Monday, March 27, 2006

How Should We Respond to Harmful Actions?

If we are not using time-based restrictions, isolation, and loss of privileges when the child acts out, what should we do?

When children do something that hurts others, the adult response is two-fold: the tasks given to the child as “consequences” should provide an opportunity to make amends, and they should provide teaching of skills that will help the child avoid similar problems in the future.

How can a child who has assaulted a staff and damaged property make amends? There are many possibilities. He can do something for that staff: write an apology, talk over what was going on, make him a picture, write and sing him a song, pick him a bouquet of flowers. He can make popcorn for all the kids on the unit to pay back for the disruption he caused. He can help fix the property he damaged.

How can a child who has had a fight with a peer learn skills to avoid future fights? She can be assigned practice in getting along, like playing a game positively for half an hour. She can role-play a relationship problem with a staff. She can interview three people and find out how they handle it when a friend lets them down.

The theme here is that instead of “doing time” the child is learning skills and reconnecting with people.

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