Friendly Oaks Publications, Pleasanton, Texas
(830) 569-3586, fax (830) 281-2617
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dr. James Sutton (author)
Trouble Again. What’s the Answer?
When poor behavior doesn’t change
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: Jimmy is about to set a record for discipline referrals, as his latest victim heads to the school nurse with bruises and a chipped tooth. So much for his understanding of the consequences should he hit or shove anyone ever again. In this case, “ever again” barely made it through the morning.
It’s not that Jimmy doesn’t understand the rules and consequences; he can quote them chapter and verse. It’s that he’s operating from a position that trumps the dickens out of rules and consequences: survival. Consequences won’t alter the behavior of the child who bent on surviving the moment.
“Admittedly, we talking about a small population of students who are this resistant to redirection and change,” says psychologist and former public school teacher, Dr. James Sutton, “but these are the kids who are in serious trouble just about all the time.”
Thinking in Pictures
In his latest work, The Changing Behavior Book: A Fresh Approach to the Difficult Child, Sutton describes this as Desperate Behavior. “It’s like this student is permanently stuck in an emotionally dark basement. They can’t see a way out. In moments of perceived threat and panic, these youngsters switch from thinking in words to thinking in images, and the pictures aren’t good ones. Images move much more quickly than words, so these students are way ahead of us most of the time.”
Intervention and change involve a proactive and systematic plan for bringing this student out of the basement and into fresher air. “As strange as it sounds,” Sutton shares, “it begins with helping this youngster, the one who threatens others, to feel safer.”
It can be as simple as giving this student a bit more physical space. A teacher in Florida places a couple of extra desks outside the usual rows and columns. The student can go to one of those desks anytime he wishes; no questions asked. Also, putting this youngster in a very small work group helps him from feeling overwhelmed.
This student also has constant needs for soothing; the one thing he struggles with the most. A teacher in Idaho addressed this need by affixing this homemade label to a bottle of hand lotion: Control Cream. A little lotion applied at just the right moment can settle things down quickly. (Notice how this is a tactile and image-based intervention; no words required.) With a few modifications this approach works well for older students, also. The best outcome, of course, is for the youngster to learn to gauge their frustration and reach for the lotion themselves.
“With a better plan and a bit of patience, we often can turn the corner with students showing extreme behaviors,” Sutton concludes.
The Book: The Changing Behavior Book: A Fresh Approach to the Difficult Child (2012 release, ISBN 9781878878779, 282 pages with index) is published by Friendly Oaks Publications.
The Author: A nationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is in demand for his expertise on emotionally and behaviorally troubled youngsters, and his skill for sharing it. He the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, a popular internet radio program supporting young people by helping their families and teachers. Every month he publishes The Changing Behavior Digest, offering tips on managing difficult children and teens. Both resources (and others) are available at no cost through his website, http://www.DocSpeak.com.
Contact: Dr. Sutton can be contacted directly for interviews, comment or additional information.