Sunday, August 26, 2007

Smarty Saturday Book Recommendation: What Do You Do With A Child Like This?

Because my Internet connection was down again yesterday, Smarty Saturday is on Sunday this week! You get two blog entries for the price of one, today!
The book for this week is What Do You Do With A Child Like This? by L. Tobin. The book is geared towards teachers who don't necessarily have training to work with kids with behavioral problems but find themselves working with such children anyway. However, the info in this book can easily be put to use by foster parents, social workers, mentors, parents, or other people who work with kids.
The book is organized into short, sweet little pieces of information... very easy to read and follow, even if you don't particularly enjoy reading!
A unique factor of this book is that, instead of dealing with the usual systems of rewards and consequences to deal with children with behavior problems, it explores the idea that every behavioral issue comes from an unmet need that a child is experiencing. The book then goes into how, instead of getting frustrated or dealing out a consequence, an adult working with a child can figure out what need the behavior is coming from, and then come up with a way to meet that need.
For instance, take the scenario of a child in a classroom who is constantly up out of her seat, moving around, not paying attention to the lesson at hand. Acording to the book, this child is probably expressing an unmet need for physical movement. The child may have a problem like ADHD which makes it literally impossible or very uncomfortable to sit still for long amounts of time... or she could have other issues, like living in a small apartment with a working mother who doesn't have time to take her out to run around and play.
The teacher wants to think of a way to redirect the child. Using other schools of thought, he could use a "natural consequence", like not repeating the information the child has missed when she is moving about the room, resulting in the child having to stay after school to get the information. Or he could use a "logical consequence", like moving the child's desk to the front of the room so he can keep an eye on her at all times. The teacher could even use a "tragic consequence"... the kind of consequence many of us as adults probably recieved in classrooms when we were young... which would be to take away the child's recess time or physical education time, giving her even less chances to get her physical energy out.
Or, the teacher could choose to give a "need-meeting consequence", like allowing her to go to the gym and run a few laps whenever she is seeming too antsy to sit still.
Of course, not all of the information in this book will apply to every adult and every child. Some people may find some of the information to be ridiculous! But I think that just about every adult who works with kids will be able to get a lot of useful information from the pages of this book.

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