When a child always assumes the worst…

(One minute read)

I was doing a school evaluation on 5-year old David who had a history of lots of aggressive and hurtful behaviors, and then the bell rang. The teacher called up one row at a time so that the students would get their coats. Suddenly, David grabbed Sophia, a petite sweet classmate, and knocked her to the ground. When the teacher asked Sophia what happened, she said that she saw David’s coat, took it from the hook, and handed it to him. When David was asked what happened, he said that “Sophia was stealing my coat so I hit her!!!!!!”

The teacher confirmed that David often assumed the worst intentions in other children and felt rightfully entitled to hurt them. This happened way too often.

What do you do when a child misreads cues and assumes the worst?
One of the strategies we use is to teach kids about RED Thoughts and GREEN Thoughts. When we think RED thoughts, we’re likely to end up doing red behaviors, but when we think GREEN thoughts, we’re more likely to calm down and do greens. (This is classic CBT in a kid-friendly version.)

Worksheet Before:
The child is presented with lots of possible thoughts about the given situation. The child can also add their own thoughts to the sheet.

Worksheet After:
Using red and green pens or markers, the child draws red and green clouds around the various thoughts depending on whether the thought is red or green.

Even if the child can’t read, we read the thoughts to them and they got to color the thought according to the correct answer.

Have a successful and calm week!

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