How Teachers Stop Childhood Anger Before it Starts
Building empathy is one of the most important first steps to preventing conflict in the future. Building empathy leads to behaviors that help people learn more effectively, reduce impulses, manage their anger and other problems that lead to abuse. Dr. Dolores Kholodenko is the Director of the Charlotte Child and Youth Service Training & Employment Program in North Carolina, where she teaches teachers and adult educators to teach children how to reach personal resolutions and stop engaging in extreme behaviors and pathologies in the classroom. Along with many other leaders, she also publishes Mediate.com, an online forum that brings together a large community of readers, ranging from parents and educators to law enforcement officers and pharmaceutical representatives, with questions about conflict, cognition, and behaviour.
In her Psychology of Violence Training Methodology she teaches young children the art of using non-violent self-defense skills and interventions in the first grades, where conflicts are most likely to arise. Children learn about their own emotional states, the response to external stimuli and norms, the power of hierarchy, appropriate and inappropriate communication, respect for others, conflict negotiation and more. A typical intervention might include developing a strategy of actionable self-control skills for children, while creating a climate for conflict resolution.
Kholodenko uses four different educational tools to help teach her students (and others) about conflict resolution: Effective Self-Resolution Information Information System (ESRIC), an information system that teaches children to constructively learn their emotions and put the understanding into actions so that the child can build a co-learning habit; Behavior Action Plan (BAP), an evaluation system that evaluates children’s abilities for personal resolution of conflict in individual, class and conference settings; Behavior Action Plans, a practical plan to help children resolve conflict through a variety of self-limiting behavior modification techniques; and The Night Walk or Surprise (KHNY), a multidimensional program of post-discharge support and life skills to help self-control disorders heal.
She also advocates a self-discipline movement, which consists of teaching a small group of children (from age 5-9) healthy ways to manage their impulses in order to achieve their intended goals.
Kholodenko is often asked by groups of teachers and parents about the best ways to prevent anger and anger-related problems in school. Kholodenko’s tip is for children to remember that they are protected from harm by their parents and their own set of emotions. When someone else comes at them in a situation that could be threatening to their health or safety, they should be able to retreat and analyze any relationship-related reasons that could justify a violent response. In other words, “Don’t say anything because you can’t take that one again.” Before a child reacts to another with violence, Kholodenko recommends establishing a conversation about what to do in the unlikely event of an attack, when they can spare their self-control and self-respect, and under what conditions in their lives this behavior would be justified.
“One of the primary goals of my program is to begin teaching children from a young age, how to interact with their friends, how to respect their friends and not be a jerk, how to respect their parents and avoid making them feel bad about themselves or their parents, and about how to stop the behaviour of their friends or loved ones that requires verbal violence,” says Dr. Dolores Kholodenko.