Making a Connection with Troubled Children
How to connect when the child is reluctant of a connection
I was somewhat nervous and apprehensive about my first day of my internship. I was not informed of what child I was going to be working with. I was not aware of the people that I was going to be working with. All I knew was my supervisor. I had an interview with him the week prior and was told over the weekend that I secured myself a position at the Elementary School that I was hoping for. The morning finally came. I woke up early, had breakfast, showered, and headed out before I needed to. I wanted to be damn sure that I got there at lease 15 minutes before I had to. I wanted to impress my colleagues and supervisor right from the start and make a very profession first impression on them. When I arrived at the school I greeted my supervisor and he introduced me to the teacher that I was going to be working with. The teacher was kind and friendly but also apprehensive about me. Which made sense as I was working in her class with her students and she has not yet seen what I can do . The 9am bell rang and all the students started to fall into the school. I was waiting outside the classroom that I was going to be working in and then I saw my supervisor walking with a young 8 year old boy. He was short for his age, slightly pudgy, blue eyes and blond air. My supervisor introduced me to him. "Mr. Logan I would like you to meet DJ" my supervisor said. I bent down on one knee so I can look at him on an equal eye level for his comfort. I said with a friendly tone " Hi DJ, its great to meet you". He looked at me with an suspicious look on his face. He did't respond and walked right passed me and walked into class, threw his bag on the floor, sat down and put his head on his desk. My supervisor turned to me and said "Give him time he will open up at some point, he is a hard to warm up to new people kind of a child. My supervisor explained to me that many adults in the school tried making a connection with and attempting to improve his behavior but nothing has worked so far. I was told that he lost his mother and brother a year earlier and it was only his Dad now struggling to raise him. Since that incident a year ago he has emotionally shut down from people. The staff in the school have somewhat given up on him because they have other children that they must attend to and they can cannot give all their energy time and attention to this one child. I was unsure of how to approach the situation based on all the information my supervisor provided me. So I did the first thing I knew how to do, and that is make an emotional connection. I approached young DJ and just began talking to him. I began asking him questions which he did not respond to. I made it clear to him that he did not have to talk to me if he did want to. He did not pull away he just sat that there not making any eye contact with me as I spoke. This went on for a couple of weeks. It was very difficult to see if there was any kind of connection that has been built with him. There was not any words being spoken from him. About 3 weeks into my internship I was having a discussion with my supervisor. We were discussing DJ's progress and what we can do better to establish a repore with him. As we were speaking to each other DJ walked down the hall to the gymnasium. As he passed myself and my supervisor he extended his arm and gave me a friendly and affection pat on my shoulder and said "Hi, Logan". My supervisor looked at me astonished. He said " Oh my God you connected with him". "I did?" I replied "Yes you sure did" said my supervisor. He explained to me that that small little gesture of patting me on the shoulder and saying hi to me may not seem so significant from other children but from DJ that small gesture mean a lot. It signified that I succeeding at establishing a connection with him. All the talking to him and spending time with him that I did in the past 3 weeks paid off. From our perspective Dj appeared to be disconnected, standoffish, and emotionally detached from me, however we were unaware of what was actually happening inside his head and how we were making him feel even though he was not showing it. Days later DJ was having a difficult time getting his work done in class. He had his head down ion his desk and looked like he did not sleep well the night before. The teachers went over to him and took a knee beside his desk and ask him what was wrong. DJ did not reply. The teacher ask him open ended question in an attempt to open him up but to no avail. The teacher then ask DJ "Is there anyone you would like to speak with DJ?" DJ replied in a soft voice. " Yes, I would like to speak with Mr. Logan.". Emotional connection was achieved. To be continued.