Challenging Behaviour…Really! Looking beyond the behaviour and lose the word “challenging”

Hi folks, I came across this YouTube video over the weekend and it really resonated with me.

I received the link to the video from Dr Bruce Perry who I do follow on social media and is a specialist in the field of neuroscience and trauma, I would really recommend his book “The boy who was raised as a dog”.

On Friday 16th September I was very fortunate to be able to attend a seminar delivered by Jonny Matthew at the NWG Office in Derby. The seminar was for youth justice intervention for professionals, but what struck me was the link between anxious behaviour exhibited by young people in the youth justice system and some of our young people who have been victims of trauma and serious child sexual exploitation.

In this video J Stuart Albon talks about how children will do well if they can, this phrase was originally coined by Dr Ross Green and this video talks a bit more about how we can all look at anxious behaviour through a different lens. In the school world if a child is struggling academically they are sometimes given labels such a learning difficulties and can access different levels of support, however if a child is struggling with anxiety or experiencing difficult emotions and displays anxiety based behaviour they are then labelled as having challenging behaviour, this effects the way adults view children and the label “challenging behaviour” in my view is always seen in a very negative and sometimes derogatory way.

Within the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 0-25 years (by the way which is statutory guidance) when we are looking at getting support for children at school who are struggling with learning we look at four domains, sensory and physical needs, cognition, communication and more importantly social, emotional and mental health. We really need to add anxiety and emotional behaviour to the list of “learning difficulties” in order to get our children and young people the right support at the right time and view them as other children with specific needs and please do away with the label of challenging behaviour!

Please do click on the link below to view the YouTube video and then take time to reflect on the video and question the attitudes of professionals about how they view our children and remember “children will do well if they can”

Kev Murphy

Education and Community Lead

CSE Response Unit

NWG Network.