Sometimes, as parents, educators, and professionals, we struggle with a child and wonder if we’re making any real difference. We have self-doubt whether the strategies we’re using are worth the backlash from the child. The tantrums, the arguing, the crying, and the cursing…(a/k/a an extinction burst – the child gets worse initially to try to prove to you that your techniques aren’t working), what does it all mean?
What I’ve learned from my many years of work, is that if I know that I’m using an evidence-based, solid set of strategies, I need to keep at it. With really difficult children, it might take months, sometimes even a year or two, but when the child really improves and sees how his life is so much better, he comes around and then some!
Those kids have been my BEST REFERRAL SOURCE!
I remember a 9-year-old student of mine who was convinced he was “dumb” and would sleep through class. At home, he defied his parents, cursed them out, fought with his siblings, and did whatever the heck he decided. Of course, after reviewing his psychoeducational evaluation and discovering that he was a super bright young man who was fully capable of learning, I shared this information with him and told him that he was going to HAVE To succeed academically. I compelled him to learn at school, via strong rewards and equally strong corrections. At home, we tackled his behaviors by training his parents to use more effective parenting strategies, and compelling him to behave there as well. It took a little while and a lot of cursing me out, but he became a responsible mature young man. When his little brother started showing some behavioral problems a few years later, he told his mom, “Why don’t you call Morah Devora??!!” (When the mom called me and told me the story, I almost fell off my chair!)
A seventh grade rebbe (Hebrew teacher) called me once to see if I can help him with his son who had anxiety. The rebbe must have told a story about his family and described a child of his who had some fears. One of the students in the class approached the rebbe at recess and told him that he “has to call Devora Samet” because “she helped me so much with my own anxiety.” And this was a student who wasn’t so keen on using my strategies at times. He even made sure to “lose” the mini-anxiety strategies book we had created one week. (Knowing his personality and expecting him to make it disappear, I took pics of all the pages and saved it in his file.)
To all the parents… oftentimes the children you invest in the most give you the most joy and nachas as well.
To all the educators and professionals… keep doing your great work. Your students might be your best referral source 😉
Have a successful week!