Dr. Kaye Otten has assisted children with behavioral challenges for over 20 years. But she didn’t set out to tackle this niche area of education at the onset of her career. She began her professional journey working as a second grade teacher in the midwest. While she may have anticipated a collection of mild-mannered and reticent students in her classroom, she was instead endowed with a classroom that contained heavy proportions of children with problematic behavior. In order to thrive at her place of employ, she began to immerse herself in the study of behavioral issues to decode the complex matrix of problematic behavior. Today, Dr. Otten holds a P.h.D. in special education works as a consultant for school districts and teachers to help guide the process of curbing and controlling difficult behavior. She has credentials in teaching early childhood, elementary, and special education in several states.

In her latest book, “How to Reach and Teach Children with Challenging Behavior,” Dr. Otten provides a lengthy framework, replete with concise and clear explanations, regarding the process of dealing with children who are prone to misbehavior. During our interview, Dr. Otten explained a number of key principles, including the notion that suspension at schools is a poor form of punishment. What she encourages instead is specialized forms of in-school suspension that focus on modeling and reinforcing positive forms of behavior.

One of the main points in her book is that proper socialization education is a cornerstone of good behavior. Dr. Otten explained how social education and integration can be tackled, and moreover, why it is so important to the behavior equation. We also touched on the value of executive functioning abilities and how they influence the way children feel at school.

Lastly, Dr. Otten noted the importance of choice. All people want to feel empowered in some way. When given no options or alternatives, students can often feel trapped. This feeling lends itself to disobedience and acting out. Accordingly, she recommends always providing options for individuals, no matter how trivial, so that some feeling of autonomy can exist. To reach out to Dr. Otten directly, email her at kayeotten@mac.com. Make sure to check out the entire episode to snag all the valuable nuggets of information from this seasoned education professional.