May 18


Extreme Measures for Extreme Behavior

In extreme cases, children lose all sense of boundaries and wantonly destroy property, defy teachers, assault peers, and even physically attack their parents. They are testing the ability of adults in their lives to provide external controls until they can internalize the ability to govern themselves. Monstrous behavior can happen when children are:

  • Not bonded with or have lost a bond with an important caretaker.
  • In an alliance with another adult against a parent.
  • Acting out rage against a parent who has violated or abandoned them.
  • Acting out rage against a caretaker with whom they feel safe.

It can be necessary to restrain these children until struggling gives way to crying and deep relaxation. The basic strategy is to create a “strait jacket” for children by crossing their arms and holding their hands from behind. Parents can straddle children without using their full weight or can wrap their legs around children to prevent them from kicking. The relative proportions of parent-child strengths and body builds make some positions more practical than others. If parents have any doubts about their ability to assume or maintain a position, they should wait until another adult is available to assist. When done properly, the parent appears calm, confident, and unemotional.

Subscribe to our newsletter now!