The Importance of Recognizing Change of Behavior for Teachers and Caregivers

by | Feb 24, 2024

No matter our age, our emotions tell a story. Recognizing changes in how kids and adults display their emotions gives us a clue that something is wrong or different. This tells us that we should ask about what is going on. This could be a problem at home, a problem with another student or resident, or even a First Aid emergency. In these cases, we need to act to care for that child, resident, or person. On the other hand, it could be a great thing that they are excited about that we should celebrate with them. 

Either way, sometimes people don’t know how to express what is going on and change of behavior is all we see. Change of behavior should be an indicator that we need to look into something because we don’t know what is going on until we ask. This is especially true when working with kids and seniors because the very old and very young sometimes don’t have the words to express things effectively or in some cases might not feel that others care and so hold things in instead of asking for help. 

What Happens When You Don’t Say Something When You Notice a Change of Behavior?

When you notice something different about a person in or around your life and don’t say anything, you miss what could be going on beneath what you see. What you are noticing is the what. That what could be bad behavior of a child or senior, someone not participating with the activity like they normally do, a child not showing up to school or showing up later than normal, or a million other things. Anyone can notice the what the what is easy to see. The why beneath the what is why you need to say something when you notice a change of behavior. Without asking questions, you miss an opportunity to care for the children or seniors entrusted in your care. Another way to say this is being a good steward of the opportunity. This also goes for anyone in your life. A good friend, teacher, or caregiver doesn’t let the whats go without learning the why.

Another way to say this is being a good steward of the opportunity. As a caregiver or teacher, you sometimes may feel like this is just a job, and yes, it is a job. However, doing things like this, where you take a moment to care for those entrusted in your care, turns your job into a calling. A calling to serve and help others, and for that, we are all grateful. Think about all of your favorite teachers; they are the ones that did things like this.

A note that, not every what leads to a why. However, most whats lead to a why even if it’s a small what. Either way, you will never know what is going on until you ask. This is hard to do well, and everyone—including me—will miss some of these, so don’t beat yourself up about when you miss something. This being said, try to be as intentional and aware as you can.

What Could Be the Whys?

The whys could be as infinite as the whats could be. However, they usually fall into the following categories. Note that this is not an exhaustive list, just some most common ones. 

  • Family
    • Family crisis
    • Change in family dynamics
    • Divorce 
    • Difficulty with family members
    • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Financial
    • A need for money
    • Not enough food
    • Insecure housing
    • Crime concealment
  • Social Factors
    • Inability to adapt to change
    • Physical, mental, or emotional disabilities (e.g., hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, learning or social disability, etc.).
    • Poor peer relationships
    • Drug / alcohol use
    • Gang or cult influence
    • Substance abuse by family members
  • First Aid Emergency
    • Concussion
    • Fracture
    • Sprain
    • High or low blood sugar for a diabetic 
    • Many other First Aid emergencies

As you can see, there are a ton of different things that could be behind the change in emotions or behavior we see on the outside. If we don’t look into those whats we would never know the why. You may not be able to fix the why, but you can make it better by having empathy for that person in a tough season of their life. Especially for children, they may have never gone through something like this tough situation they are going through at the moment before, and may have no idea how to process it. 

Don’t forget, changes could be a cry for help. A cry that they desperately need you to hear since they don’t know a better way to communicate.

How Does Recognizing Change of Tie into Fighting Against Abuse

Unfortunately, 1 in 7 children experience child abuse or neglect in each year in the United States, according to the CDC. Then for seniors, at least 10% of adults age 65 and older experience some form of abuse every year, according to the Department of Justice.

This is an unfortunate truth. However, you as teachers, caregivers, and directors may be the only person other than the abuser this child or adult might see on a regular basis. This means you have a unique opportunity to raise the red flag and get this person the care they need. Which again to raise the red flag, you have to notice the changes in how people act to even get the chance to help that person. 

So carry that weight not as a burden but as an opportunity to make a difference in the world: one child, student, resident, co-worker, and person at a time.

Next Steps for You

The most important next step is to keep your eyes open. If you are a Christian like me, that means to keep your eyes prayerfully open and to look where God may be leading you to step in and serve someone else. 

The next important step is to act. You may not feel equipped to act, but that’s okay. Ask people around you about what you noticed. Bring it to your manager, director, friend, or pastor. You don’t have to do it on your own. All you need to do on your own is raise your hand and say, “hey something isn’t how it should be”. Unfortunately, there is a lot in their world that isn’t how it should be and we will have to keep making things right one place and person at a time. Again, as a Christian, I pray and work towards on earth as it is in Heaven. Since Heaven is the only place that everything is as it should be. If you aren’t a Christian and want to know more about what that means, comment below or email me, and I’d love to talk more. 

Part of acting is knowing what to do to the best of your ability. For a life issue, the best thing is often to talk with the person. However, from a First Aid perspective, which is what we teach, it is important to know how to respond. Responding correctly can make all the difference in a First Aid emergency. To be prepared for these types of emergencies, taking a CPR and First Aid class with us is the best way to be prepared. You can request a class to be held at your facility here, join an online blended class here, or sign up for an in person class here.

If you have a story about how you have recognized a change of behavior and responded to it by helping that person, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

About First Response

First Response provides CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety training to clients across Georgia and South Carolina for over 23 years. We believe training should be relevant, informative, and fun! Feedback from our clients consistently shows that they not only enjoy our classes, they learn something new–even for folks that have taken the class many times before.

Contact us to book a class for your facility, or sign up for a class here.

About the Author

<a href="https://www.firstresponsecpr.com/blog/author/mattenser/" target="_self">Matt Enser</a>

Matt Enser

CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety Instructor

Matt has taught CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety courses for First Response since December 2018. He also coordinates much of the digital marketing and creative tasks. Outside of First Response, he can be found getting up in the mountains as well as serving in the local church.

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