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"I Don't Know What To Do With Him/Her"

Updated on October 12, 2009

I no longer know how to respond to the statement, "I don't know what do with him," and I most definitely become flustered at the ridiculous declarations of, "she doesn't act like this at home." Please parents, get real, we can't help if you can't tell the truth. It just isn't possible to either work with a child, or even work with a parent if the parent isn't on board with all of the people wanting to help. We are useless if you don't talk to us, stymied if you don't listen, and even worse, worthless if you can't see the thing staring you in the face.

Over the years I've worked with countless children who for one reason or another have been deemed "just not worth it. Sometimes parents give up, sometimes they've never tried, and sometimes the child just doesn't want you to, but I've never believed that, and I never will. Each year brings a new child and a new challenge, and yet the biggest challenge comes in deciding to meet that challenge head on. Sometimes you get smiles, sometimes you get tears, sometimes you get cracked in the face, and sometimes you get absolutely nothing at all.

Is it worth it? Of course it is. Making the difference in one child's life is worth the ten we can't reach. Knowing that one child is a better person, or that one child can wake up in the morning knowing that there's someone out there who cares about them.......... yes, it's worth it, and how could anyone say that it isn't? They can't, and if they do maybe it's time to wake up and see the world.

My newest challenge is an imp........... we'll call him Charlie. He's six years old, has a knock em dead smile, and he is certifiably TERRIBLE. Terrible may seem like an awful word to use in describing a first grader, but it actually is the nicest description I can come up with. Charlie terrorizes his classmates, beats on his teacher (literally), has temper tantrums that redefine the word tantrum, writes on wall, throws over desks, kicks. screams, and yes, he bites!

My co-workers hear his name, and there is an immediate response that can run anywhere from giggles to horror. Charlie can bring those responses out in most anyone, and even the horror eventually turns to giggles. You have to laugh; everyday gives us reasons to laugh. Unfortunately, Charlie's mother doesn't agree.

She makes excuses; she blames his teachers, she blames the other students, she blames the entire world, and yet she doesn't see herself as a part of the problem. We try the reward system; she buys him rewards for behaving badly. Expensive rewards; rewards he hasn't earned, and rewards that teach him he'll get a toy if he doesn't bite, but that throwing books at children is okay. He can still have that electronic robot on Friday after school. The parents of the other children in his classroom address the administration; they look for answers to the constant distraction he's become in the life of thirty other kids, but there are no easy answers. What do we do?

Charlie has lost some of his endearing qualities; sadly, he's lost them even with me. I love seeing him in the hall; I love knowing that in his worst moments he responds to me, and I hate it that I know until he receives the same message both at school and at home; the message is useless. This year has found me keeping my distance; he sees me an an advocate, as a reward for misbehavior. My entrance into a classroom means that he gets to leave the one place he doesn't want to be, and that he doesn't have to do what he's told because I will take him out of the prison he imagines his classroom to be, and in a sense he has won. He hasn't figured out how to illicit positive attention, and yes, he wants attention, so he he gets it any way he can. Taking him out of the learning environment isn't a punishment; it's the prize at the end of the game.

Will I continue to watch out for him? Yeah, I will. Would I want to be his designated babysitter within the classroom? Absolutely not! Will I ever look at his classmate's parents and tell them to cut him some slack, that there's nothing to worry about? Never! But I will watch out for him, and I will continue to look for the good as opposed to the bad, and I will always tell him when he's doing something I'm proud of, and I will always strive to make him see that being proud of himself is the most important thing he will ever do. At the end of the day; he just a kid; he's just a little kid, and at the end of the day we have to remember that there is something good in everyone. That even if we can't see it, it's there, and maybe, just maybe, we need to dig deep and look a little bit harder.

Every child needs to feel "worth" it, and every child needs attention. So how do we do it while fighting against the odds and fighting parents who don't want to deal? The generation of "no accountability." How do we make them accountable?


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    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 7 years ago

      iAccura- I couldn't have said that better myself! Children's parents are their first role models, and I think that every child not only needs to have good role models, but that they deserve them as well.

      I love the "Charlies," but they do occasionally frustrate me beyond words................... especially when they move from the world of the "imp," and become middle schoolers!

      Thank you for your comments!


    • iAccura profile image

      iAccura 7 years ago

      There are 'Charlies' in this world because some parents can't see or understand what is causing their child's behavior. Some don't care as their needs weren't met and they are just living day to day.

      Children look to their parents for survival and never question their behavior because of inexperience. This same inexperience causes them to create behaviors to deal with worldly things around them they don't understand. This belief, such as, "I'm not good enough" will limit them the rest of their life, all because parents don't understand that such action and verbal statements will affect their child's behavior.

      It's hard for a teacher to prepare a child for society with social behavior when the child's own parents don't have acceptable social behavior understanding.

      I admire you for the excellent coping job you are doing.

      Thanks for sharing,

      Dean Johnson (iAccura)

    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 7 years ago

      Marieryan- Thank you for the support. The "Charlies" are definitely my "Achilles Heel." Give me an imp with a grin and a sparkle in his eyes, and I will find a very sweet child somewhere inside.

      Charlie is doing quite well right now, but I rarely see him, and yes, he still asks for me when he's having a moment (or two, or three). If he's had a good week; I steal him on Friday to have lunch with me. If he's not, I simply explain the best I can.

      Thanks for wish of luck, and I will not EVER give up on him! He's a sweetheart; he's an imp, and he is worth it!

    • marieryan profile image

      Marie Ryan 7 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

      You are doing a great job because they are the Charlies of the world who need the help (or at least the support, even if it is only tacit!)

      You are right in that in the end, ironically, your attention is almost his reward and he gets to leave the normal classroom environment. He has got the attention he was seeking. He has won.

      He is not getting the attention other children strive for by being 'good' or 'cute' or 'clever' so he gets it the only way he knows how: by being an imp!

      This is the great dilemma of all classroom management difficulties and each child is a different case. It is so tricky trying to fit them all into the school's 'Behaviour Policy'.

      Good luck and donn't give up on him, in your heart.

      You obviously haven't or you wouldn't have written this, from your heart!

      Keep upthe good work.

    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 8 years ago

      James- They certainly make every day interesting............ there's no denying I have moments where I want to find the exit and run, but if I did I'd also miss out on some really great laughter.

      Every child needs someone to love them, and I am a pushover for an imp with a grin, there's no denying that.


    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      You are a helluva woman to take such care with these troubled children. Most will not have the heart to do this work. Thank you for sharing this story. It takes us inside to see what you face everyday. God Bless You!

    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 8 years ago

      Sorry, I haven't been back here in awhile. Thank you for the compliment, and thank you for stopping by..........

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 8 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      A great read, and an interesting story. Your perspective is refreshing.

    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 8 years ago

      Breakfastpop......... thank you, and you're right, we can't make parents accountable; we can't make them parent. Accountability will come down the road when the six year old turns fourteen and still acts out his aggression. That's when the police reports get filed and the law suits begin. There's nothing worse than seeing the police walk into school and immediately notice their not the regular beat cops. That's when the parents finally get it. It's sad.

    • sarovai profile image

      sarovai 8 years ago

      Thank u for sharing great hub.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 8 years ago

      Great hub. I don't know that you can "make" parents accountable, but you can start out teaching the proper way to parent before kids grow up and have kids of their own. These types of life skills should be taught early on and should be emphasized. I look forward to reading more.