Dealing with Bad Children part 3


Dealing with Bad Children part 3

Dealing with Bad Children part 3


I did get one terrible piece of advice, but it turned out to be very useful, when I tried doing the complete opposite.


It was a professor I had at West Chester University while I was getting my education degree who gave me that outstandingly bad advice. (I had many professors at WCU who were truly excellent. This one was not.)


I was working in a summer reading program with little kids. One of the first-grade children I was teaching there had been diagnosed as being hyperactive. This was my first experience with that, and I was not sure how to handle it. So I asked her how I should handle this boy.


She said that I should go easy on him; not expect as much from him as from the other, normal children.


So I tried doing what she suggested. It just made him worse.


He got so bad, the other kids started complaining about him. When that happened I realized that what she had said to do wasn't working. So I decided to try doing the opposite of what she said to do! I decided not to believe there was anything wrong with him. I decided I was going to believe he was capable of being just as good as anybody else, and not to treat him any differently at all.


Then a big change in his behavior began. It took a little while for him to realize what was going on, that I was treating him exactly the same as everybody else and like there was nothing wrong with him. Then he settled down and really did start acting just like everybody else! He actually got to be a fun kid to have around. Soon you could not have picked out which of the kids had been diagnosed as being hyperactive (it had been pretty obvious at the beginning). And it was all just because I decided not to believe there was anything wrong with him -- and he could tell that I believed there was nothing wrong with him and he could be just as well-behaved as any other child. He liked being treated just like everybody else, like he could be good, and he was happier.


Then they put him on Ritalin. That made me terribly sad when they did that to him. It completely altered his whole personality. I guess there are kids who have an actual chemical imbalance or something that does require medication, but he did not need it. He was perfectly capable of getting himself under control on his own; all he needed was to be given a chance and for someone to give him confidence in his own ability.


What I have found from all those situations is that the most important thing in dealing with bad kids is not seeing them as kids who want to be bad and have to be forced against their will to behave properly. What's worked for me is seeing them as kids who really want to be good and are just having a hard time being the way they want to be, and may even have been taught to lack hope in their own ability to be good. What they need is for people to have hope and confidence in them. Troublesome kids appreciate being seen that way.


Patient, Kind, and Enthusiastic Tutor with many years of experience



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