for the thought-disordered child. The child who has been diagnosed with this type of problem by a mental health worker, has very serious problems with their thinking. The child may hear voices or see visions that no one else can, for example. The child may believe demons or devils are governing them. If the voices, for instance, tell the child to hurt someone, then the child may feel compelled to do it. As for the implications for violence prevention, this is where potential danger could lie.

The thrust of working with a diagnosed thought disorder on proper medication, although focusing on skill building and structure are also important. The single most important concern will be that the child takes any prescribed medication regularly and properly, because when properly medicated, this child may function almost normally in many ways. When not correctly medicated, this child is at the mercy of any demons, visions, voices or upsetting thoughts that pop into their head.

 

Severely Agitated, Depressed Kids

The occurrence of extreme violence by severely depressed, agitated children probably also greatly lags behind the risk posed by conduct disorders. This term refers to a child who has experienced extremely severe problems with depression, and also struggles mightily at least once with agitation. Many kids, especially teens, struggle with depression, but this group endures some of the most prolonged, profound, deep depression; this should not be confused with typical adolescent ups and downs.

Crisis, sudden changes and the usual adolescent successes and failures can quickly de-stabilize this child who is already seriously struggling. This youngster is very vulnerable to more minor vicissitudes, meaning that the youngster can blow up in reaction to moderate set-backs. Often, it is "the straw that broke the camel's back" that can light the fuse. Bullying can be the source of the blow-up, but it can be almost anything that triggers this youngster. Like all the other disorders discussed here, only mental health professionals can diagnose severe depression. Consult one if needed. When facing violence prevention concerns with this child– or any other student– always seek immediate, expert help if you are even a bit unsure how to proceed.

Any emotion that a child has trouble managing may get acted out or acted in. Depression is generally acted in. Many view it as anger turned inward: the child withdraws, reduces their activities, may eat less, etc. But, depression can also be acted out. Feeling cornered, unable to endure any more pain, some children will act out, sometimes lashing out in very severe ways.

All things in nature strive to come to a conclusion. Storms eventually dissipate, the rain ultimately gives way to sun, and even the snow will eventually end. Humans, as part of nature, also tend to move towards resolution. For some children, extreme violence can be the flash point that offers that resolution. When there appears to be no hope, perhaps the child believes that there is nothing left to lose.

Depression can be tough on adults, but couple the depression with a child's lack of time concept, lack of perspective, their impulsiveness, immaturity, and resistance to understanding the link of actions to final outcomes, extreme violence can seem to be a solution. If this vulnerable child becomes involved with a conduct disordered peer, you can see how under certain circumstances, that could become a deadly combination as the depressed, agitated child may join in the acting-out.

To help this child, alleviating some of the torment will be critical. Help to manage anger in socially acceptable ways, tempering the depression, and alleviating some of the agitation can keep this child from remaining at the level of extreme discomfort they currently experience. If this child receives useful aid to vent the agitation and can find some tempering of the depression, any risk of extreme violence can be significantly impacted.

Of the three risk categories, this group's concerns are potentially the most amenable to intervention by you, and is of the three, the most hopeful diagnosis. You can have much lasting impact on this child. The three best interventions: Talking out problems, exercising and possibly anti-depressants.

 

Appraising the Risk

Now you can look at your class or group and not just wonder where the where potential, serious danger could come from. Now that you have more refined guesses about which youth potentially pose potential danger, here is a way to better rank that risk in your mind. A juvenile court judge in Springfield, Oregon, said after the shooting there, "These kids are like little match sticks waiting to be lit." To adapt that image a bit, here is how you can apply that thinking to the three at-risk groups listed here.

You can imagine that the conduct disorder is already lit; a flame is burning. Whether that flame becomes smaller, flares larger, or creates an inferno, is anyone's guess, but the flame is burning always, the potential for disaster is always there.

The thought-disordered child may be like a pilot light, a tiny flame that is always lit, but is fairly unlikely to inexplicably get massively bigger or out of control. Properly shepherded and assisted, this light may stay forever just a benign flicker. Unshepherded or inadequately assisted, however, this flame can get bigger, even flare out of control.

The extremely agitated depressed child may be the unlit match stick that the judge visualized. Outside factors will likely come into play to incite any flare-up. Outside forces could include peer pressure, bullying, crises, substance abuse, family woes, or just mounting problems that fuel the agitation and create a profound, all-encompassing sense of desperation that leads the child to "spontaneously" combust. Like the thought-disordered child, the severely agitated depressed youth can often be so readily aided if the community can identify them, then consistently care and effectively intervene.

In Summary

If you work with kids, but you are not a mental health professional, maybe it's time to at least learn some of the basics about children's mental health. And, no matter what your role with children, please consider it your obligation to train your kids to be peaceful. That may be the most important contribution you could make in a world that so thoroughly ensures that every child knows so much about extreme violence, and so little about anything peaceful.


For More Information on Violence Prevention:

Be sure to visit the web site for more information you can access right now. If you do come to our Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop, we'll spend as much time on this complicated child as you want. Or, you can arrange an on-site workshop presentation on violent students held at your site for your staff.

webtitlesNeed an online alternative? Our Control the Uncontrollable Students Online Class has what you need, plus 1 free clock hour.

Conduct disorder book If you prefer to read, check out our All the Best Answers for the Worst Kid Problems: Conduct Disorders and Anti-Social Youth book or ebook.
 

 

Previous Behavior and Classroom Management Blog Issue:

The 3 Types of Students at Highest Risk of Extreme Violence (Part 1)

 

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    Reprint or Repost This Article
     

    Bring the Breakthrough Strategies Workshop to Your Site

    Help Unmotivated, Failing, Troubled and Unmanageable Students

    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


    Behavior & Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog Articles

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    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
    http://www.youthchg.com | 1.503.982.4220 | 275 N. 3rd St; Woodburn, OR 97071
    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


What Every Youth Professional Must Know About Violent Students

 

classroom management blog


What Every Youth Professional
Must Know About Violent Students

Part 1 of 2

 

 

violent studentPart 1 of 2

workshop presenter Ruth Herman WellsThis is author, keynote speaker and workshop trainer Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. This article is one of the most important I've ever written. That is why we are making it one of our introductory articles for Youth Change Workshops' Behavior and Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog.

This is Part 1 of 2 sections. Feel free to share this critical, must-know safety information about violent students, with your colleagues and administrators.

There are three types of kids who may be at the highest risk of extreme violence. Obviously, you must take seriously any threat or indication of danger from any kid, so if a dangerous child you know doesn't fit one of these categories, please don't just breathe a sigh of relief. Rather, the point of emphasizing these three top-risk youth, is to have you apportion your time wisely. You can't monitor each child equally. This information may guide you on who you monitor most closely, especially in the absence of other events or information to guide you.

In this space, we will have time to cover only one of these violent students in any kind of detail. We will cover the second two types of students in the third issue of this magazine, plus we'll expand a bit on the information covered here. Our information on the 3 most violent students was first published by The Child Welfare Report in 1998, and is updated and revised here.

The youth at highest risk of extreme violence may be the conduct disordered child. If you don't already know this term, visualize the fictional character, J.R. from the TV show "Dallas" because the hallmark of being a conduct disorder (CD), is having no heart, no conscience, no remorse.

Only a mental health professional can diagnose a conduct disorder for sure, but being aware that you may have a conduct disordered child in your class or group, is important to ensuring your safety, along with the safety of your students, because you work with conduct disorders completely differently than other kids. Since the child with CD has no conscience or relationship capacity, you should not use relationship-based approaches with a diagnosed conduct disorder.

It would be insensitive to call a conduct disorder a "baby sociopath," but that is close to what the term means. It means that the child acts in ways that appear to be seriously anti-social, and the concern is that the child may grow up to be a sociopathic type of person.

Since this child cares only about himself (CDs are predominately male), there are little brakes slowing this child from doing serious or extreme violence. Not every conduct disordered child will engage in horrific behavior. There is a range of misbehavior student with CD may get involved with, ranging from lying to setting fires or being a sexual predator. At the most serious end of the spectrum, lies the possibility of extreme violence, such as a school shooting. Sadly, youth with CD are often your violent students.

Conduct disorder book violent student workshopIn our workshop, we spend at least several hours helping you understand how to work with students with conduct disorder. You can come to one of our workshops, get the workshop online  or get some of our books or ebooks  that teach you how to work with this most hard-to-manage, violent student. But do something to make sure you thoroughly understand how to work completely differently with this violent student than any other child. Your safety– and that of your students– depends on how well you understand and manage these potentially violent youngsters.
 

Methods for Conduct Disordered Youth

There's not space for all the critical do's and don't's that you must know but here are some of the most important to give you a bit of an introduction to what you need to know:

DO

The main point we give in our classes is that these children operate on a cost-benefit system, and that to control your students with CD, you must keep the costs high, and benefits low. These children also especially need to pro-actively learn how to manage their fists, mouth, and actions. Your goal is to teach them that when they hurt others, it often hurts them too. All interventions must be in the context of "I-Me," because that is all this youngster is capable of caring about.

DON'T

There are so many "DON'Ts" that it's hard to know where to start. Even more problematic, many of the ordinary techniques that you use with other kids utterly fail with CDs, and are actually quite dangerous to use. Here are several of the most critical concerns to be aware of when you work with a diagnosed– that's the important word here– conduct disorder. Without the diagnosis, use these guides especially carefully. It's important to note that a little bit of information can be a dangerous thing, so be sure to upgrade your skills on CDs more thoroughly than reading this brief introduction. You can easily use our resources for this purpose. Since safety is always a serious concern when working with CDs, there is no substitute for learning more than the headlines listed here.

DON'T have a heart-to-heart relationship.

DON'T work on building trust.

DON'T rely on compassion, caring, empathy, values, morals.

DON'T expect compassionate behavior.

DON'T trust.

DON'T give second chances.

DON'T believe they care or feel remorse.

Hopefully this brief guide to the hardest-to-manage, most potentially dangerous youth will help you avoid using everyday interventions that will be unproductive, even dangerous. Hopefully this information will steer you towards relying on non-relationship-based interventions that emphasize learning skills like anger control, managing the fist, etc. along with firm rules, boundaries and limits.

 

For More Information on Violent Students:

Be sure to visit the web site for more information you can access right now. If you do come to our Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop, we'll spend as much time on this complicated child as you want. Or, you can arrange an on-site workshop presentation on violent students held at your site for your staff.

webtitlesNeed an online alternative? Our Control the Uncontrollable Students Online Class has what you need, plus 1 free clock hour.

Conduct disorder book If you prefer to read, check out our All the Best Answers for the Worst Kid Problems: Conduct Disorders and Anti-Social Youth book or ebook.
 

 

Next Behavior and Classroom Management Blog Issue:

2 More Types of Students at Highest Risk of Extreme Violence (Part 2)

 

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