When a child obsessed with a particular challenging behavior comes into the limelight of the family and school environment, parents and teachers often find themselves at a loss, sometimes completely incapable of turning things around or assisting the child to behave suitably. Often they encounter feelings of frustration, stress, and defeat (Kaiser & Rasminsky 3).
Some of the challenging behaviors observed in elementary level children include attention seeking, low self-esteem, withdrawal, aggression, and refusal to cooperate. This paper, however, will concentrate on aggression as a challenging behavior, basing the discussion on comprehensive research and interviews conducted on two teachers of elementary-level children.
Aggressive behavior among children is largely conceived as a byproduct of insecure parent-child attachment especially during the first years of the child’s life, though current research reveals that aggressiveness may also be exhibited due to some innate predispositions (Kaiser & Rasminsky 6).
From the interviews, it was noted that children with aggressive tendencies have a high risk of school failure, rejection by peers, expulsion from pre-school programmes, and mostly develop punitive and unpleasant contacts with teachers and parents respectively. In the absence, of proper correctional interventions, their adult lives are likely to be characterized by violence, unemployment, depression, and substance abuse.
According to the interviews and research, children who are more likely to engage in violent behavior exhibit other characteristics such as severe learning disabilities, aloofness, visual or hearing impairments, socialization difficulties, and sleep disturbances (Male 163).
Other indicators, according to Male, include “…attention seeking, demand avoidance, communication problems, stress, interference with routines, and provocation” (163). A common misconception of this behavior is that children are always conscious of what they are doing and, therefore, deserves to be punished.
Although many teachers report feelings of frustration, upset, exhaustion, anger, and stress when dealing with aggressive children, it is imperative to develop a framework that will utilize problem-solving and understanding capacities to assist the child out of the problem (Male 168).
According to the interviews, separating the child from the problem and attempting to comprehensively understand the issues hidden beneath the problem so as to offer practical solutions to the child works in many instances. Research has demonstrated that aggressive behavior can effectively be prevented when teachers work to comprehend the risk and protective aspects in the minors’ lives and develop a responsive learning environment.
Within the family setup, family members needs to understand the child’s situation and the factors behind such aggressive behavior so as to develop a responsive social environment which encourages the child to communicate freely and share problems (Kaiser & Rasminsky 23).
More importantly, teachers should develop a functional assessment model for the child with aggressive behavior to assist them understand where the behavior comes from, the rationale behind exhibiting such aggressive tendencies, and why the behavior happens at a particular time or when certain conditions exists. It is only by addressing these factors that the problem can be successfully dealt with.
The functional assessment strategy should also be extended to the home environment so that the behavior is addressed from all fronts (Kaiser & Rasminsky 25).
When all the factors behind the aggressive behavior have been analyzed, teachers and parents should engage in positive behavior support to reinforce positive behavior and open up avenues through which the child will be able to effectively communicate arising problems and issues.
Lastly, the ‘Working Effectively with Violent and Aggressive States’ (WEVAS) approach can be employed to assist teachers and parents recognize the warning indicators of aggressive behavior, perceive issues from the child’s perspective, and effectively match their responses to the needs projected by the child (Kaiser para. 5). The WEVAS approach stresses the use of open and non verbal communication and planned responses to detect and diffuse aggressive behavior before directing the child to behave appropriately.
Kaiser, B., & Rasminsky, J.S. Challenging Behavior in Young Children: Understanding, Preventing and Responding Effectively. New York, NY: Allyn & Bacon. 2002
Kaiser, B. Challenging Behavior in Young Children: Understanding, Preventing and Responding Effectively. 2007. Retrieved 18 Oct 2010
Male, D. Challenging Behavior: The Perceptions of Teachers of Children and Young People with Severe Learning Disabilities. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs 3.3 (2003): 162-171. Retrieved 18 Oct 2010