Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Am Feeling Frustrated

I have this student and he can't deal with basic frustration. He will throw a binder on the floor, shove a kid, yell, scream, whatever have you. He can be a really nice, sweet kid; but he is like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.

His parents are giving me a really hard time. I suggested that he see the Social Worker for help with anger management, but they felt we could handle it in the classroom and at home. So, I wrote a behavior log he could bring home each day to improve communication, but they felt this singled him out. So, now I have to have another meeting with them to develop a plan "we can all agree on." Frankly, I am a little sick of making plans for them.

I can tell based on the responses of his parents that he has been very protected from experiencing frustration. I suspect that if he were to be required to deal with frustration in an appropriate manner then his problems would disappear.

However, what can I do when his parents are extremely concerned whenever he experiences a frustration? Frustration is a natural part of life and learning.

I think that last year he was exposed to as little frustration as possible in order to minimize angry outbursts. It is tempting to follow this course with him again because I won't deal with as much from him. It really is giving up on him to do that, though.

I don't know, I want to say that I won't do that, but it does depend on how difficult his parents are. If they refuse to have him held accountable, there is not much I can do.


Lsquared said...

This sounds a bit like my son. Not that it's frustration specifically that sets him off, but things will happen (often changes in schedule or expectations) that you'd think anyone could handle, and he blows up or clams up. He's made a lot of progress over the years (ADHD meds are great--a quote from the kid himself at a family gathering on a holiday when he hadn't taken the meds: "mom, do you have my medicine that helps me control myself?"), but it's still all too easy in a new situation for him to get frustrated in a way that he can't handle (at home he'll yell "no" and refuse to budge--at school he does a slightly quieter version of the same thing).

We're working on getting him tested for ASD, but that's only so teachers will have some warning about what they're getting into. Sadly, there are no effective treatments or cures for ASD--you just learn coping mechanisms, and you learn them more slowly than everyone else. Every so often I tell him repeatedly to do something (like sit still). Something that anyone should know how to do.
And he doesn't. And then I have to ask myself: is this something his brain chemistry makes him incapable of? It's not that he can't learn to deal with frustration, or sit still or whatever, but it does mean that just telling him to do it (or even telling him how to do it) isn't going to work.

I don't know what your out of control kid is like, but I do know that some out of control kids have a brain chemistry problem that makes it harder for them to handle certain sorts of things, so--go for it; try to help him learn how to deal with frustration, but realize that if it doesn't see, to be working, that you may need to try some different approaches. If he's like my kid then you'd need to approach handling frustration as a learning goal, and think about how to prep him for a frustrating situation, and introduce frustrating situations a little at a time. Now, realize that it isn't your job to do all of that. Your job is plenty big without setting up specific learning environments like this for one child. I realize this too, so I don't want you to feel that you need to be doing this. On the other hand, sometimes it's nice to be doing something that works rather than something that doesn't, and if so, I hope my insights help you come up with ideas that work.

Ricochet said...

I have a student like this too. He is a Junior.