Kindergartener who hits

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by corunnermom, Sep 5, 2017.

  1. corunnermom

    corunnermom Rookie

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    Sep 5, 2017

    We have a kindergartener who hits other children when he is angry. Though he is not officially diagnosed, we suspect that he is somewhere on the autism spectrum. He has very little support at home. I am a paraprofessional and work very closely with my teacher. Though he has many behaviors that need attention, his first goal is to have safe hands. If he has safe hands, he gets a smiley face on a behavior chart and when he attains a certain number, he gets a reward at the end of the day. However, if he does not have safe hands, he gets a sad face, but no other consequence. In all honesty, I'm having difficulty with this plan. He hit a child at lunch today and then got into wrestling match (not play) at recess. When I approached him and the other student, I told them to sit on the curb and take a break. The other student did immediately. However, the student I work with refused. I did a count down and gave him choices, both of which didn't work. So, I let him just keep playing. I understand that he has special needs, but it is apparent that he understands what it means to have safe hands. He can also communicate, but chose to communicate with me in animal sounds when I asked him to sit on the curb. I believe in positive reinforcement, but I also think there needs to be some sort of consequence. I also know that all children are different and have different needs, but in my mind it's not okay to hurt others physically. Any advice or thoughts? I'm trying to change how I think about this student's behavior, but I'm really struggling!
     
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  3. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Sep 5, 2017

    I think you need to consult with the proper people in your school who can start coming in and observing the student and providing research-based strategies that will help with this specific student. It could sensory techniques to calm him first thing, he could benefit from a chart, and numerous other things.

    In this case I think official guidance is needed. Good luck, we feel for you and your student.
     
    bella84 likes this.
  4. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Sep 6, 2017

    In reality, apart from the hitting, this child is not acting differently than most other Kindergarten aged children. The others do not hit, but they do react to various stimuli, and if the stimulus is perceived negatively, their lower brain reacts first. This is an important protection system. Part of the developmental process is for the child to learn to assess and interpret lower brain responses with the upper brain. Not that I'm promoting behaviorism, but some of these corrected responses will develop through conditioning, the same way this child's hitting responses are probably an automatic conditioned response. The child might not be able to define precisely what set him off, either. Sometimes the lower brain suddenly reacts to vaguely perceived stimuli prior to the rest of the brain interpreting it; (kind of like what adults perceive as "intuition").

    I agree that a time out to calm down is ideal, but it seems like this child has learned responses to adult intervention, also, and in this case generated a power struggle. During a period when the child is on a defensive and still in lower-brain functioning, he will not be as responsive to correction. I'm wondering if the sitting on the curb was perceived as punitive rather than a calming down time which could have induced the power struggle. The animal sounds are a common response to punitive correction. (Not that you were at fault in how you corrected this situation either; power struggles happen and are very difficult to deal with).

    Since the physical altercation had ended, perhaps just standing or perhaps all three of you sitting on the curb might have given ample time to calm down. I would honestly verbalize the situation, perhaps saying, "Wow, you guys had quite a problem." I'd listen while each child verbalized the situation. Then I'd redirect each to a more appropriate activity, but I'd also calmly enforce whatever management procedures the classroom teacher uses for such altercations. Again, very calmly. The idea is to teach the child to think through such situations rather than fall prey to lower-brain thinking, only. Another tricky thing to watch out for is not to over emphasize the situation and create a let's-fight-to-get-the-teacher's-reaction game; I'd keep the intervention a brief as possible.

    Another possibility, procedure I've used in all learning that I really like is to re-play a situation and to practice another resolution to the problem (not just behavioral, but even in math, or other academic subjects). It's especially helpful if the children develop the more appropriate response. With your age group, this is where the fun begins. Often the two will come up with a fun age appropriate response. The idea is to develop appropriate social responses to stimuli.
     
  5. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Sep 10, 2017

    Paterson NJ got in trouble for suspending them.
     
  6. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Sep 10, 2017

    I should say I don't know the infractions that could lead to suspension. I just read about it in the newspaper. They stopped the practice after the frequency of the suspensions was reported.
     

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