(Note: Names have been changed to protect the author.)

You will learn something valuable from every challenging student you’ll ever have.  It is tough getting through some days, but be open to the learning opportunities.

Bella was honestly the cutest little girl in the world.  Dark-hair, petite, a voice like Minnie Mouse.  She adored horses, and on her good days, she would just sparkle while she told you how she wanted to be a cowgirl.

She was from a divorced home with some issues, and acted OUT.  On her bad days, she would hit, scream, talk back, throw chairs, and swear (the big words). It was so bad, I was at a complete loss to know what do do with her.    I learned two important lessons from Bella:

One: Fair does not mean equal.  In our room, the rule is ‘If you hit, you sit’.  However, my director told me that we were going to have to help Bella change her behaviors, but only one at a time, starting with the big ones.  Obviously, safety was the main concern, so the rule for Bella was: No throwing chairs.  That meant that if she hit, shouted, swore or talked back, there was no consequence, just a reminder that that wasn’t ok to do here.  (That was SO tough for me.)  However, after a couple of weeks the furniture rearranging stopped.  Then we worked on hitting, then swearing, etc.  It was not magically changed in a month, but it DID get better. 

Two: Tough situations call for a tough consequence.  Once after watching Bella throw a chair, my director told her, “She shouldn’t get today’s birthday treat today.”  Oh, how she howled and cried while the rest of us ate a cupcake, but it showed her that No meant No.  (We’ll talk more about that later.)

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