Life has a way of throwing obstacles into everyone’s personal journey and children with behaviour disorders have had their fair share of them. There is never a time when they are free from struggle, worry or change. If the brain interprets these obstacles as scary, neurological processes will freeze. The brain reacts to these events as fight or flight but also freeze. The process of adapting in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress becomes locked down. This adaptation is known as resiliency and it’s proficiency is based on skill mastery. When resiliency is destroyed or significantly depleted the human brain loses the ability to think. The required energy needed to make any necessary action for change is depleted or destroyed. If the child experiences enough adversity the resiliency process or coping process changes into that of a reactionary one based only on survival. This coping mechanism expresses itself as anger and aggression. Over time this then becomes an ingrained pattern which is extremely difficult to break
Resiliency is not just about bouncing back from trauma. It is about finding healthy ways to integrate these issues into one’s life and this ability is the foundation for quality and mortality. The child’s capacity to recover quickly from difficulties is linked to long-term success, health and happiness. Changing disordered behaviour takes hard work and the child’s success relies on the proficiency of their resiliency skills. Anyone with a healthy resiliency system can acknowledge difficult situations, keep calm, rationally evaluate what is happening and then make a plan to act on it. These are all skills necessary for children with disordered behaviour to relearn. Relearning how to be resilient also has the added benefit of teaching children to take responsibility for who they are and how they live. An unfrozen brain has the ability to see negative events for what they really are, how to react to them and whether or not to keep one’s composure.
Setting a goal for behaviour change is easy. The challenge for the child is determining if they and you are willing to accept the sacrifices required to undertake this change and for that you both need proficient resiliency skills. My book, Believe Children: Understanding and Help for Children with Disordered Behaviour details tips and techniques for helping to improve resiliency skills. Thereby, supporting any behaviour change they need and want to undertake.
Unless the child has the information on just what resiliency is, they will be unable to change destructive behaviour. Adults forget that information is not knowledge, they are two different things and so is knowledge and wisdom. It takes wisdom to determine what a child should learn and when they should learn it. If they can’t apply what they have learned then both you and the child are just wasting your time.