Respond to the following scenario.
You have been working with a six-year-old female whose parents have recently divorce. She has developed behavioral problems in school. During a usual school day, she is placed in time out at least three times for hitting or kicking other children. The principal demanded that the child receive counseling in order to prevent these behaviors from occurring again. Besides the divorce, the child’s grandmother recently died and was very close to the child. She asks to see her grandmother daily despite being told of the death. In your discussions with the child’s parents and teacher, you further learn that she is struggling with the most basic academic work such as learning to read.
What proposed plan of treatment would help the client to change the target behaviors?
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Given the number and type of huge life-changes this child has had to face recently, no wonder she is not interested in behaving well or learning. In between the divorce and the death, she's seen her entire world fall apart. She needs help in sorting out feelings that could include anger, fear, abandonment, frustration at her powerlessness in the face of the changes, and inability to focus on academics due to all the other things going on in her life.
She is going to need counseling to help her work through the multitude of emotional concerns. From a behavioral standpoint, a daily recordkeeping system could be instituted to track amount of time behaving appropriately with rewards given for specific periods of time accomplishing specific goals.
For example, a chart on a corner of her desk could allow for a tally every time she hits or kicks a child. If she keeps the chart clean for a given period of time (start short - maybe all morning or all afternoon?), she may have the last ten minutes of the day taking part in some activity that she has chosen as a reward (free play corner, being read to by a caring volunteer, computer time?).
I would also explore the possibility of instituting some bibliotherapy, perhaps using a parapro or volunteer to share in reading very easy books about the death of a grandparent with her, followed by very gentle and sensitive opportunities to talk, draw, make music - whatever will help this child begin to find new ways of remembering and honoring her grandmother's memory.
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