Superman Doesn't Fly Solo
Most of us on this website want to save the world, if we could. We desire to help the poor, feed the hungry, heal the sick, and we fight for human rights. Some people have dedicate their lives to this task, due in part to their passion for people and their drive to make the world a better place. I fit into this category, myself. I am currently in pursuit of higher education in the form of counseling, and I intend on improving the mental health of those I come into contact with and serve.
There is always a call to action; a need for teachers, counselors, pastors, coaches, and other third parties that can make an impact on a child's cognitive and physical development. These parties play a great role in these kids' lives, sometimes even filling a void that the child needs, in some cases such as the role of a positive male figure, in single mother households. The media does a great job of portraying this scenario in inner-city schools, with movies such as Stand and Deliver and Dangerous Minds. There is also the opposite end of the spectrum, in which affluent kids who grow up in troubled households receive positive reinforcement from their teachers, like in The Dead Poet's Society (my personal favorite).
While these relationships are dynamic and life-changing, it is important to keep in mind that these relationships may only meet a few hours a day, and possibly not for a long period of time. Teachers get new classes, counselors receive new cases, coaches get new athletes, so on and so forth. The most important force in a child's life is the parents. It is CRUCIAL to involve the parents in whatever developmental process the child is involved in. A child's behavior in the school setting is a reflection of his/her home-life. Parents spend the most time with their children, even if they are working three jobs. The child still looks to them as their source of love and affection. If the child is exhibiting violent behavior in the classroom, then you must first learn what is causing it at home. Once you understand the cause, then you can develop a solution.
This is obviously easier said than done, but it is an important thing to keep in mind. While you may be doing a great job of developing a child's self-esteem (thus giving the child more confidence to pursue his or her desires, academically, athletically, etc.) the child may be receiving a different message at home. The parents may cut the child down and constantly punish him/her. Sometimes, the parents may not even realize these emotional/physical consequences of their own behavior. When a child is very young, he/she picks up the mother and father's attitudes. If a little boy is scared and runs to his mom, does she hold him? Does she tell him that he is safe and everything is going to be okay? Does she tell him that she loves him? To the child, the questions are: Does mommy love me, and does she want to protect me? This translates into: Am I worthy of love, and of being protected? This is what forms a child's self-esteem right in the very beginning, and will continue to through his adolescence.
While you must know your boundaries, it is imperative that you suggest to the parents what your goals are for their child and how they can be helpful at home. If you can change the parents, then you can change the child. Once the parents are on board, things will improve, and (best case scenario) they will continue to improve after they graduate from your classroom, or go up to the next team.
This is just a friendly reminder that we cannot save the world by ourselves; we need reinforcements. There is ALWAYS hope for a child, and there is no point-of-no-return on their behavior. Sometimes, we just have to find a different route.