Message from the Executive Director

Perspectivei30j "Aggressive Behaviors and Self-injury"

@This time, Ifll talk about problematic behaviors, so to speak, and especially aggressive behaviors and self-injury. The term problematic here means there is a problem which should be solved. These behaviors appear in early childhood, but we tend to focus on how to stop them instead of understanding and approaching the reason behind such behaviors, because adults are still strong enough to stop them. However, in young adulthood when children grow up physically and get stronger, it cannot be controlled with only strength. In thinking of it as a problem which we should solve, it gets more and more difficult to understand the individualfs mind. The individual and their family are forced into a difficult situation. How can we avoid such circumstances?

@Just because they have behavioral problems does not mean that they are a gspecial personh who cannot connect with other people. They have their own will and emotions. If a human is essentially in a state of inner calm, they should not hurt other people or desperately fixate on things. Therefore, it is necessary to shift our attention to the personfs whole life, consider whether there are factors which provoke anxiety and reluctance, and deal with them. There are several steps to control negative emotions such as discomfort, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and anger autonomously. Behaviors such as hitting, biting, and head-butting are considered as a desperate appeal, feelings of wanting to communicate their feelings to someone, and a result of not being able to express well with words and gestures. You can understand well if you reason that the pain felt by the person hit is the pain the individual wanted to communicate. Also, self-injury such as hitting/scratching onefs body, etc., can be considered as anger and frustration internalized, because deeply negative emotions have not been properly accepted. The greater the anger and frustration, the more power needed to deny them, and it turns out that the individual hurts themselves even more in response. There are some people who say, gSelf-injury is better than attacking other peopleh, or gSelf-injury is pleasurable for themh, or gThey donft feel painh. However, I have to say, these are false perceptions.

@It is difficult for staff and guardians to accept aggressive behaviors and self-injury in a calm way, but it is important to understand the meaning behind them and the appropriate way to deal with it. An eye-for-an eye reaction ends up creating new problems. It is so important to keep understanding the background of their behaviors and dealing with them so that they can feel safe or understood, and happy that they were understood. In our experience, problematic behaviors certainly improve through this kind of support. It takes a lot of time and effort at that stage of their youth and adulthood, because it is necessary to unravel the accumulated sense of distrust and anger towards people. However, we believe we can certainly improve the situation faster and avoid a serious situation where individuals are driven to extremes, if we keep approaching them from childhood with respect towards their intentions and feelings.

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