MONDAY, AUGUST 1ST, 2016
Transitions are hard for kids with challenging behaviors. Transitions mean change, and kids with challenging behaviors tend to have a tough time with change. Kids in general like order. They like a routine and a predictable schedule. Kids with challenging behaviors need that predictability even more.
One of the most difficult transition times for kids with challenging behaviors is the beginning of the school year. Everything is new. The potential for difficult days is high. We call the first twenty days of the school year the "Red Zone." That "Red Zone" time for a student with challenging behaviors means extra challenges and the heightened potential for problems. Routines are unfamiliar, and expectations are not only new but sometimes confusing. Most problematic is the reality that adults who work with students with challenging behaviors may not yet have had the opportunity to build the kind of relationships so essential for working successfully with kids.
There are no simple solutions for dealing with the "Red Zone" time of year. Best practice would suggest trying to establish simple routines early and providing plenty of positive reinforcement when and where appropriate. Most important is allowing extra time and opportunities for personal interaction and relationship building with instructional staff. Early in the school year, relationship building trumps almost everything else. And building those relationships will likely help both the student with challenging behaviors and the staff to make it through the "Red Zone" successfully together.