a little challenge

There is a child in my class who is driving me crazy.

Let’s call her Raspberry.  She is rarely in the right place at the right time.  She is often not doing what she is supposed to be doing.  She routinely ignores everything I say to her.  She wants to do what she wants to do, which mostly  involves roaming the room and picking up things that don’t belong to her, and sometimes involves playing with the little toys and makeup and jewelry she keeps sneaking in, against my express wishes (I have a rule about no toys from home, because they are nothing but a distraction).  If I put her in the Take-A-Break chair, she sticks out her tongue at me and says, “I hate you!”

The main problem, however, is me.  I mean, this is MY problem.  I have to figure out how to deal with her.  I have to stop getting so frustrated with her.  I have to stop letting her stress me out.  (And it would be nice to come to grips with this kid so that Miss Slinger will stop giggling at how easily Raspberry gets me riled!)

Usually I love my problem kid.  This is the first time in a loooong time that my problem kid keeps stepping on my last nerve.

I’ve decided to ask the school psychologist for help.  He’s very calm and very helpful, and I think he will help me deal with my reactions to Raspberry as much as he will help me figure out how to get her on a better track.

Anyone else have any advice for me on my Raspberry problem?


9 thoughts on “a little challenge

  1. Wow, this sounds EXACTLY like my AM. She drives me CRAZY!!!! Most of her problem, though, is that she’s terribly spoiled. Her mother really doesn’t have a clue. She thinks everything AM does is cute. At least she used to, until she had to hear about all the ‘cuteness’ from me on nearly a daily basis. For over a month now, every morning, when she brings her into my room LATE (which means she’s a complete and total distraction to the rest of the class!) she’s been saying, “Now, remember A, it’s only 35 days (…20 days, …10 days… you get the picture!) until your birthday. If you want me to bring cupcakes, you better have a good day!” Ugh! I want to punch her every time she says it! Actually, I couldn’t hold my tongue this past Tuesday, so after she said it, I retorted, “You know, she’s supposed to behave and follow the rules EVERYDAY, not just until her birthday.” Her mom just looked at me like I had 3 heads.

    I feel your pain, Girlfriend! 😦

  2. I love it that your school has a staff psychologist! Wow, what a great resource. Talking with a professional who is not in your classroom, so he can offer an outsider’s perspective, sounds like a very smart move.

    Have you ever come across Dr. Becky Bailey’s books? She’s a developmental psychologist, who’s special interest is loving guidance in the early childhood classroom. Her book Conscious Discipline is about classroom management. I saw her present at a conference a couple of years ago, and she was wonderful–funny and smart, and she rooted all her ideas in brain science. Check out her website at http://www.beckybailey.com/conscious_discipline.cfm

    • This sounds like my SG! She’s terribly spoiled, too. A beauty pageant girl. The only thing that has helped me keep my sanity is doing something with SG that I do with my autistic children: I don’t give her very many verbal directions. If she is roaming the room I will stand next to her and look at her very sternly and point to her chair, or the rug, or wherever she is supposed to be at that moment. She quickly picks up on this and will usually say something like “No!” I will then hold up one, then two fingers, etc. I have never had to get to three before she goes. Then I give her a smile and a big thumbs up and she will respond in kind. Sometimes I will say, too, “Do you need me to help you?” (To do whatever she is supposed to be doing at that moment, and she hates this, and will say, “No!” and usually do it. This doesn’t always work, but sometimes, and it is a lot less stressful than saying “Sit down, come here,” repeatedly. Yesterday she refused to come in from the playground and when I went to get her she spit on me, so I feel your pain!

      • Ooh, that is a good idea. Using verbal directions and reminders clearly isn’t working for me, so I’m going to try your way. Thank you!

  3. I don’t have any ideas about the rest of her behavior, although I totally sympathize, but I’ve found a solution to the sneaking in toys from home situation that works for me.

    Our policy is that you are welcome to bring in toys from home, but once they’re in the classroom they belong to everyone. Usually, when I remind kids of this they return their toys to their cubbies, but when a child decides to test this, my first response is to eagerly ask to hold it. I then start playing with it and talking to other children about it. When the “owner” asks for it back, I tell her that I’m playing with it now and that she’ll get it back once everyone else has a turn.

    If she gets upset, I give her the choice to continue sharing it or store it in her cubby. Most of the time she makes that decision and it’s over.

    Sometimes, however, the child opts to continue testing. When this happens, I wait for her to get momentarily distracted, then hide the damn thing somewhere in the classroom. When she asks me about it, I’ll say, “It’s in the classroom somewhere. Maybe someone else is playing with it.”

    Sometimes there are tears, sometimes it becomes an all hands on deck search, but the net result is that once the precious toy is found, it always gets safely stored in the cubby.

  4. I, too, usually love the “problem” child of the group. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I can see such tangible results with them when they start behaving, or sharing, or whatever the “problem” may be. I like to use the same kind of technique as Teacher Tom, and have an open door policy with toys, but since our classroom is a Sharing Place, we MUST share. I don’t even allow for it to go back in a cubby if they don’t want to share, since we have had the “sneaking to the cubby” with just “special” friends, so toys go into the Safe Keeping Basket so it will be in one piece and ready to go home when they leave.
    As for the unsavory behavior, I usually like to have that child be my Helper. When I see them stray from what they should be doing, I will either walk over to them and ask for help in doing something before going back to their work, or hand them something to carry for me. Sometimes it just takes a little extra attention to redirect them to where they should be.
    Now, I do know that sometimes it feels like we are “rewarding” them for not doing what we asked, but some kids just need that little job to get back on the right path, and don’t associate it with anything negative they are doing. Actually, I have seen them try to be good just to get to be the Helper more often. Once they get a taste of it, they like it and I can start to only choose them when they are on task.

  5. As I read your post, I kept thinking about what she was doing vs. what you said she was suppose to be doing. It sounds like dramatic play is a priority to her and she isn’t being given enough time to engage. I would suggest revamping your dramatic play center, if you have one, to include these items that she seems to be interested in and let her at it. Once she has an opportunity to play out what it is that she needs to play out, she will move on to something else. I think you will find that if you respect her need to play, she will honor your requests to do what you ask.
    I have a little girl who is almost two in my infant center. For the last two months, every day that she is at my center she plays with a baby doll in every way imaginable, but her very favorite thing to do is dress, undress and change the baby’s diaper – even asking me for a baby wipe! This is all she is focused on for hours and the hours turned into days and then months. I would offer her other activities, but she grew tired of those quickly and had o get back to her baby. Let me tell you it was the most tiring experience I have had in my early childhood career, but there was something intrinsic about her need to do this, and I was determined to honor it. So I bought newborn diapers, had extra real baby bottles, crib, high chair, band-aids for when the baby had a boo boo, and of course, baby wipes. And we played. For days. For months. Now it seems of late she has finally moved on a bit and will play with other toys and do other activities, but still needs to know where her baby it at all times.
    Motivation either comes from within or from external factors. With your little one, it sounds to me like it is internal. With all my “problem” kids I always start with motivation and go from there.
    Good luck with your raspberry…

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