Here’s a video Dr. Sutton originally posted on his YouTube channel in 2009; it has drawn a lot of traffic and interest. It’s on a topic that continues to frustrate and confuse a good many folks as they attempt to work with a child that’s angry … and chooses to stay that way.
In other words, angry behavior is self-reinforcing as it creates “benefits” for a youngster. For instance, the child or teen who’s uncomfortable with peers being close to them might engage in behaviors designed to push others back to a more “comfortable” distance. If closeness bothers a youngster enough, any behavior that is obnoxious enough to produce the distance probably will be repeated. It’s tough on one’s social life, but it provides immediate relief.
(Although we’re talking about kids here, there are plenty of adults who do the very same thing, aren’t there?)
Consequence for poor behavior won’t do much to slow down a youngster who acts out to achieve relief. After a behavioral episode, this youngster easily can tell you all about the consequences to follow. For that reason, piling on more consequences isn’t always the answer.
I made this video in 2009 to better explain the characteristics, issues and behaviors of anger in young people, to share why I believe they are sometimes so resistant to change, and to offer insights into how we can better address the needs of the chronically angry child or adolescent.
The blog, ebook and newsletter mentioned at the end of the video have all been combined into this site, The Changing Behavior Network. The website is correct [link]. An updated telephone number is on the website.###
Dr. James Sutton is a nationally recognized psychologist that started out as a Special Education teacher. He is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. His current book project, Improving a Youngster’s Self-Esteem (revised), is soon to be released through the Network.