Safety management plan: challenging behaviour

This section deals with incidences where the child or young person exhibits challenging or aggressive behaviours. Rather than being a symptom of mental illness, this typically results from the child or young person being bored and confined to the ward area.

  • It is important that clear boundaries are established from the beginning detailing expectations, rewards and consequences.
  • A key principle of a safety management plan is to keep yourself and others safe. If a child or young person exhibits challenging behaviour then it is important to try and de-escalate the situation and to remove or resolve the triggers.

The following strategies should be used:

  • Provide the child or young person space. If necessary ask team members to clear the area or take them to a more private area.
  • Use non-verbal strategies such as having an open and relaxed posture, making eye contact but do not stare at them, and actively listen to their concerns.
  • Use verbal-strategies such as offering reassurance or questioning to change or distract their train of thought
  • Negotiate solutions and show empathy. For example, if the child or young person wants to have a cigarette, offer nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or other appropriate stop-smoking strategies

What if these strategies fail?

  • If you believe that the child or young person is putting themselves or anyone else in danger then don't hesitate to call your security department.
  • You may also feel that it is appropriate to have the police to assist you, such as if the child absconds.
  • You should not tolerate behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable or in danger. Always follow your local Aggression, Violence and Harassment (AVH) policy which is available from your Hospital Trust.
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