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A very small population of ‘troublemakers’ were actually born to make trouble. Few children really develop the mood, personality, or psychiatric disorders which place their behaviors completely out of correlation with their environment, life experiences, or upbringing. Children are a product of nature and nurture. Children act mostly on what they learn at home and how they are being treated at home.

We recently discussed the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences and how children respond to trauma in their early lives. Children develop what is called toxic stress which lives in their bodies as well as their mind. Toxic stress is different from the stress millions of students are suffering academically. Toxic stress eats away at a child’s physical and mental health, which can inspire all kinds of “behavioral problems”.

Children who act out, fall behind, or have difficulty getting along with others are not “problem” children. These children may be having problems at home or in other areas of their life- problems which are beyond their young capacity to cope with. Teachers should have more compassion for the adverse childhood experiences which so many children are facing.

Consider Your Perception Of Children

Children should show up to class, listen, participate, do their homework, and do well on their exams. This would be the dream of perfection for any teacher. Children are not perfect. The lives of children, as evidenced by the 60 percent of people who have lived through at least one ACE in their lifetime, are not innocent. Children are facing some of the greatest difficulties in life at a young age.

When adults take the stance that children have nothing to worry about, have nothing to be stressed about, and should just do as they are told, they rob children of autonomy, individuation, and the authenticity of experiencing life. Children are not bothersome individuals who can’t control themselves. Children are malleable, sponge like creatures who don’t know how to manage or regulate the extreme emotions which come with trauma. These children don’t need discipline. They need help.

What Teachers Can Do

Before writing out another detention or humiliating a student in front of the class, take time to consider what might be going on in that child’s life. Do they have any siblings in the school whose teachers you could talk with? Does the school counselor or principal know something about the family you don’t? Compassion is taking time to deeply empathize with a child’s struggles, seeking some truth to their experience before making assumptions. Act out of your heart, rather than a position of power, and consider the needs of the child, over the classroom. You may put a dent in a few days of the class, but you might be the life saving, life changing source of support one child desperately needs.

Traumatized children can grow up to be traumatized adults. If you are struggling to cope with trauma, you are not alone. The Guest House Ocala offers residential treatment programming for men and women who are needing support in coping with trauma in their lives. Trauma manifests differently for everyone. Our program offers concierge customization, individualizing each treatment plan to the unique needs of every client. Call us today for information: 1-855-483-7800