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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

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De-escalation techniques for children with ADHD


My name is Kim and I'm a second year student at Mount Royal University in Alberta, Canada.

I had a situation last night at my practicum where a child (age 11) became physically aggressive and wanted to attack a volunteer serving the food.

Prior to that, the child came just in time for supper and after his first serving I sat and talked with him (because of another incident – him taking food from another child). He seemed really calm, and was not aggressive at all during our talk.

He started to line up for seconds, and he told me what he woud do in response to the prior incident. He still seemed calm then.

When he got the food, he refused it and walked away from the line. Afterwards, he started calling out names. I couldn't calm him down nor reason with him. Then he started going into the kitchen and his actions escalated and he was saying he wanted to inflict harm to the volunteer. The other staff and I had to use our bodies to block him from entering the kitchen, and it took us (2 staff and 2 of the child's friends) more than 15 minutes to get him away from the kitchen while trying to calm and pacify him (using low tone voices) which didn't seemed to work.

Later on, my co-worker said she saw how the volunteer may have escalated the situation and that the child has ADHD.

I don't think I am fully equipped working with children diagnosed with ADHD. My question is, if there is no way to prevent the situation from escalating because of other external factors (other people's behaviour), how else can I de-escalate a child whose emotions are high?

I would appreciate your input on this.

Thank you!


Hi Kim,

I must first say that I am not an expert on de-escalation, but perhaps this will help.

My experience is that very often situations become escalated because staff do not know how to respond and end up making things worse. However, it is also important to remember that children (and all people) respond to both external and internal stimuli, and you may not be able to de-escalate every situation successfully, because you do not always know what they are responding to – which may be internal triggers. There are however things you can do to reduce possible harm and potentially de-escalate.

I found a wonderful video on youtube that I show to everyone I can, it is really simple and anyone can learn this. There are much more sophisticated models and techniques out there, but this is a good start:

Most important, just learn from every situation. Make sure you reflect on what happened, why, how, etc. and what you would do different if you could. Everyone does the best they can with what they have, and the same goes for us.

Good luck,

South Africa

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