A child’s behaviour can vary across different situations depending on how challenging the situation is, in addition to the level of boundaries that are in place. Some children have very challenging behaviours at home, whereas at school they are well behaved. This is often due to the more rigid boundaries, clear expectations of behaviour, and clear punishment systems in place at school. Conversely some children are well behaved at home where there are few expectations in regards to challenging work, but can become very defiant or shut down in the classroom. Other children through various underlying weaknesses learn from a young age that in today’s society the current acceptable punishments (removal of TV, computers, iPads etc) can easily be lived with, and that the alternative (eg. doing chores or homework) actually feels worse than the punishment. These children often look like they do not respond to traditional reward/punishment systems.
Working with children’s behaviour is often about understanding the core thoughts underlying their behaviour, and then giving a child more helpful alternatives that make sense to them. This often requires therapy directly with the child, whilst at the same time looking at parenting/teaching tools and coming up with a system that the child will respond to.
Assessment of behaviour involves talking with both the child (when old enough) and the parent to understand the current systems and the reason for why they are not working. If issues are noted at school, a school meeting can be arranged. Therapy is then conducted to address both the child’s cognitions as well as the behaviour systems so that effective and consistent strategies are established.
As part of our assessment we can diagnose:
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Conduct Disorder
- Intermittent explosive disorder
- OR, whether these issues may be related to a developmental disorder like Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)