Children need love, care, and safety; they need families

The Greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell of fears...... And, with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with crime, guilt - and there is the story of humankind. John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dr. Fritz Redl and Dr. David Wineman - Their Classic Work on Treating Hurt Children

Dr.s Fritz Redl and David Wineman are considered by many, to be founders of the moment to treat hurt children with dignity, understanding, compassion, and love. 

Their classic books, collectively considered by some to be the "Bible" when it comes to working with challenging behavior, are Controls from Within: Techniques for Treatment of the Aggressive Child, and, The Child who Hates: a Sensitive Analysis of Anti-social behavior of Children in their response to the adult world.

Written over fifty years ago, these extraordinary works are still, a must read for anyone working with young people who exhibit behavior that today we diagnose as oppositional defiant, aggressive, or violent.

While we have some extraordinary journal articles, robust research, and literally hundreds of books and articles on helping hurt children, I think these classic works still stand out as important as we work to understand and treat those children who are in need of serious treatment.

A few of my favorite quotes from Redl and Wineman....

Remembering Fritz Redl: "'The children must get plenty of love and affection whether they deserve it or not: they must be assured of the basic quota of happy, recreational experiences whether they seem to have it coming or not. In short, love and affection, as well as the granting of gratifying life situations, cannot be made the bargaining tools of educational or even therapeutic motivation, but must be kept tax-free as minimal parts of the youngsters' diet, irrespective of the problems of deservedness' (1952)."

"We are against the application of physical punishment in any form whatsoever under any circumstances. Even for the normal child, we reject the idea that physical pain will 'teach' the youngster, that the entrance to the character of a child leads through the epidermis of the hind quarters, or that physical pain will solve things by giving the child the chance to pay for his sins and thus end his guilt feelings" (1952).

"Boredom will always remain the greatest enemy of school disciplines. If we remember that children are bored, not only when they don't happen to be interested in the subject or when the teacher doesn't make it interesting, but also when certain working conditions are out of focus with their basic needs, then we can realize what a great contributor to discipline problems boredom really is. Research has shown that boredom is closely related to frustration and that the effect of too much frustration is invariably irritability, withdrawal, rebellious opposition or aggressive rejection of the whole show."

While newer books may be more enticing, current in some respects, and appear more appropriate to our modern day, I think these classic works are worth delving into. They are a foundation upon which we can build a repertoire of skills, techniques, and approaches that can truly help a child heal!

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