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Consequences: Adding Insult to Injury?

In his latest article for the New York Times, David Bornstein nicely articulates the effects that trauma, as well as chronic stress have on the behavior and learning of young children. He notes that children are frequently punished for misbehavior that they do not know how to control, which he compares to “punishing a child for having a seizure.”

He goes on to describe efforts across the country in which schools are finding ways to reduce stressors/triggers within a child’s school day, as well as ways to provide strategies for these students to more effectively manage stress.

We at Think:Kids applaud these efforts. And, we would like to see these practices taken one step further.  In addition to unilaterally reducing stressors and providing strategies, we know that involving the student in the problem solving process helps them develop the helping relationships which are crucial for a more positive outcome. Further, proactively problem solving specific unmet expectations, not only helps these students meet these expectations and reduce misbehavior, but it also builds the crucial thinking skills the students need to become self-reliant, independent, healthy adults.