It was my first day at a new Club. There was this kid that everyone warned me about…
”He is, well, different.” Or “You do not want to be around him on a bad day.”
I wasn’t too scared because I was used to working with kids from all backgrounds.
Said member comes storming into my office and begins to know over my books. I said, “Timmy, what is wrong…what is bothering you?” He is about 11 years old and sobbing, whining, and making baby noises. He refuses to answer me. I say, “Timmy, I know I am new here, but you can talk to me.” A book flies past my head. He stomps his feet and wails. This continues for a good 5 minutes. I begin to lose patience and say, “Timmy, once you are finished acting like a baby, and I will speak to you.”
Uhhhh, you would have thought I went deep into his soul and explored his whole universe, picked out the one thing that he hates to hear, and said it. He went into a tailspin of rage and screamed, “I AM NOT A BABY! I HATE WHEN PEOPLE CALL ME THAT. I HATE YOU!”
I am super glad he clarified that he hated me because this whole time I am thinking, “We are getting along swimmingly.”
As soon as he said those words, I thought…I made this situation worse. I tried to deal with it the best way I knew how and it completely backfired. I immediately apologized because I obviously did not want to hurt him or make the situation worse. After my apology, he looked surprised, calmed down, and sat in my office while talking to me about his favorite video game. Timmy just wanted to be heard. He wanted his feelings to be validated. My simple apology took him from a 10 to a 4.
We all have members like this and over the years, I have realized that there is no magic way to discipline or work with kids. It really does depend on the kid. One thing that is true though, is that intentional, teachable discipline is the only way to see growth. Most of us work with a particular clientele and that comes with certain challenges that, when ignored, can make our lives and the lives of members much worse.
While my tactic of disengage until you are calm works with a number of kids, it did not for Timmy. This is the case for a ton of members. Something might work well for member X and not for member Y. This simple, yet important Member Behavior Profile does so much for members at the Club. This profile can help staff better understand how to work with members with emotional and behavior disorders on an individual basis.
The Member Behavior Profile can help identify members who have certain behavioral tendencies, help determine the motivations for those behaviors, and the best practices/strategies/consequences for interacting or disciplining.
I have also included some materials that I have used at the Club for years. If a member acts out due to lack of control over a situation or becomes stressed with high volumes of kids and lack of direction, a member schedule might be a great alternative to letting him/her choose areas. Additionally, some members need increased recognition or a way to track their behavior so a weekly behavior report is also included. Finally, you will find an IF-THEN chart that can increase predictability for members who like to understand consequences for their actions.
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