Topic: Challenging Behaviors

When Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) Underlie Problem Behaviors

Four-year-old Wyatt was struggling in preschool, suddenly defying directions, and demanding more attention than usual. Nap time became a particular challenge. He would slither on the floor, trying to avoid his cot, in the process disturbing others trying to sleep. Frustrated, his teachers would ask him to stop bothering others, giving him few minutes to […]

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What We Can Learn from a Seven-Year-Old’s Arrest

A Florida elementary school made national headlines after video emerged of a police officer hauling off a seven-year-old boy in handcuffs. According to reports, a teacher had scolded the child for playing with his food in the cafeteria and the boy reacted by lashing out at the teacher, repeatedly striking and kicking her. By the […]

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Why Preschoolers Shouldn’t be Suspended or Expelled: Lessons from Neuroscience

Luke struggled to get through nearly every day at his preschool. The four-year-old had difficulty sitting still and following directions, and when teachers reprimanded him, he usually responded by hitting something or someone. The more they admonished him, the more disruptive his behaviors became. Finally, the school ran out of options and suspended him. His […]

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A New Lens for Understanding Behavior Problems

Six-year-old “Yvonne” was an only child and the apple of her parents’ eyes. After she was diagnosed with developmental differences, they enrolled her in a preschool class that included typical children as well as those with special needs. She did so well that the following year she moved to a mainstream kindergarten class. Just a […]

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Sensory Processing and Challenging Behaviors: Below the Iceberg

Grant, age four, was asked to leave two preschools because of misbehavior. With tousled brown hair, big brown eyes, and a playful spirit, he both charmed and confused most of the adults in his life. He had such difficulty following directions that his teachers had to reprimand him every few minutes. They described him as […]

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What to Consider before Starting Childhood Behavioral Therapy

Aly’s sleep problems were becoming so challenging that now her parents were losing sleep. For years, the five-year-old had woken up several times nightly. When a pediatrician’s advice failed to alleviate the problem, her parents sought help from an agency that offered their daughter sleep training using a behavioral approach. After just three weeks, Aly […]

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The Key to Improving How IEP Teams Support Children’s Social and Emotional Needs

Since his first day of kindergarten, “Justin” had struggled to manage the demands of his new school. When teachers asked him to transition from one activity to the next, he would often fuss, kick or run away. He routinely “overreacted”  to simple tasks and activities, and it seemed that no matter how much praise, or […]

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Why It’s a Mistake to Prioritize Behavior Goals Over Social-Emotional Development

It was almost dinner- time, and little “Max” was hungry and tired. After a busy and active afternoon, he was in the midst of a lengthy home session with his behavior therapist when his mother stepped in the door from work. Smiling with delight, the boy instinctively ran toward the door to offer a greeting, […]

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Deconstructing Oppositional Defiant Disorder

By the time Stuart hit second grade, his teachers had pegged him as a “problem child.” They knew he came from a loving home and could discern right from wrong, but still, he frequently started fights and caused classroom outbursts. By tenth grade, he had been in and out of various therapies and special schools. His […]

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