This book first came out almost 10 years ago. And while there's a lot that could be updated, especially with the violence in the past few years, a lot of this information is still useful.
In the wake of school tragedies and the growing concern about creating safe environments for children, teachers, parents, and school personnel, this resource provides practical techniques and guidelines for de-escalating aggression with insight and finesse rather than with force. Andrea Madea explains how to manage aggression from tantrums to mental health issues and school shootings, using anecdotes, research-informed techniques, and, at times, humor.
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Sometimes it is hard as an adult to reach an angry child. They become like human walls of rage. Anything we throw at them just crashes or bounces right back at us. They can be difficult to diffuse, which is necessary to get them to listen to reason and to find their voices. In theory, we know this, already, but in the heat of the moment may forget. This book does a great job in helping to identify children who are overly angry, even if it isn't as apparent on the surface. Sometimes kids are silently angry, those still waters that are about to erupt like Ol' Faithful. It gives plenty of tips to help the angry child to calm down. (I love the example right in the beginning where the administrator used to trick a child into holding a stack of books for several minutes, forcing them to stabilize from their core and thus calm down. It's a great sensory trick.)
One important thing Andra points out is for teachers to also be aware of their own moods. If you are in a bad mood, chances are the kids are going to pick up on it and feed off of it. One of our fundamental lessons in Montessori training is to "Know thyself." Learn what makes you tick and find strategies to help yourself calm. Learn how nonverbal cues send authoritative and submissive messages. This book provides some fun ways to find balance.
It is broken down into easy-to-read sections, complete with examples of escalating situations and tried-and-true tricks to help diffuse those situations. At the end of each chapter is a helpful recap. The end has a comprehensive list of resources. The final chapter talks about handling completely escalated situations, such as Columbine or Newtown. This chapter would make for an excellent start for a seminar or lengthy full staff meeting in schools, to prepare for such an event to take place. It's not a pleasant conversation, but one that should be had, just in case.
I would actually recommend this book to anyone who has to deal with children on a regular basis. Yes, it is geared toward teachers who are trying to handle difficult children and sometimes difficult situations with parents. A lot of the advice within can be implemented at all times in the classroom. Even seasoned veterans may find something new to try, or else have an old idea sparked again, that they haven't tried in a while. Parents and other caregivers can also learn a lot about navigating those difficult waters with children.
I received a requested review copy from Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.