What Makes “THAT Child” Behave That Way?

Funny young school student balancing a pencil on his noseBy Sabrina Bong — As I was scrolling through Facebook recently, I stumbled across a website that one of my friends had shared.

The website was a blog from a teacher out in Canada, but her message rings true throughout every country. It was so inspiring that I immediately knew that it was something I had to share with everyone here. Even though I am not a teacher, the feelings are the same for me as a counselor.

In this open letter from Amy Murray, she writes about “THAT child.” I’m sure all of us in the education field thought of someone right when they read that statement. We all have a student (or more than a few students) that may require a little extra love and attention, someone who may simultaneously grate on our nerves and melt our hearts. They may also be the student who causes chaos in every single classroom he or she touches.

But Amy begs people – particularly parents – not to make snap decisions about “THAT child.” She asks them to show patience and realize that she cannot share everything about “THAT child” with them, even though it may answer a lot of questions. She mentions that sometimes, “THAT child” is being abused, that he may be hungry and cranky because of allergy tests, or that she may be looking for attention because she is living with grandma (who may be a potential alcoholic.) She reminds each of us that these children are all people, people who are struggling with a unique situation in life.

The reason it touched me is because I have a student that everyone calls “THAT child.” He isn’t liked too much by teachers because he is constantly having meltdowns in class, which consist of swearing, crying, and the occasional tantrum. I can’t necessarily tell all of these teachers what I know about his family situation. I can’t tell them about his home life. I can tell them that he once told me I was the only person he trusts, but I can’t tell the teachers what other adults have done to violate his trust. And it kills me a little bit inside; it really does. I want everyone to love this kid as much as I do, but many only see the problems he creates in class.

I would like to do what Amy Murray did. I would like to beg for people – parents, teachers, and students alike – to stop and think before making judgments about other students. While students may do bad things, I truly believe that no student is inherently “bad.” All of us at one time or another have made mistakes. Please realize that some of my students are using the only coping strategies they have ever been taught at home. I am trying so hard to help, but it is hard to change 12 or 13 years of habit.

And I beg all educators to love their students, each and every one of them, but to especially show a little love towards “THAT child.” After all, I’m sure we were all “THAT child” at one point in our lives.

To read the letter from Amy Murray, please click here.


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