By Wanda Parker
There are so many tools that can be used to ensure a well run, orderly, fun after school program. Kids are kids and down deep they have a desire for orderliness.
However, once in a while you will have a kid that is so disruptive and not a single one of your tools is going to work.
Tomas was an angry 6 year old. If you told him to stand he would sit, if you told him to sit he would stand. He knew how to push adult buttons so he felt like he was in control. He was the child you would find yourself praying, “Lord it would be so much easier today if Tomas didn’t come.”
But then you would catch yourself and ask forgiveness – because isn’t that the very type of child with whom you wanted to work? BUT, it looked so much easier from the outside looking in.
One day Tomas was especially horrid. He had disrupted everything the director was trying to do and then it led to his hitting other children. He refused to sit in time out. Finally I went to him, picked him up and put him in my lap.
I wrapped my arms around him and over and over whispered in his ear, “Tomas I love you. Tomas you are special. Tomas Jesus loves you. Tomas I am so glad you are here.”
All the while his little legs were kicking me as hard as he could – leaving gouges in my legs.
While I whispered in his ear I was crying out to the Triune God asking for direction and intervention.
Suddenly a thought came into my mind and so I asked, “Tomas, do you sometimes want to sit still but your body just goes and goes and goes? Do you feel like you can’t stop your body from moving? It may even feel painful at times because your body won’t stop moving. Does that make you feel angry?”
Tomas suddenly fell limp in my arms and started sobbing. Instead of me holding him tight he wrapped his arms around my arms and clung to me while he sobbed. The remainder of the day he stayed close to me, never letting me get so far away he couldn’t touch me.
Without saying it in words he was shouting at me, “Finally someone understands!”
Having a well ordered after school program demands that you know the kids beyond name, family, school, age. You must know the inner child. That doesn’t happen unless you are intentional in learning all you can about each child.
Talk to parents, to teachers, to social service providers – know what is going on in the child’s life. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what is happening within the child – as He did for me that day with Tomas.
What ever you do don’t give up on that child who is acting out.
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