Helping Kids Behave Part Six 

  Conflict Cycle/Anger  

 Conflict can also lead to anger. Long’s conflict cycle is based on the premise that crisis is the product of a child’s stress that is kept alive by the actions of others (Davis, Nelson, & Gauger, 2000).

The root cause of aggression is then an unresolved conflict. Similarly Chapman (2000) notes that most anger stem from a perceived wrong. When children’s emotions are aroused by stress they learn to behave in ways that shield them from painful feelings.

The behaviors may be inappropriate but they still protect the youth from these distressing feelings. Others perceive the behavior as negative or the behavior may in turn arouse painful feelings in that person.

They therefore respond in a negative fashion toward the youth. This in turn snowballs in the youth producing additional stress and additional inappropriate behaviors that are also intended to protect the youth. Thus a spiral starts and a minor incident escalates into a crisis. 

The adult’s own self-control is a key to breaking the cycle. If the adult becomes angry or upset he or she risks escalating the situation. The adult needs to train him or herself NOT TO LET ANYTHING YOUR STUDENTS SAY OR DO MAKE YOU LOSE YOUR SELF-CONTROL.

It is a matter of the adult doing the RIGHT thing when the child/adolescent does the WRONG thing (Chapman,2000). Some children know a teacher's triggers and pull them at will. One needs to know his or her own triggers also and try to be aware of when students are trying to pull them.

HOW do you do this? Davis, Nelson, and Gauger (2000) have some suggestions. The author has used some or all of them at times and found them to be effective. In their abridged form they are:

Suggestions for Maintaining Self Control

¨ Be aware of your physical actions. Avoid actions that might be interpreted as aggressive such as shadowing the student if he or she leaves the room. Don’t use a harsh or demanding voice. Don’t stand over a child to establish dominance. Don’t point your index finger. (I have a ten-year-old and have to really watch this myself.) Don’t stand with your hands on your hips or make a fist. Don’t put your face close to the students. Do sit at eye level with the student. Keep your hands either in your pockets or at your sides and relaxed.

¨ Be patient; learning self-control can take a long time.

It is also recommend that parents and teachersbecome aware of their own triggers.The author was raised to eat what ever was put in front of him and to value work highly. As a consequence, some of his triggers are picky eaters or sloths.

For some people poor manners or impudence may be a trigger. Remember your students or children will know your triggers even if you don’t. Don’t fall into the trap of saying “I am right and they are wrong.” The question is not whether or not the student should do a particular thing, but how the...

Helping Kids Behave Part Five
Helping Kids Behave Part Seven
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