Children with behavioural disabilities often display one of three types of extreme behaviour: withdrawal, aggression, or hyperactivity. Each type of behaviour may require a different type of response.
- uses aggressive behaviour to deal with most situations
- withdraws or stays quiet and passive most of the time
- shows excessive activity, restlessness, or inability to stick with something
- regresses to babyish behaviour whenever stress occurs
- cries a great deal, seems depressed and unhappy, laughs seldom
- shows extreme fear and anxiety
- doesn't seem to recognize basic feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, or fear
- always reacts in the same way, such as crying or hitting
- may not want to be touched
What you can do:
- Invite a withdrawn child to join others in an activity by watching others. As the child becomes more comfortable, demonstrate how to play with materials or toys. Encourage the child to play along with you.
- Watch for signs of aggressive behaviour and intervene quickly. Teach problem-solving skills.
- Provide developmentally appropriate activities that are not overly difficult and that will help the child feel capable. Avoid activities that can be done only a certain way.
- Watch for periods when children are less excitable and in control. Use these times to present a new activity that requires some concentration.
- Keep stories and group activities short to match attention spans. Seat the child near you and away from distractions such as a nearby toy shelf.
- Avoid over stimulation. Limit the number of toys or materials you set out at one time.
- Provide adult guidance and structure. Help children to plan or organize an activity. For example, if a child wants to play "fire fighter," you might make suggestions that can help him organize props and invite other children to play.
- Announce cleanup time and other transitions ahead of time. Children with behavioural disabilities often have difficulty with transitions. Assign a specific task to the child during the transition.