Have you ever heard these staff concerns?

Woman with Hands on Temples“If we stop giving severe consequences, chaos will break out. These kids will run wild, staff and kids will not be safe, we will not be in control.”


“This isn’t the real world. These kids need to learn that if they keep doing these things they will end up in jail. No one else is going to be this nice to them. We need to show them that this kind of behavior has to stop! How are the kids going to learn?”


“I barely have time for what I do now. We do not have the staffing to be talking to these kids or getting to know them all individually”

How can you respond to these staff fears?

Here are some tips:

Regarding the fear that chaos will break out if we decrease consequences:
• Is the only or main reason the kids don’t do bad things because of fear of consequences?
• When a child is emotionally dysregulated does he care about the consequences?
• Relationships have much more power than consequences in influencing behavior.
• Without relationships we have no power over another person
• If a person does not know how to do something, no amount of consequences will make him do it. When he masters the skills, he will want to do better and be able to.

About the “Real world”, It’s not punishing enough, it’s too nice.
• If the kids could handle the real world, that’s where they would be.
• In the real world there is the concept of a learning phase- like, in early Little League they don’t have a strike out rule. It gives kids a chance to learn skills and develop confidence
• If punishment would change them, you would think they might have changed by now. They have certainly been punished enough.
• They already know that doing these bad things (like hitting people) will get them in trouble and that their lives would go better if they did not do them. What they do not know is HOW to not do them.
• They need to learn skills that will enable them to react differently.

It will take too much time.
• Restraints, seclusions, and point sheets take a lot of time. If these decrease, more time is freed for interaction with the children.
• Task can be done in groups- such as weeding together.
• Power struggles eat up a huge amount of staff time. When we adopt a “working together to solve the problem and get the child what he needs” approach things move much faster.
• A strong relationship makes everything go more smoothly.

Programs that implement trauma informed care experience fewer power struggles, few restraints, and more positive interactions- both with clients and between staff!

Click below for a worksheet based on these ideas that you can use to start an honest dialog with your staff.

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What other concerns and resistances have you heard, or felt yourself? How did you respond to them? Add your comment below.

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