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Some children and young people with additional needs may display behaviours that challenge those around them, as a way of communicating when their needs aren't being met.  These behaviours (sometimes known as 'distressed' or 'connection-seeking' behaviours) might include things like:

  • aggressive outbursts
  • being destructive, or
  • behaving in ways that are considered anti-social (like spitting, or removing clothes). 

It can be a stressful time and no-one is to blame: behavioural problems can happen in children of all ages and at all developmental stages.   

When should I be concerned about my child's behaviour?

Most kids have tantrums sometimes. But if they start to happen more regularly, it could be a sign that there's an underlying cause, especially in a child older than 8. You need to seek help particularly if the outbursts are dangerous to your child or young person, or to others, if it is causing problems at home and school, or if you feel that they have no control over their anger. 

Getting support for you, your child and your family

Tips and advice from other parents

  • Try to focus on praising any and all good behaviour.
  • Give your child time and space once the explosion has happened.
  • Keep a diary of events and try to work out what the trigger is - what happened before the behaviour?
  • Give yourself more time when you're going places.
  • Look at the resources and courses on the Yvonne Newbold site.
  • Join parent support groups as you can learn so much from other parents going through the same things.
  • Get support for yourself wherever you can, so that you have the energy to help your child.
  • Be kind to yourself and know that you are not alone on this journey.

"I thought the courses would be judgy and old fashioned, but actually they were ground breaking. That positive support language was amazing."

Mum of young boy with Down's Syndrome

 

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Parents tell us that some of the most valuable support they receive is through closed facebook groups where parents and carers can ask for advice (anonymously if they'd prefer) and share and receive support from other parents and carers who are in similar situations.  There are many of these groups out there. Some Hertfordshire groups who support parents of children and young people with SEND are: Families in Focus,  SPACEAdd-Vance, or Angels.

Getting support for the whole family

When a member of the family is struggling to cope with life, and is displaying behaviours that challenge, it can have a big impact on other members of the family too, including siblings.  It can affect their wellbeing and mood, their social life, and their school work. Young Carers can offer social, emotional and practical support - and someone who will talk to them about their feelings and experience.

Support at school 

If you are concerned about your child's behaviour at school, your first step should be to talk to your child's class teacher or to the school SENCo about your worries.

Every school should have their behaviour policy on their website.  If you feel that your child's behaviour is not being managed in accordance with their policy, you can raise your concerns with your SENCo or Headteacher. Most schools use the 'Hertfordshire Steps' approach to positive behaviour management, an approach that prioritises emotional wellbeing and aims to explore, identify and understand the causes of poor emotional wellbeing. You can read more about the 'Steps' approach in the Hertfordshire Emotional Wellbeing and Behaviour Strategy 2020-23.

Family Support Workers

Some schools have Family Support Workers who are linked to the school, and work with families to support them in managing challenging behaviours at home.  You can speak to your SENCo about whether you are able to get support from a Family Support Worker. 

The Speech, Language, Communication and Autism Team

Sometimes a child's behaviour might be related to an autism or communication need.  If your child's inability to communicate their needs in the classroom is impacting on their learning experience at school, the Speech, Language, Communication and Autism team may be able to help. Your SENCo can refer your child or young person to this team. 

The SLCA Team Advice Line
Discuss your concerns with a professional from the SLCA team.
Tuesday and Wednesdays 1.30 - 4pm (term time)
01442 453920.

Educational Psychologists

Educational Psychologists (known as EPs) use psychology to support the learning, development and emotional wellbeing of children and young people.  

EP Contact Line
If you feel that your child or young person's behaviour is due to an unmet emotional need, discuss your concerns with an EP.   
Wednesdays 2 - 4.30pm (term time)
01992 588574

  

Services your child can be referred to


Organisations that can help

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation provide practical information for families and professionals about understanding and supporting children, young people and adults whose behaviour challenges.

Find advice and support from Mencap about challenging behaviour and learning disability

The NAS has a lot of information to help understand behaviour of children and adults with Autism.

The Down's Syndrome Association offers information, advice, strategies (including Positive Behavioural Support) and courses for parents and carers of children with Down's Syndrome.


 

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