Dealing with difficult behaviour is a two-way street. It can be challenging for both the recipient and the person displaying the behaviour. We must learn to take special care when these situations arise to ensure an amicable solution is always found no matter the environment. Certified care training is recommended when it comes to person-centred care.
Handling challenging behaviour at work
In the care industry, the side effects of many illnesses can often cause aggression. Staff need to be able to protect themselves and those they care for. Recognising and diffusing situations of challenging behaviour is part and parcel of the job.
The prevention of challenging behaviour has three tiers: primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. Ideally, primary prevention measures are put in place that significantly reduce the risk of challenging behaviours occurring. These are the responsibilities of healthcare organisations, staff and their patients, who need to work together to mitigate these challenges.
A significant part of primary prevention is developing a person-centred approach by establishing therapeutic relationships with patients. This is underpinned by the values of respect, self-determination and understanding.
Identifying possible triggers specific to each clinical area can alleviate issues. It may enable caregivers to empathise with individuals when such triggers cannot be avoided.
Secondary prevention measures are necessary when particular acts of violence and aggression are imminent. It is critical to identify the source of this behaviour. Many causes of aggression stem from unmet needs. If a strategy is in place to meet those needs, the assault cycle can be halted.
Care workers should be aware of the behaviours that may trigger their own anger to avoid conflict. These behaviours are likely to escalate rather than de-escalate a situation.
Build rapport and show empathy. Showing empathy and understanding appropriate patient behaviour and state of mind could be vital in finding common ground. Healthcare professionals should communicate honestly. A caregiver should tell a patient how they are making them feel, particularly if they appear intimidating, because causing fear may not be the person's intention.
Authentic engagement involves making a connection with the person, allowing oneself to be really seen and for them to see you.
When there is an impending risk of harm from violent behaviour, the purpose of intervention changes from de-escalating the situation to preserving the physical safety of those involved. Tertiary prevention may require the involvement of security staff. Other trained people could also assist in the management of violent incidents.
Managing challenging behaviour in children
Managing challenging behaviour can be incredibly stressful. With children, it can sometimes be even more of a handful. Children are more likely to behave in the way we would prefer when creating an environment that reduces opportunities for them to act out.
We are talking about an environment rich in age-appropriate, stimulating experiences while avoiding triggers for challenging behaviours such as tantrums, aggression and defiance. How do we create this environment?
1. Set clear rules and boundaries
Clear, reasonable, and meaningful rules help children understand what is expected of them and provides you with simple reminders to give to children before situations get out of hand.
Children will follow the rules if they feel an agreement has been met about this rule, rather than it being imposed upon them. Decide on the consequences for breaking these rules and always remember to stick to them.
Consequences need to be immediate to be meaningful. It is of the utmost importance that when enforcing rules and boundaries, caregivers are predictable and consistent.
2. Teach and support communication
Behaviour is a by-product of communication. Children typically behave in a certain way to tell us of their desires or emotional state. They may not possess the communication skills to tell us what is bothering them directly. Instead, they show us through their behaviour.
The goal here is to give them a more appropriate way to communicate as you support them in navigating the purpose behind their behaviour. This can be done using visual prompts. Another approach is to teach them specific skills, such as asking for help when faced with difficulty that would generally lead to frustrated outbursts.
3. Catch them getting it right
Children seek both positive and negative attention – be mindful of this and avoid getting sucked into the bad behaviour attention trap.
Rewarding is a useful way to influence specific behaviour. Offering a child meaningful reward, such as gold stars in school, can positively change their behaviour.
The different types of challenging behaviour
- Power seeking
- Attention seeking
The importance of managing challenging behaviour
The Challenging Behaviour Awareness course is useful in unlocking an understanding of the causes and preventive measures relating to volatile behaviour incidents. It is the responsibility of employers to keep their staff safe. The appropriate training in diffusing a situation could prevent care workers from ever physically having to defend themselves. What greater motivator could there be than the safety of those who care for the vulnerable? Prevention is always better than intervention.