Last night I went out to eat with a friend. We had been seated a few minutes when a family was seated next to us, with a barrier between us. The family consisted of a mom, dad, young girl, and infant boy. Within the first few minutes of the family’s arrival, the young girl picked up a handful of crayons and launched them at my friend. He chuckled, scooped up the crayons, and asked if she wanted them back. I took the crayons off of our table, handed them across the divider, and explained to the young girl that she would not be able to color if she did not have her crayons.

A few minutes later, the young girl picked up her spoon and began to bang it loudly against her plate. Her parents admonished her and verbalized consequences if the behavior did not stop. My friend looked up and caught my eye. We looked at each other for a lengthy amount of time, having a conversation without words.

Over the last few weeks, I have realized that my work is creeping into my personal life. I had to hold my tongue when watching a young girl tip back in a tall stool while sitting in a lobby of a school. I reminded myself that if her parent was not concerned, I should let it go. A few minutes later I caught the eye of a young boy, clearly upset, as he was heading out the door of this lobby. I attempted to read the situation to figure out the trigger, but more importantly, I looked to make sure there was an adult that was following him out the door.

I spend so much time with dysregulated and unsafe children, and scan situations continually, that I often continue this vigilance when I am not at work.

I know this is not only the problem of the behavior teacher because my mother, a retired nurse, has assisted in many medical situations while on vacation or just driving to a social event. It may be different for her though. People mostly welcome medical assistance after they have been in an accident or when they have a loved one who has collapsed. People are not as receptive to a behavior teacher giving advice on how they can manage their child who is having a behavioral event. My go-to interaction in these situations is to simply say, “that is a tough age”, and focus on what I should be doing.

child on steel framed stool
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