Early on in my pregnancy with my fourth child, I was punched. I turned so I got it in my back instead of the gut that it was going for. Thankfully, everything was okay and it didn’t have a negative impact on my pregnancy. Here’s the thing, though. The 10-year-old that threw the punch truly had no idea that he was punching me. This boy was known for having bad behavior. He was having a moment of rage, ran out of the room he was in, and I was there. It was as if I was a wall or a pillow. Afterward, he had no recollection of it happening.
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I adored this kid! I know he thought I was alright as well. He spent much of his school days with me at the time. Sitting in a regular class was extremely difficult. He had a number of diagnoses, but that isn’t the point. He will always be a fellow human being first and foremost. This was his first year in many that he was transitioned back into a “regular” school. That year was 2009.
Recently, when out for my daily walk, I heard, “Hey!” I looked over to see that same former student, the one known as being one of the severe behavior kids, looking at me. He was out for a walk all geared up with tools for bird watching. In the conversation that followed, he explained that he is studying to be an ornithologist and has already identified 138 bird species in the area. I’m being honest when I say that this was the first time I had ever heard that word. However, his general demeanor and how he carries himself today impressed me much more than the word ornithologist!
The American Coot is one of the birds my former student identified for me during our conversation.
We chatted for about 10 minutes. My heart was singing the entire time as well as for the rest of my walk. I love stories of individuals overcoming… surpassing who too many professionals assume they are doomed to become… overcoming learning obstacles to pursue their interests and dreams… overcoming who society believes the typical person their age should be and simply be themselves instead.
An Analogy Between Rotten/Bad Behavior and Household Fruit
I compare this to the rotten banana that recently sat on my kitchen counter. I can choose to simply throw out the banana and give up on it right away. Another choice I can make is to leave the banana on the counter to rot more and continually comment on how rotten it is, that it is getting worse and worse, believing nothing can be done and that it is meant to be. I can choose to freeze it for later use for things such as baking. Another choice I have is to value it for what it is and work to turn it into something even better! Is it any wonder my family loves banana bread so much? 😉
Just as a rotten banana is viewed as a gift in my household, so should each and every child, whether “rotten” or not. It is all in the view we choose to take and the approach that follows. One thing is for sure… giving up on these individuals struggling with bad behavior is not an option! Doing what we can to show we are willing to help them and that we believe in them is! It is of tremendous importance that we look for the good and embrace it!
Sam’s story below is more evidence as to why it is important to focus on the good and on what the individuals care about.
Resources to Try
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about supporting children in working through and preventing meltdowns that may be helpful. I recommend resources within that post that are worth checking out if working with children known as having bad behavior. Other resources not mentioned in that post that I recommend are as follows:
For Toddler/Preschool Children:
Elizabeth Verdick’s Best Behavior Series board books can help work through difficult behavior in toddlers and children in their early years. Titles include Teeth are Not for Biting, Feet are Not for Kicking, Voices are Not for Yelling, Calm Down Time, and Sharing Time.
For 6-11 Year Olds:
Elizabeth Verdick also co-authored How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger. This book is a Laugh and Learn book designed for the children to read independently.
Many meltdowns and outbursts can have an anxiety root. A friend of mine recently attended a workshop with Lynn Lyons. As someone who has struggled with anxiety herself, she couldn’t recommend highly enough that I take advantage of any opportunity I have in the future to attend one of Lynn’s workshops. Lynn has created a few resources. With Reid Wilson, Lynn co-authored Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children. This book is for parents to read in helping them to support their 8 to 18-year-old child.
The companion book to Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents that is more for tweens/teens to read for themselves is Playing with Anxiety: Casey’s Guide for Teens and Kids.
How About You?
Have you ever come across someone that was known for having bad behavior that was able to turn their life around for the better? Do you have any tried and true strategies or resources that you have used for working with individuals who get explosive at times? Please share in the comments below. 🙂