msauro - you are right when you say "Part of this mood thing though was that the teacher kept making promises to him that she never followed through with". I've seen all these behaviour
s dealt with by proper therapy, but the biggest enemy is inconsitancy. It is important to choose your battles. It is also important not to forget to reward good behaviour
or simply show affection. It is so easy to do when a child's bad behaviour
over such a long period exhausts one. Life turns into a long set of battles where there is no energy left to be friends. However, if the affection isn't shown or praise not given then attention will be sought using any means possible. Children would rather have you angry at them than not pay them attention as they see it. If rules etc are incosistant then children will not learn, because they know there is at least some context in which they can use their current behaviour
to advantage. It is only when there is never advantage to a behaviour
and that there are alternatives that bad behaviour
s fall out of the repetoire. This brings another issue to mind, namely it is important for parents and any other care givers to be on the same page. If they are not it is a great predictor of problems. So, positions need to be worked through in advance by all involved. Choosing your battles is very important for the same reason. You must win if the child is to learn. You cannot, purely from an energy point of view if nothing else, win thousands of battles. So, if you try you will fail and the child will retain the negative behaviour
s. Furthermore, if everything with a child is a battle with a parent this leaves no space for positive experiences. This can lead to depression and low self-esteem. In those that are inclined towards "endogenous mood disorders" issues like this can help initiated the process.
With no particular reference to the individual cases above, any issues within the family need also be addressed because they frequently are sensed by children with issues and that has an impact on them for which they have poor capacity to address. So, periods of difficulty for parents such as bereavement are frequently triggers for periods of bad behaviour
. I have seen much footage of work carried out by The Tavistock Centre on children with such behaviour
s. Interestingly resolving the problem in a number of case was centred around dealing with unresolved grief in parents. Once resolved the childrens' behaviour
improved. The issue here was that grief had made one or both parents emotionally less available as the child saw it, and most of the interactions with the child focused on practical needs and controlling their behaviour
. The child then used bad behaviour
to regain what it percieved as lost affection. The parents then responded to the childs behaviour
thus rewarding it with attention. The child then learnt to use these behaviour
s as ways to achieve its ends. This is why the problem seems to get worse when there are chrisis such as sickness in siblings etc. The child senses the parent being preoccupied as a loss of affection. So, they go into their repetoire of bad behaviour
s. In 2 of the cases in the Tavistock material no treatment was given to the child at all, as once the grief was dealt with the parents became available at times other than when behaviour
s were bad. Obviously, with behaviour
s that have been longer standing more work would be necessary with the child. These observation are as true for other people in the childs life not just the parents. Hence, the need for consistancy.
As an aside on consitancy between parents, it is often the case that the correct consistant position is somwhere between the two. As both parents usually try to counter what the see as excess of the other. So, the parent who sets limits often needs to do more of the affection showing and reducing the number of issues for which they correct the child, while the other parent needs to uphold new agreed set limits and correct the child.
Whatever, the chemical nature of the moods, behaviours can always be helped by using such techniques as are mentioned above. Some mood issues add complexity such as a feeling of being remote often interpreted as a loss of affection or being judged negatively and can be delusional. However, the response of seeking attention through acting out is not different in most case [very rearely they are directed acts]. Furthermore, remaining in the same relations to the child during these periods can improve the outcome. Be affectionate, and show interest, and don't equate the behaviour with the entirity of the child's personality. Recall with him//her warm memories of shared joy and pride in the chilld from their past and how they still are your loved child. This dosn't preclude limits but choose the battles carefully. The majority of the interactions with the child should be positive from their point of view. The limits set can then be seen as reasonalble and are circumscribed. Hence the child knows it is the behviours that are being sanctioned not them [if they feel the later the behaviours will be hightened]. Futhermore, this positive element emphasises that they can get the attention without causing grief.
After many years dealing with acting out behaviours, I can assure you that if you persist that things can and will get better. Just don't try make it all rigth at once, but make the important things right first. Finally also remember to look after your own health needs as you need all the energy you have.
Post Edited (SMSIRL) : 5/30/2006 11:37:14 PM (GMT-6)