Troublesome Tantrums & Toy Cashiers: Lessons on Behavior Management

toy cashier for Lauren's blogBy Lauren Carufel-Wert — After my first day at the job, let’s just say I was not looking forward to the next one.

But I told myself I needed to keep going. I couldn’t quit on my first day. I thought, “It can’t get worse, it has to get better.”

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Each day that week seemed to get progressively worse. I found myself more often than not outside in the hallway with two students in particular that we’ll call Jack and Max. Both Jack and Max are African-American and marked as having disabilities. Their IEP’s also noted Jack and Max can be physically aggressive.

Unlucky for my co-leader and I, their IEP’s proved to be true.

Jack struggled with controlling his aggressiveness more so than Max. Jack got mad at the flip of the switch, taunted the other children, and felt offended quickly. At one point he threatened a kid, telling him he would punch and beat him up, and then proceeded to bark at the other child like a dog.

Shortly after this incident, he ran out into the hallway. I yelled to my co-leader where I was going and followed Jack into the hallway. I asked him what was going on and how he was feeling. He said some unsettling things for a second grader, the most worrisome being that he solved problems by punching things.

I tried to explain to him that punching things doesn’t solve anything; rather, it hurts another person and only fosters more fights and arguments. However, I could tell that he wouldn’t be changed that easily.

I finally had a breakthrough with him, and it came in the form of a toy cashier. We walked into an empty classroom where he found the toy cashier and began to play with it. He asked if he could go and buy items and started sorting the fake coins and money.

After a little while of playing with the cashier, he opened up and told me that he wanted to leave the room because he was mad. He asked me if we could come back and play with the cashier whenever he started to feel angry. I told him I couldn’t make any promises, but in the end I felt that I had possibly helped him.

I look forward to seeing how he will grow over the remaining course of summer.

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