You cannot help every child, but you need to keep trying #pastoralchallenge

I am sure many of you will have come across the child who no matter what you try, it doesn’t seem to make things better. The child that drives you mad with the Lying and game playing. The child who you give up your lunch times to help or listen to, only for them to throw it in your face and do something completely different or to have made up the issue. The child who looks so sad and sullen in every lesson, so much so you get emails from teachers expressing their concern and then when you talk to them, they just sit there staring at you. Saying nothing. You then email the parents expressing your concern, you get an email from the child and you think you have finally got to the bottom of what the issues is and then they throw you a curve ball and mention something completely different, something so small it doesn’t make sense to you. Their reaction seems so big and this issue seems so small. Your instinct is, that’s not the issue, there has to be something else. You sort this issue out. But then the child is mean and horrible to you or to another child. You are firm and consistent with your discussions with the child, there is no excuse for bad behaviour. Then the next lunch time they are happy and joyful again. You try to discuss with the child their odd behaviour, they promise they will try hard in the future, but then two weeks later, more sullen faces and body language. Looks that could kill to everyone that asks if they are ok.

Well I have one of those at the moment and it’s draining. I know that the child is calling out for something but I can’t work out what it is. Is there something seriously wrong? I have encouraged the child to see the counsellor. Hopefully they will take me up on this, but I am concerned that they won’t discuss the issues that I see. Are they like this because this is the behaviour they have learnt and don’t know how to communicate and the only way to get my attention is to do this rolls coaster of emotions. Are they suffering from MH issues and these are the symptoms? Are they just manipulating me? I know, I know. I feel terrible for thinking this. I see constant quotes on twitter about the child who pushes you away is the child that needs you the most, but it’s really hard. REALLY hard. Especially if it goes on for some time and the fact that we need to look after lots of other children in the tutor group. This is when your staff need to communicate to each other. To hear that the child is like this with them, or not. One member of staff pointed out that the child is only mean to the staff who are caring, pushing us further away. Still it feels a little like being in a cage but with the door unlocked. We could walk out of the cage so easily as teachers, but we don’t.

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Assistant Head ( DSL) at a boarding school. Interested in all PSHE and safeguarding topics.

3 thoughts on “You cannot help every child, but you need to keep trying #pastoralchallenge

  1. This is the child who scowls at me too, and then I decided that enough was enough and I started to play her game too but with my own rules – orthodox, nope; following the guidance and advice, nope. I told the child that whenever I saw them I would smile at them and the more they scowled and gave me the piercingly screwed up eyes I would continue to smile back. So far, my rules are working and the child is having to grimace back, crack a smile and now we are a little more open with each other. If the child scowls I smile sweetly because I refuse to allow the constant stream of negativity to get beyond the end of their nose. Am I ignoring an issue, no, but I am perhaps releasing (to me at least) the nicer, more relaxed individual I am hopeful is in there somewhere. Is this the golden ticket, nope, but we persevere!


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