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Norwegian psychologists in Prague trained how to work with children with demanding behavior

Norwegian psychologists in Prague trained how to work with children with demanding behavior

Two Norwegian psychologists, Kaja Johanessen and Ann-Karin Nielsen Bakken from the Østbytunet Children’s Psychiatric Center, were finally able to come to visit us in early September after several postponement due to a coronavirus pandemic. We have been cooperating with both of them for a long time and were in mutual close contact during a two-year training on working with children with demanding behavior. During that time, we have visited the Norwegian training center.

The aim of their visit was mainly two events – a final two-day training for participants and a public seminar for students of the Faculty of Education in Prague, teachers and others interested in working with children with demanding behavior.

Final two-day training meeting

The participants of the training were already very much looking forward to a personal meeting with the lecturers. The subject of the final block was, among other things, the practice of de-escalation techniques that can be used in contact with a disturbed child. This part of the training was based on modeling different situations and personal experiences of the participants. They had the opportunity to try, for example, appropriate procedures for approaching a child and interrupting the ongoing conflict between children at the school desk. At the end of the two-day meeting, we jointly planned the next steps in the project – especially how and where the newly created educational program for teachers focused on working with children with demanding behavior will be piloted.

Public seminar at the Faculty of Education

The public seminar was intended not only for students of the faculty, but also for all pedagogical staff and social workers working with children and their families. The two-hour seminar was led by Ann-Karin Nielsen Bakken. Among other things, she introduced various de-escalation and regulation techniques that social and pedagogical staff can use to calm down in classrooms and other places where they work with children.

During the seminar, the lecturer presented examples of two children with traumatic negative experiences. One of them manifested itself more externalized (disturbing, it was aggressive), the other internalized (it seemed calm, but did not concentrate and lost contact with the environment). She then described how these children manifest themselves in five phases of stress activation: Calm – Vigilance – Anxiety – Fear – Fright.

In the end, they practically showed how to approach an upset child and how to calm him down using various de-escalation techniques. There was a lot of interest in the seminar, it was attended by several dozen students. After the presentation, a few questions followed.

If you were unable to attend this seminar, you can watch a video here:

We are very happy that, in addition to the training time, we managed to meet both Norwegian colleagues less formally. On Wednesday evening, we went for a short walk around Prague with them and ended it with a dinner together. Meetings and conversations with them are always very inspiring and beneficial for us. So we were very happy that there was room for them in their busy two-day program. In addition to meeting us, Kaja and Ann-Karin also met two journalists here. You will soon be able to read interviews with them in two Czech media. We will then definitely introduce you both here on our website and on social networks.

Both seminars were organized within the project Working with Children with Problem Behavior in the School Environment, funded by EEA Funds 2014-2021. We thank the House of Foreign Cooperation – DZS for their support.


public webinar How to reduce stress – and help yourself to maintain inner peace

public webinar How to reduce stress – and help yourself to maintain inner peace

On February 22, 2021, we organized a public webinar How to reduce stress – and help yourself to maintain inner peace (even during the COVID-19 pandemic) using knowledge about the functioning of the brain. Webinar was lectured by Mgr. Kristýna Farkašová, a participant in our training program focused on supporting of children’s mental health and the education of pupils with challenging behavior.

In times of pandemic, mental health care is essential, so the first webinar focused on the topic of maintaining inner peace in difficult times.

The first block started with the topic of stress and was focused on answering following questions: How we behave in stressful moments? Is there any “good” level of stress? What helps us to become resilient, instead of sensitive and more fragile? Whether we have the opportunity to choose our inner peace and know what supports it and what destroys it?

Several times during the webinar, participants were offered a safe space to think about the following questions: What is helping them at this time? When do they feel calm and rest? What little things help them to find balance each day? What do they need to remember to feel well in the world? We are important, it is impossible to skip our own feelings and focus only on of children.

“One of the ideas I learnt from our Norwegian colleagues is Bruce D. Perry’s reflection on the five states of mind. It shows how we can practically feel and act in the various states of our mind, how our possibilities to think freely, to think ahead gradually narrow. How much we need to understand in what state of mind the person / child we are working with is. So we don’t miss him/her and work with him/her according to actual state. Gradually, to help him/her to get through states of high activation back to calmness. And we need to keep ourselves calm so that we can help others find their peace thanks to our simple calm presence, ”said the lecturer.

The webinar also provided participants with practical tips on how to take care of their body, how to plan the day, so they could stick to the structure. The webinar received a lot of positive feedback. And although it was informative, the participants stated that they had rested during the event. Perhaps also because the intention was to strengthen the participants’ awareness that while we cannot influence how a pandemic will develop, we can influence a lot in terms of our own mood, our own balance and our own calmness.

How to survive the lockdown tips and the November meeting with Norwegian colleagues

How to survive the lockdown tips and the November meeting with Norwegian colleagues

Based on information from the September meeting with our Norwegian lecturers, we have prepared
and published the How to Survive Lockdown infographic, which provides tips on how to deal with the
limitations and uncertainty that we face in the current situation associated with the COVID-19
In November, through another virtual meeting, we focused on sharing and reconciling home-office
and distance learning, where parents are often exposed to increased stress associated with
reconciling their own work with supporting children in online teaching. We discussed number of
useful tips that can help parents as well as children. It is very important, for example, to have regular
and fixed moments of recharging "emotional batteries" during the day, when we give the child all our
attention and ensure that his emotional needs are met, for example by hugging or brief cuddling.
Thanks to these regular moments, the time when children can work independently is extended and
parents can thus fully concentrate on their own work.

We are preparing materials and meetings…

We are preparing materials and meetings…

We are currently translating a text of our Norwegian lecturers, which will become a key study script for teachers and other pedagogical staff who will be trained in the new educational programme. The purpose of the text is to help the trainees understand why even the best teaching methods offered by the current pedagogy fail when we are working with children suffering from developmental trauma. In the text, teachers will find valuable advice that can help them teach such children. Developmental trauma affects the development of the brain. Knowledge of the impact of childhood in fear and conditions of inadequate and insufficient care can help us understand why these children misbehave in school. Understanding the causes of challenging behavior of children with developmental trauma can help significantly and make teaching and caring for these children a little easier.

The script provides readers with information on procedures and measures that can help children with developmental trauma cope with daily schooling. It aims to provide a deeper understanding of the developmental trauma, its impact on children, and their education. It also contains practical recommendations on how to reduce the impact of trauma on the child’s education.

In September, we are planning to implement yet another two-day training in Prague, to which we again plan to invite (epidemiological situation permits) our Norwegian lecturers. Their visit will also include a seminar at the Ministry of Health targeting health and social services involved in the reform of mental health care. The seminars will also be attended by lecturers of lifelong education of pedagogical staff in matters related to the behaviour of children at school.

The planned two-day training took place online

The planned two-day training took place online

Like all of us measures restricting travel affected us at ČOSIV, so we had to replace the originally planned two-day training with our Norwegian lecturers in Prague to a virtual environment. We divided the training into three days to support the concentration of attention of the trainees. The training topic was more than suitable – the activation of the stress response system and the effects of stress on behavior.
The change of established habits and routines, combined with the uncertainty of what and how will happen next, has given us all an authentic experience of increased levels of stress. Nevertheless, we tried to maintain a positive mood and together we thought about how best to support children and teachers after returning to schools.