Academic journal article Human Ecology Forum

Helping Troubled Kids Gain Self-Control

Academic journal article Human Ecology Forum

Helping Troubled Kids Gain Self-Control

Article excerpt

Emotionally troubled children in residential care facilities present a challenge for caretakers. There temporarily while social services departments counsel their families, they often strike out with little provocation. Residential care employees have to respond to these blowups without losing control themselves.

A therapeutic crisis-intervention system developed by the Family Life Development Center (FLDC) is teaching professionals how to defuse emotional crises and at the same time teach children self-mastery. The system, which is explained in a videotape and other training materials, was created by FLDC extension associate Martha Holden and former FLDC extension associates Michael Budlong and Andrea Moohey.

Many children in residential care facilities come from physically or emotionally abusive families and expect interactions with adults to turn violent, says Holden. "When something goes wrong or upsets them, their inclination is to overreact. Such responses also imitate how they've seen adults behave at home."

If emotionally charged incidents are simply ignored or dealt with by scolding, says Holden, "the result can be injury or a deterioration in the child's ability to cope with stressful situations."

A crisis is actually a good opportunity for caretakers to connect emotionally with a child. "When a crisis erupts and a child loses control, he or she feels isolated," Holden says. "At that point, a therapeutic response by a caring adult takes on great significance."

For caretakers to respond appropriately themselves, they need to understand the stages of a crisis and be prepared--which includes not taking it personally. …

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