Understanding and Supporting Behaviour
Challenging behaviour is defined as any behaviour that affects the physical safety of a person or persons putting them at risk of serious harm or injury that could place individuals in danger or jeopardy.
Four forms of challenging behaviour are:-
Self-harm, using sharp objects to cause injury e.g. cutting slashes skin to cause scars and bleeding. Withdrawn behaviours, such as; speaking behind a hand, non-verbalisation, having a hood over the head, hiding away in a room, or refusal to make eye contact. Aggression hitting out at others such as physical attacks screaming, shouting, spitting and punching. Sexualised behaviours e.g. Masturbation in public or inappropriate displays of sexualisation, unwanted touching or feeling, making unwanted sexual advances to people in public or private areas.
Any display of outward negative behaviour which results in damage to persons, property, buildings or possessions not belonging to the person displaying the challenging behaviour
The above behaviours are commonplace in a work environment for young people in care. Some of the young people have been exposed to the above by parents, carers, guardians or abusers throughout their lives - perceived as challenging because they are not acceptable to society norms.Young people come into care as a result of some form of breakdown in a stable family life, possibly exposed to violence, aggression, physical and emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and failure to thrive.
In a work setting young peoples behaviours are challenging because reactions by humans to heightened stressful situations can cause automatic bodily functions to take over, an adrenaline rush may occur and fight or flight overtakes. This feeling can be experienced when a situation arises that is chaotic or uncontrolled as described above. The flight or fight response, also called the "acute stress response" was first described by Walter Cannon in the 1920s as a theory that animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system. However whilst protecting oneself and assessing situations, there must be excellent communications skills, teamwork, clear and well-rehearsed strategies that can be utilised to enable workers to negotiate, listen and remain calm, which allows the young person to have an outlet to explore their feelings and behaviours to enable them to feel safe, the carer remains in control of situations that can lead to escalated harm or danger. The challenge comes from being able to maintain composure and de-escalating the situation when placed in stressful environments where a positive outcome is required for all concerned
Vygotsky’s theory of development
Vygotsky states cognitive development stems from social interactions from learning within the zone of proximal development as children and partners co-construct knowledge. For Vygotsky, the environment will influence how they think and what they think about. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978).
Applying Vygotskys theory to our work practice assists us in our de-escalation process by adopting the mind-set that the situation is being caused by processes that the young person may have learned from their environment. They may have had to shout and scream to be heard. Witnessed domestic abuse, been the victims of physical or sexual assaults, growing up in surroundings where everyone shouts at one another and there are no calm constructive conversations. There may be alcohol or drug users around young people. Very little social interaction due to parental lifestyles with no morality, life skills or prospects for change due to being raised in a chaotic home environment. Young people that display behaviours that are challenging weren’t born with these behaviours, there are factors discussed by Vygotsky that can give you a strategy when faced with a situation that could be challenging. Thinking quickly about why this crisis is happening,...
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