On occasion children, with special needs, in our care may present some difficult behaviors. First and foremost, it is important to use our skills of empathy and compassion. It is good to remember and understand that you are not dealing with a disability who has a person, but a person with a disability. We compassionately remember that in many cases this difficult behavior is not a result of a conscious or willful choice and it is almost always rooted in some precipitating event which can be avoided in the future. If it appears that an angry outburst is imminent there are some signs that the child is becoming frustrated and angry. Here are some things to watch for:
Signs of Anger
- Increased breathing rate
- Clenching fists
- Red face
- Hand shaking
- Tense muscles
- Teeth grinding, or jaw clenched
- Physical attacks (hitting, scratching, biting)
What to Do in Managing Angry Outbursts at the Peak of the Crisis
1. Send others away from the area.
2. Increase distance from you and the child. Stand at least two leg lengths away from them. Instead of standing face-to-face, stand to the side (L-shape) of the child. Keep your hands out of your pockets, to your side and available to protect yourself. Stand with one foot slightly in front of the other with your weight evenly distributed. This stance is non-confrontational and non-threatening.
3. Remove dangerous objects or attempt to get the child into a safer room.
4. Remain in control; stay calm and quiet. Anxiety can make the client feel anxious and unsafe which can escalate aggression. Allow yourself to disengage emotionally, and don’t take the behavior personally.
5. Use a pillow or cushion to protect yourself if the child strikes or tries to bite. You may put your arms and hands up to block an attack.
6. Take deep breaths to help you stay calm. Do not try to restrain the child! Physical intervention increases aggressive behavior and can inadvertently cause injury to you or to the child.
7. Remove yourself and/or the child to another room to give them time to regain sense of control. It makes it less likely for other individuals to get involved or become an audience for the agitated child. This also creates a quieter environment and may help in de-escalating the child.
This helpful guide was assembled by Helping Hands Respite Care’s Child In-Home Care Supervisor, Tarra Boris. Contact her at 517-372-6671 ext 103 or email firstname.lastname@example.org