Working with children can be rewarding but it can also be challenging especially if you add challenging children to the equation, children that are struggling behaviorally in particular. Let’s admit, it is hard and to be honest, sometimes you can feel depleted, drained, frustrated, exhausted and at your wit’s end and those are valid feelings as a human being you have every right to feel. Good news! Below are five tips that would help you teach that challenging child. Notice how I emphasized teach. As teachers, we are not called to just deal with challenging children but we are called to teach them effectively despite their challenging behavior.
Build a positive and loving relationship
This is one of the most effective approaches in order to reach and teach that child. They need to know they are loved and cared for by you. They need to be able to trust you and trust that you have their best interests at heart. All healthy relationships are built upon trust. Trust is established by consistency. Continue being consistent in relationship building with that child even when it gets hard, and your well on your way to being able to teach them effectively. News Flash! Children know sense and feel when they are loved. They will work hard for you if you work hard for them.
Reach out to your support system
Sometimes we all just need a set of listening ears and to feel heard and to have our feelings validated. Disclaimer, if you are expressing your feelings of frustration about a child just ensure that it is done in confidentiality. You also want to reach out to your support system for the benefit of the child as well. You want to be able to get as much help for the child as possible. This may look like advice, strategies, resources as well as the history of the child just so that you can ensure the best way to effectively help that child.
There is always a reason behind whatever behavior is being exhibited. Some reasons may be extremely evident and others are buried underneath the surface. As teachers, we must be willing to dig deep enough to find the root of the issues. This may entail closer observations and look for patterns in the behaviors. Using the five W’s strategy is helpful. For example: What behavior is taking place? Who is the behavior taking place around? Where is the behavior taking place? When is the behavior taking place? These will eventually lead you to why the behavior is taking place. Once you found your why you can find a strategy that will effectively help that child.
This strategy works like a charm. Children thrive off of continual positive reinforcement. This can come in the form of verbal praise, high fives, hugs, stickers or whatever else you feel like would be a great reinforcement. Consistency is key, even if you feel like that child had a hard day find at least one good thing to praise them for.
Challenging children are not challenging intentionally. Someone once said, “If a kid is giving you a hard time they are having a hard time”(Unknown). Developing empathy for a child that is challenging evokes compassion which in return propels you to want to help that child succeed by any means necessary.