Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

Dear Parent: About THAT kid…

on 10 November, 2014

Dear Parent:

I know. You’re worried. Every day, your child comes home with a story about THAT kid. The one who is always hitting shoving pinching scratching maybe even biting other children. The one who always has to hold my hand in the hallway. The one who has a special spot at the carpet, and sometimes sits on a chair rather than the floor. The one who had to leave the block centre because blocks are not for throwing. The one who climbed over the playground fence right exactly as I was telling her to stop. The one who poured his neighbour’s milk onto the floor in a fit of anger. On purpose. While I was watching.  And then, when I asked him to clean it up, emptied the ENTIRE paper towel dispenser. On purpose. While I was watching. The one who dropped the REAL ACTUAL F-word in gym class.

You’re worried that THAT child is detracting from your child’s learning experience. You’re worried that he takes up too much of my time and energy, and that your child won’t get his fair share. You’re worried that she is really going to hurt someone some day. You’re worried that “someone” might be your child. You’re worried that your child is going to start using aggression to get what she wants. You’re worried your child is going to fall behind academically because I might not notice that he is struggling to hold a pencil. I know.

Your child, this year, in this classroom, at this age, is not THAT child. Your child is not perfect, but she generally follows rules. He is able to share toys peaceably. She does not throw furniture. He raises his hand to speak. She works when it is time to work, and  plays when it is time to play. He can be trusted to go straight to the bathroom and straight back again with no shenanigans. She thinks that the S-word is “stupid” and the C-word is “crap.” I know.

I know, and I am worried, too.

You see, I worry all the time. About ALL of them. I worry about your child’s pencil grip, and another child’s letter sounds, and that little tiny one’s shyness, and that other one’s chronically empty lunchbox. I worry that Gavin’s coat is not warm enough, and that Talitha’s dad yells at her for printing the letter B backwards. Most of my car rides and showers are consumed with the worrying.

But I know, you want to talk about THAT child. Because Talitha’s backward Bs are not going to give your child a black eye.

I want to talk about THAT child, too, but there are so many things I can’t tell you.

I can’t tell you that she was adopted from an orphanage at 18 months.

I can’t tell you that he is on an elimination diet for possible food allergies, and that he is therefore hungry ALL. THE. TIME.

I can’t tell you that her parents are in the middle of a horrendous divorce, and she has been staying with her grandma.

I can’t tell you that I’m starting to worry that grandma drinks…

I can’t tell you that his asthma medication makes him agitated.

I can’t tell you that her mom is a single parent, and so she (the child) is at school from the moment before-care opens, until the moment after-care closes, and then the drive between home and school takes 40 minutes, and so she (the child) is getting less sleep than most adults.

I can’ tell you that he has been a witness to domestic violence.

That’s okay, you say. You understand I can’t share personal or family information. You just want to know what I am DOING about That Child’s behaviour.

I would love to tell you. But I can’t.

I can’t tell you that she receives speech-language services, that an assessment showed a severe language delay, and that the therapist feels the aggression is linked to frustration about being unable to communicate.

I can’t tell you that I meet with his parents EVERY week, and that both of them usually cry at those meetings.

I can’t tell you that the child and I have a secret hand signal to tell me when she needs to sit by herself for a while.

I can’t tell you that he spends rest time curled in my lap because “it makes me feel better to hear your heart, Teacher.”

I can’t tell you that I have been meticulously tracking her aggressive incidents for 3 months, and that she has dropped from 5 incidents a day, to 5 incidents a week.

I can’t tell you that the school secretary has agreed that I can send him to the office to “help” when I can tell he needs a change of scenery.

I can’t tell you that I have stood up in a staff meeting and, with tears in my eyes, BEGGED my colleagues to keep an extra close eye on her, to be kind to her even when they are frustrated that she just punched someone AGAIN, and this time, RIGHT IN FRONT OF A TEACHER.

The thing is, there are SO MANY THINGS I can’t tell you about That Child. I can’t even tell you the good stuff.

I can’t tell you that his classroom job is to water the plants, and that he cried with heartbreak when one of the plants died over winter break.

I can’t tell you that she kisses her baby sister goodbye every morning, and whispers “You are my sunshine” before mom pushes the stroller away.

I can’t tell you that he knows more about thunderstorms than most meteorologists.

I can’t tell you that she often asks to help sharpen the pencils during playtime.

I can’t tell you that she strokes her best friend’s hair at rest time.

I can’t tell you that when a classmate is crying, he rushes over with his favourite stuffy from the story corner.


The thing is, dear parent, that I can only talk to you about YOUR child. So, what I can tell you is this:

If ever, at any point, YOUR child, or any of your children, becomes THAT child…

I will not share your personal family business with other parents in the classroom.

I will communicate with you frequently, clearly, and kindly.

I will make sure there are tissues nearby at all our meetings, and if you let me, I will hold your hand when you cry.

I will advocate for your child and family to receive the highest quality of specialist services, and I will cooperate with those professionals to the fullest possible extent.

I will make sure your child gets extra love and affection when she needs it most.

I will be a voice for your child in our school community.

I will, no matter what happens, continue to look for, and to find, the good, amazing, special, and wonderful things about your child.

I will remind him and YOU of those good amazing special wonderful things, over and over again.

And when another parent comes to me, with concerns about YOUR child…

I will tell them all of this, all over again.


With so much love;


Update, November 24, 2014: Many of you have contacted me, asking for ways to help THAT kid, or to help spread this message. With enormous gratitude, my latest post describes some ways you can help.

Update, Nov 21, 2014 – Due to the overwhelming popularity of this piece, please note the following, in regards to sharing and distribution. I hate that I have to say this, but I thank you for your understanding.

  • I retain the sole rights to the piece, and it cannot be re-printed or re-posted in its entirety, without my express permission.
  • You are most welcome to share the link to the original piece in whatever form you choose, to whatever population you choose.
  • Bloggers and websites are welcome to share an excerpt (up to 200 words), with a link back to the original post.
  • If you wish to re-post the piece in its entirety, on any website or network, please contact me to ask for my permission to do so.
  • If you wish to translate the piece in its entirety, for any purposes, please contact me for my permission to do so.
  • If you wish to include the piece in any print publication, including newsletters or newspapers, please contact me for my permission to do so.


Note: comments on this post are heavily moderated. I am delighted to host productive, respectful conversation, but am not comfortable being the venue for attacks on teachers, parents, children or “the system”. I wrote this post as a call to compassion and understanding; comments that are not aligned with that purpose will not be approved. Thank you for your understanding. 

1,105 Responses to “Dear Parent: About THAT kid…”

  1. […] THAT kid […]

  2. […] French & International School in Canada. The following post, which appeared on her blog, Miss Night’s Marbles and which I am republishing with her permission, is a powerful open letter directed to parents about […]

  3. Erin Swanborn says:

    So good. Thank You for taking the time to write this, and more importantly, thank you for the amazing work you do every day.

  4. Karen Wallace says:

    We have been having similar issue to this in school. I am a head of a small primary school in Essex UK. Please may I send a copy of your “That Child” (with all the accreditation to you of course) home to my parents in one of my news letters? I think it may help a few of them think twice about our more needy children

  5. […] to know classmates and find out more about them, there always seems to be this fear around “THAT child“. “THAT child” can be so many different […]

  6. Grady Abby says:

    It was important to me, thanks to the author for taking out some of your precious time and sharing your thoughts on this topic. I like the valuable information on about kid you provide in your articles.

  7. […] of early childhood education at the Calgary French & International School in Canada, blogger at Miss Night’s Marbles. An exceptionally compassionate human being.  If there was more empathy at school, if school could […]

  8. […] Dear Parent, About THAT Kid from Miss Night’s Marbles […]

  9. Marinda says:

    This is beautiful and should remind us that every child/person has a story worth listening to and a soul worth loving. THAT child and the child that is affected by THAT child. Parenting and teaching can be hard, but if you do it with your heart, your impact will be significant!

  10. Emma says:

    I read this several years ago, thought it good, and went on with my life.
    I come to write now because of some recent experiences that makes me appreciate all the more teachers like yourself.

    I am not the mother of THAT kid. Rather, I am the mother of the average kid of no particularly significant trials. That is, until this school year.

    I am the mother of the kid who came home in tears, bruised, beaten, and, I hate to say it, sexually abused by THAT kid. I am the mother who held my daughter as she screamed that she couldn’t go to school because of how THAT kid, with all his trials and struggles of which I could only be vaguely and incompletely aware, singled her out for attacks. I am the mother who stayed up late with her as she sobbed into her pillow, took her to a counselor to help her deal with THAT kid’s impulse to grope her.

    And I am also the mother who went to the teacher who had no idea what was happening to my daughter. The teacher who, being human, was unable to watch these students at every moment. Yet was still the teacher who heard our struggles, who allowed us to cry, who made no excuse for THAT kid but also shared no more than she had to concerning THAT kid. The teacher who promised to make it right. The teacher who went to all necessary parties to set up a plan that protected and supported my daughter but still continued, as far as I could see and guess, fight for THAT kid. Just as she fought for my kid.


  11. […] read this blog post a couple of years ago  when it was first written.  I understood it then from a teachers’ […]

  12. Fateme v says:

    YOU ARE AN ANGEL !!! I mean a REAL angel !!! You have no idea how much i fell in love with you sweetheart and I hope you can keep up ur good work everyday and don’t get tired if anything!! God bless you

    From an Iranian girl 🙂

  13. […] I wrote about That Kid, which went viral in (what I have since learned is) the purest, most genuine way of going viral. I […]

  14. klyaksa says:

    So let’s imagine a similar scenario how it would apply to us, instead of out children. You have a co-worker who is rude, verbally abusive, throws and breaks things when s/he is frustrated. The co-worker could be dealing with a loved one who is sick, could be going through a nasty divorce, could be dealing with untreated emotional difficulties that make self-control a challenge. You could try to be sympathetic to the underlying cause, you could give your co-worker the benefit of the doubt. But, really, how long are you going to put up with these work conditions before you either a) complain to your boss/HR and demand that the offending behaviors be somehow curbed or b) look for another job where you wouldn’t have to put up with these conditions? I see a lot of comments on here advocating “tolerance” and “inclusion” and waxing poetic about what a great learning experience it is for a grade-schooler to have to deal with a constant source of stress and physical aggression. And children don’t have the option of going to another school or advocating for themselves; we, their parents, have to do it for them.

    • MaggieSays says:

      As the mother of THAT child, my experience is that when my child became too aggressive the mainstream classroom was no longer suitable for them. There is another option, and sometimes it does take an external force like a concerned parent calling the school to get the changes of classroom environment going. It wasn’t convenient for us, but it was the best choice for my child.

      • Klyaksa says:

        That’s my point – you advocate for your child, you don’t blindly trust the system whose workings you are not privy to, to come through for you.

    • Liam says:

      Some people are like THAT.

      Sometimes it’s even your boss who acts like THAT.
      Let alone, your spouse turns into THAT person over the years.
      Or, maybe even your elected government official is THAT person.

      How to deal with “difficult” people is a skill that requies mastery.
      I don’t have it all figured out, that’s for certain.

      Sometimes the devil THAT you know, is better than the devil THAT you don’t know.

      You can’t outrun people like THAT.

      There will always be another right around the corner.

      Is it easy, no way…

  15. […] For the full article, read the entire post here… […]

  16. Jessica M says:

    Beautiful and heartfelt post, thank you for writing this. So many parents can’t see the full picture then get upset and come back on the teacher as if they aren’t doing anything about the issues and problems or trying to maintain a safe and healthy environment for everyone and it’s frustrating to not have the ability to speak up. Although, I don’t understand why some people can’t see that you aren’t excusing the behavior but explaining the why and the what (you’re doing) that you can’t say under normal circumstances.

    • klyaksa says:

      I think the question that the author of the article is not really answering is this – how much of their children’s education and comfort should the parents of the other kids in THAT child’s class be willing to sacrifice while the teacher is doing something she cannot talk to them about to get THAT child help? I get that it is probably extremely frustrating to be unable to let other parents know what you are doing about the problem behavior. But other parents send their children to school to be educated as well and it is not fair to expect them to blindly trust the teacher to fix the problem when they just see half of it.

      • Liam says:

        Unfortunately, to make matters worse, in many cases the teacher will have the student for only one year.
        The students have THAT kid in their class every year.

  17. Jordan says:

    As a foster mom, we’ve had our fair share of those kids. While I appreciate this letter and its sentiments, I’m troubled by the comments. Being “inclusive” should never come at the expense of other children. When you parent children like these, be it for a few months to years, they are truly screaming out for boundaries. Children function best with rules. It is not okay or fair for my child to hit another child. It is not okay or fair for my child to demolish the property of other children. Those things are not permitted.

    By all means, other kids need to learn to be understanding and kind. However, MY kids need to also learn that if they behave poorly and are cruel, they will not have the attention and companionship that they so desperately desire. Without teaching THOSE kids those essential pieces of wisdom, they will never truly flourish.

    You MUST advocate for your child if they are being bullied. So often in today’s world, no one wants to be perceived as the person who isn’t inclusive. But as someone who has had countless meetings like these, we need to know. Parents can’t correct the problem if teachers are not made aware and then tell the parent.

    And finally, on autism. We have had a couple of children with autism, too. While, yes, that is its own set of challenges, children with autism have to learn to be productive members of society, too. Stop tiptoeing around them. If a child of mine has a challenge like that, it is just that- a challenge. It may be a bit more difficult for them to function in this setting, but it is NOT an obstacle that cannot be overcome. Do not fall into this self defeating rhetoric. It benefits no one.

  18. […] Dear Parent: About THAT Kid – This is a blog post that was published almost two years ago that is as meaningful to us now as it was back then. It’s a post worth reading, and will hopefully have as big an impact on you as it does on us. […]

  19. […] I was reading an article on Early Learning this week about behaviour management, I came across two powerful messages about children and how we see them and in turn how we deal with behaviours within society. The first one is a story written by a Calgary teacher on “That Child” and the second one was by Rita Pierson called “Every Child Needs a Champion”. […]

  20. Denise says:

    Thank you for this heartfelt letter.

    From a teacher, and a mother

  21. Helen says:

    Dear teacher,
    As sweet and compassionate as your letter was, it still didn’t help my concern, which is my safety. I would pay for this child’s therapy, I would carpool for her, volunteer or help his or her single parent financially. But I want to know my child is SAFE. It’s my job and your job too to provide that safety. With those special kids that safety is in a jeopardy.
    It’s sad.

  22. Brenda Power says:

    As a grandma of THAT child, thank you ❤️

  23. […] artigo foi originalmente publicado no blog Miss Night’s Marbles, republicado aqui com permissão, traduzido e adaptado porSarah […]

  24. Jo says:

    I had to explain to my children the difference between having a disability and the behaviours people might display. That having a disability or learning difficultly does not mean you automatically have anti social behaviour, They are two separate things. Then I explained the importance of having expectations of children with disabilities. If we expect bad behaviour from someone and that’s the message they constantly receive, then why would they be good? People with a disability are capable. Having a disability is not an excuse for bad behaviour. I explained to my children, if a child has excuses made for them all the time then how will they ever learn to make changes? Sure they may need more learning opportunities or different strategies to learn but they are capable of learning and making good choices. If a child with a disability displays a behaviour that is not acceptable, then they should be given the opportunity to learn boundaries and consequences just like everyone else. To deny these opportunities is to the detriment of the child and sets them up for more undesirable situation, alternately reducing their potential to achieve their best selves.

  25. Kahlia says:

    While this is extremely old now, I wanted to share how I first came across it. My mother sent me the link after a day I was feeling particularly sensitive and anxious after once again having a meeting with my sons kinder teacher due to extreme behaviour… my sons are “that child” now diagnosed as autistic back then I didn’t know and struggled daily. It reading this article made me feel a lot better as I tended to avoid other parents and worried the teachers were judging us. Now I have gone back to university to study teaching and still this article inspires me.

  26. […] I daresay we’ve all seen the letter by now. An incredibly beautiful piece written by a devoted teacher and a wonderful woman, regarding the parents who complain about such-n-such child of such-n-such trouble in the classroom. If you have not yet read it, here it is. […]

  27. Beautiful!! Your students are so lucky to have you as their teacher and I hope your principal appreciates you. Would that we all could be as understanding, respectful and patient as you.

  28. Macpea says:

    I am currently trying to find the happy medium between inclusion and protecting my child from physical violence in the classroom and anxiety related to uncontrollable outbursts of “THAT” student in her 2nd grade classroom. I completely empathize with the struggles and challenges of “THAT” child’s parents, and I’m attempting to be open minded and supportive of all solutions, however at this point we’ve lost countless hours of instruction time which my child deserves due to these outbursts. It’s not fair to ask 25 other students to sacrifice so much all the time.

    I see lots of parents of “THAT” child saying their kid is being called names as if that makes the violence okay. It isn’t! If my child was violent it would be completely unacceptable, all kids get called names at some point, and although it’s horrible to experience I wouldn’t justify my kids behavior because of it.

    We’re all struggling in different ways, but school should be a safe haven and what many parents are asking essentially is that I sacrifice my child’s safety for your child’s IEP. The law is on “THAT” kids side, but what about the other students? “THAT” kids parents are probably good people and worry about other students safety as well, but when my child is too afraid to enter the classroom then I have a real problem.

    • Heather Baxendale says:

      Your child is learning valuable life skills that don’t come from a book. Compassion. Understanding. Flexibility. Awareness of the differences of others. An ability to work in less than ideal circumstances. Loss of the naivety that children from happy, nurturing homes develop about the world. My son is only 2, but I will be grateful for ‘That Kid’ someday.

      • Everyone says this. Oh, it’s okay for the other kids to be abused and hit by THAT kid because they are learning valuable life skills. No, no. That is never okay. Stop pretending that anyone is for the better because no one stands up to the kid who is wandering around hitting people.

      • klyaksa says:

        No, her child is learning that her classroom is not a safe place to be because THAT child is causing frequent disruptions and can be violent and teachers cannot protect her. You can decide to be grateful for THAT child when yours is old enough to be in school and doesn’t want to go to school in the mornings because of anxiety. No environment is ideal, there will always be some problems, but I highly doubt any of the “inclusion”-advocating adults here would personally put up with a violent abusive co-worker.

        • Marinda says:

          You can’t compare children to adults. Although you have valid points, the focus should be on how we can help THAT child to not grow up into THAT adult.

          • klyaksa says:

            The point is not to compare children to adults. The point is that if you have a problematic peer in your group, you CAN choose to leave the group and find another – or to stay and try to help that peer improve. When we stick kids in a class with THAT kid, they have the same dynamic but, unlike adults, they don’t get to make a choice about it. We force our choices on the kids and somehow parents are expected to choose options that are harming their own children to serve someone else’s agenda.

          • Jen says:

            We can help THAT child without sacrificing the other children in the class. Physical abuse should NEVER be accepted.

          • Backroads says:

            So you’re saying adults should have the right to choose their associates, but kids just need to be quiet and tolerate abuse?

            Of course we can’t compare kids and adults. But adults have skills and patience kids don’t often have.

            Of course we want them to develop these skills. But just putting them in bad situations and hoping they figure it out doesn’t work.

            Please, stop telling these kids their safety and wellbeing is of less importance.

      • Backroads says:

        Can you prove this? Can you prove that kifd who do not receive support and protection from teachers learn all these lessons? What study are you citing? Or are you just hoping this happens?

    • Jenna says:

      What needs to be understood is that sometimes parents of “that” child don’t want them disrupting your child’s class, either, but they are just as stuck and frustrated as you are. They fight and fight for more time out of the mainstream classroom and to be placed in a more appropriate setting, but are met with red tape because they’re “too smart” for full time special education.

      We have three kids who are “that kid” due to autism and three who are outstanding honor roll students who have never seen the inside of the principal’s office. We struggle with the balance of knowing we would be upset if our NT child’s learning was being disrupted like we know our ASD kids can distrupt, but our hands are tied. We want nothing more for our kids to behave better and everyone to get the education they deserve. We are embarrassed to go to school functions with those kids’ classrooms because we know we are being judged because they don’t know we have other children who don’t act like this. We spend hours crying because we just don’t know what to do anymore because nothing works and we know the school, teacher, our child, the other children and parents and even ourselves are upset by the situation.

      No one wants your child to feel unsafe or lose on educational time, but often times there are no other choices provided–our kids are mandated by law to go to school and homeschooling them isn’t an option for everyone–not only do some parents work, but some rely on ST, OT, etc. that is provided by the school system to help their child develop and move past this. Some kids need the social structure and parents may not be able to afford other enrichment activities that would provide socialization.

      This is important because if you take a child who is not functioning well as a child and lock them away or limit their potential, you’re setting the stage for them to be non-functioning adults who will rely on others to care for them by way of assistance programs or more because they never learned how to function in society. Teaching them to adapt and control themselves is better for themselves and the taxpayers in the long term, but maturity takes a long time, especially to those behind developmentally.

  29. Greg says:

    Why isn’t this required to be included in every parent’s kindergarten handbook? To set these expectations for parents early in their children’s education would be so helpful for everyone in the long run.

  30. Shannon says:

    Thank you!
    from a parent of THAT CHILD

  31. De says:

    Would really like to share this with the rest of my fellow staff members.

  32. A very well written article and it catches the situation in the school where I work. It is interesting to note that there is little mention of any in classroom help for the special needs children. In the school where I work there are EPA’s (educational Program assistants) who are in the classrooms with most special needs children from the time they arrive to the time they go home. We (I am an EPA) are all the things you write about and more to these children. We try our best to enable That child to participate safely in the education system while trying to ensure that the other children are also kept safe from any actions of our children. It is not easy to balance the rights of both groups of children (privacy, safety, education, social development……..) but we are trained to help with the diagnosed condition (where there is one , or two , or more) and we are constantly learning ways to ensure that That kid and all other children in the class and in the school obtain an education in a safe and nurturing environment.

    The Teachers are all and more that you say, they also have to teach around having EPA’s (there could be 2 or more in a class depending on the number of children who need the help), specialists and sometimes administration interacting within the class on a consistent basis.

    Does it address the concerns of parents? somewhat: but not entirely as no one can predict and react to stop some behaviors 100% of the time. What can be done is to minimize the chance of anyone being injured while providing all children in the class an opportunity to develop to their potential while gaining an understanding of inclusion (from both sides).

    This I believe will give us a better society and will help the children develop into well rounded and compassionate adults. I would suggest that all parents take an active interest in their children education and to talk to the Teachers and other professionals who are working (and worrying) about both That Kid and your child. Please do talk to us as none of us can work in isolation and together we can ensure that school is a rewarding and positive experience for all the children whom you have entrusted to us to educate. They are our future and I for one am very hopeful when I see what all of them can accomplish with support of the full community.

    Just my 2 cents worth from the inside of a classroom working with 2 of Those kids daily.

  33. Maggie says:

    Dear Teacher,

    I wanted to let you know, as the mother of THAT child, the one who came for all the meetings crying, the one was kicked out of school for aggression and sent to the special center, the one who learned to read in fourth grade because her learning disabilities couldn’t be addressed until her emotional issues settled down, the one who struggles with anxiety and depression, the one who learned to control her hands and then her words, and is learning to control her facial expressions, that she is going to graduate high school this year. She is going to go to college. She has a plan. She has friends. She talks on the phone all night now. She wants to be a writer, but is going to do something more practical during the day. I wanted to let you know that the sleepless nights, the worrying in the shower, the impassioned pleas to your coworkers is worth it. It is hard. We all cried a lot. But THAT kid can be a successful kid.

    I just wanted you to know.
    A Mom of One of Those Kids

  34. I read this and I completely understand where it’s coming from and I even agree that compassion is absolutely called for when faced with “challenging” children.

    BUT…all of what was written here is beside the point, which is thew education of your child. My grand-daughter was being bullied at school, when she was in the first grade. She’s a child whose little brain works at warp speed and is HUNGRY to learn. She told me that a larger girl was picking on her and making her not want to go to school. I knew that school administrators are frequently ham-strung by the system’s lawyers and told they can’t discipline unruly kids because – sing it with me now! – “we might get sued!” I called the principal and said, “Look, I know you guys are limited in what you can do about kids bullying, so let me be the bad guy. I’ll go to this girl’s parents and explain that she can either knock it off or I’ll sue them. That work for you?” His voice got shaky, probably imagining the hell that would ensue, and assured me that he’d handle it. Which he did.

    I’m not insensitive to the circumstances that prompt a child to bully. Frequently, it’s a misguided cry for acceptance. But that understanding does NOT mean that we do nothing to curb that child’s excesses. In the final anaylsis, it’s each parent’s responsibility to see to THEIR OWN child’s education. Group therapy can be done outside school hours. During the school day, EVERY child has the absolute right to learn unimpeded. Am I, then, more protective than compassionate? ABSOLUTELY, and that’s exactly as it should be.

    • Short bus Mom says:

      I don’t believe you have to choose compassion vs. protectiveness.
      As a mom of 4 of THOSE kids I can tell you while sure therapy can be done outside school hours, many of us can’t afford any more therapies. Many of us don’t have the time for more therapies. They are in school from 8-3 every day. They come home have 30 minutes to rest. 1 hour of chores. 1 hour of homework and then supper. After that it’s in the bath and bed. Where does counseling and therapy fit in? Often these kids aren’t bullies. These kids just want friends. Children must learn to also solve their problems and then if necessary approach administration.

      My issue is instead of compassion you fought for your rights first. Disheartening that it’s the example set. For my children I’ve taught them to be selfless not selfish. If you befriend others and look for what they need before what you need, the world will be a happier place.

      • Jordan says:

        You are dead wrong, Short bus Mom. No. I will not apologize for demanding that children not be bullied. I do not care who it is by. Your rights (and the rights of THAT child) stop at the end of my child’s nose.

        I am disturbed and really heartbroken that so many of you think it is ok that a child is getting bullied. It is NOT okay. You can say “Often these children aren’t bullies.” Some aren’t. Some are. You have to take Stevefoolbody’s words as truth. If he says his daughter is being bullied, you should not come back and tell him he is lying about it and is there for not “inclusive” because he is demanding that his child not be harmed. Being selfless means that if it is YOUR child who is THAT child, you take measures to protect other children. It does not mean you blindly defend your own because he or she can’t control themselves.

        Please check that attitude that he set a poor example. If you have not been paying attention to exactly how much havoc bullying can have on a child’s life, then I suggest you do so and please stop insulting those who advocate for their children.

  35. Kimberly says:

    Thank you. I’m putting my child in pre k and trying to write a letter to the parents informing them about my special Boy. ASD SPD
    not sure how much I should tell or try to educate? I just want them to understand before judge. The parents need to help their children understand. Most parents do not:(

    • Klyaksa says:

      I think it’s just fine to help other parents (and children) to understand. When people are educated and have some idea of what to expect and how to deal, they will be more accepting. That would create a more nurturing environment for you child, as well as provide a learning experience for the other kids. My problem with the original article is that the teacher is expecting parents to trust her in absence of adequate information or results. Being reassured that she would advocate for other children in her class is cold comfort.

  36. […] To conclude, it seems that a combination of good teachers, willing parents and mutual understanding is key to making this ‘partnership’ work – a theory that is so powerfully and eloquently communicated in Murray’s thought provoking article http://missnightmutters.com/2014/11/dear-parent-about-that-kid.html. […]

  37. Matt Renwick says:

    Powerful post Amy. I’ve sat on commenting for a while because I wanted to see how others responded.

    First, very well written. Your post contains a lot of compassion. I can really tell you care about your kids and staff.

    I will say this: Every parent is biased toward their child, me included. That said, I don’t think it is unreasonable for a parent to inquire about how behaviors of a disruptive student are being addressed. There are potential negative effects as a result of one child’s behaviors on the academics and emotional well-being of others.

    In addition, being an administrator as long as I was a teacher, I have discovered that we can share some general details with a concerned parent about how a school addresses another student’s actions. I’ve often shared with a concerned parent that we are providing additional support for a child in question, and that his or her parents were involved. Nothing specific. Unless rules are different in Canada, an educator using this type of generic language is not out of compliance with student information privacy law. Don’t hold me to it: check the rules out yourself.

    Furthermore, I think it is a slippery slope when we start sympathizing with a child’s plight, and start accepting these outside factors as a result of his or her school behaviors. Certainly we can have a compassion for a student’s situation, and even connect their home circumstances as a function of their actions in the classroom and beyond. But every child deserves a free and appropriate public education. No student’s IEP, 504, or individualized behavior plan trumps FAPE. When we sympathize instead of empathize, I believe it can lead to a decrease of student expectations. There may be a fine line between accommodation and enabling.

    This leads into my final concern. I’m sure you are a fantastic school teacher and leader. Others under your watch probably are as well. But many schools have teachers who are subpar. Their instruction and ability to address student behaviors are lacking. A better teacher may be able to address certain behaviors and mitigate them, largely through their excellent, responsive instruction. Do we tell the concerned parents, “Thank you for expressing your concerns.” without also considering this factor? If instruction is lacking and the behaviors are partially a result of this, shouldn’t a parent share these concerns and expect administrators to promptly address them if accurate?

    I comment here because I respect your work and I see you have struck a chord, which has led to lots of questions and different perspectives. This is a conversation worth continuing. Thank you for being brave and posting it on your site, Amy.


  38. […] response to Mrs. Knights Marbles, about “that kid”, I wanted to share my […]

  39. […] Dear Parent: About THAT kid… […]

  40. Parent of other child says:

    I am not the parent of THAT child. I am a parent of one of the other children that has THAT child in their classroom. Until this year, I was oblivious to the idea that THAT child even existing in my child’s classroom. That all changed this year. One day another parent contacted us and asked if we were aware of what my child had experienced at school. We were not, so we asked my child. On two separate occasions my child was physically and verbally assaulted by THAT child. Stunned we contacted the school and setup a conference. As you state in the article, we were told that they could not discuss anything about THAT child with us. I was fine with that. I was not there to find out more about THAT child, but rather I wanted to know what was being to done to insure my child did not have to live in fear while at school. We were assured my child’s safety, and the safety of all the students were their utmost concern, and that was all we could be told. A week goes by. Another phone call from the school. THAT child wrapped an arm around my child’s neck, lifted my child off the ground, and put a finger gun to my child’s head and threatened to kill him. The very next day, THAT child was sitting in class with my child. At what point does THAT child’s rights start superseding my child’s rights? My child has had no altercations with any other child in the school. My child feels as though THAT child is “targeting” my child. At what point can I specifically ask about THAT child and expect a response?

    • Matt Renwick says:

      See my comment above, “Parent of other child”. As a veteran teacher and administrator, I believe you should always be able to inquire about the conditions of a classroom, how problems are being addressed, and expect a response. There is nothing unreasonable about this. Every child deserves a great education.

    • I’m a parent of “that child” who had behavioral issues in school. Why? Because he has a very rare condition – childhood onset schizophrenia. His first mental illness diagnosis was at age 4.

      I can tell you that my child did (I use past tense because he has graduated high school now) put his hands on other students about a dozen times between first grade and graduation. I can tell you that he yelled at other kids. He threw chairs. He cried in a fit of anger, pacing around the room.

      I can also tell you that 90% of the time it was because his classmates made him feel different. He yelled at the classmate who giggled and stared when his friends called my son a retard. He grabbed the arm of a student who, three days ago, threw something at him. He even threw a chair at a teacher who belittled him in front of the class.

      I will also say that the incidents of yelling and hitting and furniture throwing at home were 50 times more than they were at school, because he tried so hard to keep the voices and paranoia at bay while at school, it all flowed out of him once he got to the safety of home.

      He was in therapy. He was on medication. He was hospitalized 12 times. He was moved to a special education classroom for 90% of the day. Because of this, he wasn’t allowed on field trips. Or on teams. Or to special assemblies. His medication needed adjustment monthly because he was, as most boys are, growing so fast.

      With every incident, I felt horrible and wanted to reach out to the parents of the child he yelled at or touched. I was advised, by school staff, not to do so.

      Eventually, we sent him to a residential school, where he went until he completed the 12th grade. He finally made his first friend there, because there, there was no giggling on the playground or pointing from the back of the class.

      I have other children besides “that child.” I sympathize with what your son deals with. He shouldn’t have to live in fear.

      And my son shouldn’t have had to endure his classmates whispering under their breath, pointing, and making sure he knew, no matter how subtle, he was less than.

  41. sandidvSandi says:

    I am a parent of a THAT child.. and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  42. Philippa says:

    As a mother of one of ‘those’ children…….i can only say….thank youpjc

  43. Martha says:

    I read this column reprinted in the Washington Post today. You’re clearly a wonderful teacher as well as writer, and I am so grateful for what you’re doing for “those” kids, who do indeed deserve appreciation, love, and patience from everyone.

    And yet your column left me feeling a little sad for some of the other children–the ones who are on the receiving end of the pinches, blows, and ugly words. As a parent, I could not help noticing throughout my son’s early grade-school years that the injured children in these encounters often came away from them under the impression that the teacher cared more about the “difficult” child who was hurting people than she did about the ones being hurt. I think this was because, for some children, attention from the teacher is deeply desired, and the amounts each child in the classroom receives are carefully measured and compared, without the reason for an apparent imbalance necessarily being taken into account. For quiet children in particular, the effects can be quite confusing and destructive, as they can end up thinking that they have somehow deserved this treatment from the other child, and/or that they are less important to the teacher than that child–even when they know that his or her behaviour is wrong.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to address this problem. Reassurance by the victim’s parents doesn’t always do much, particularly when they’re also trying to encourage their child to be understanding, kind, and appreciative of all his classmates, including the one who keeps hitting him.

  44. […] one! From a teachers of THAT child and THOSE children to another and to anyone who will listen: ” Dear Parent: I know. You’re worried. Every day, your child comes home with a story about THAT kid. The one who […]

    • H.B. says:

      Thank you for posting :That Child”. My son has been “that child” in is four year preschool. It is difficult when then teacher is not a strong supporter for your child. I wish his teacher had had the prospective talked about in this article. Please remember it is hard for the parent know that her child is not an accepted part of the class room.

  45. Kerra Tibeau says:

    You are the kind of teacher that students (and parents) will remember and be so thankful for. I have 4 year old triplets all in preschool currently. 2 boys and a little Diva. They are all so different and as soon as you have them figured out… they throw a curveball at you and rock your world all over again. I love the preschool teachers we have. They dont just teach my children, they love them. I mean, truly love them. And my children love and respect them, too. My daughter used to have a hard time when I would drop them off and the teachers would hug her and have her ‘help’ on a project so I could walk out the door. Now, she is very independent and has no problem with me leaving. My boys, however have become insecure with me leaving, one more so then the other. The teachers have to pry him off of me while he cries. He is fine within a few minutes of me leaving, but I always apologize for the attention taken from other children to console mine. I am constantly concerned that the bad behavior my child has at home will happen at school and how that will affect the other students and the teachers. 3 children born together, raised together, loved the same, taught the same, and are DIFFERENT. Parents need to be involved and share things with their teachers. Things at home can have a huge affect on children at school. Its hard enough to be a a parent to your own child, but to teach an entire classroom of ‘other people’s children’… you deserve a cape. Teaching is a superpower. Thank you for being the kind of teacher that loves the children and this mom truly appreciates. You.Are.Amazing.

  46. […] Dear Parent: About THAT Kid… – This post inspired my first one on the list. It is very helpful and interesting to have a teacher’s perspective on this subject. […]

  47. Heather C says:

    I loved this article. As a first grade teacher, I can relate so well. We have 32 children and each one brings beautiful gifts and beautiful struggles. There are those who can be disruptive because they are on the spectrum or have ADHD, those who disrupt because they are hungry, or unsettled because their parents are getting divorced, or any number of family issues. Those who just can’t stay on in their chair. Or some are just so full of love and life and ideas and want to talk ALL the time. And there are a few ‘good’ ones, who are always on task and quiet. But also need a lot of attention because every slight or boo-boo sends them into a melancholic state, and their parents write to you every night about every injustice perceived by the child. “Just to let you know, Dear Sue, said the So and so did not play with her today”. And we have not even touched academics: The vast range of development across the curriculum. The teacher’s job is HUGE. And our greatest wish and desire is to help your children realize their greatest potential, to nurture their gifts or unearth THEM, because they can be hidden under barriers (like family issues, medical issues, social issues, emotional issues, etc. etc.). And to develop and cultivate areas that still need strengthening. EVERY child has both. But we grown-ups need to think differently. Not only about my own personal self-interest, but about communities. Your kid’s teacher is likely trying to teach your children how to be kind, patient, compassionate and responsible. Your kid’s teacher likely loves every child in the room and wants to protect every one of them from harm. Including THAT kid.

  48. Sarah says:

    I am the mother of “That” Child. My daughter suffers from anxiety and when she is anxious she has trouble containing herself (it has dwindled down to disruptive behavior but her behavior use to involve more peer relation problems). We have had parents of the other children complain to both teachers and administration… What the parents of the other children don’t know is that even though they continue to complain (when they see or hear about an outburst) her behavior has improved dramatically yet complaints continue as if the child or I should be able to stop the behavior in it’s tracks… this is not possible. It is a learning process, it is a difficult process of changing behavior (any behavior change is difficult at any age)… and trying to control someone else’s behavior is impossible (but trying to help a child change their behavior is harder than changing your own). These negative words, and looks of irritation in the classroom when you volunteer or when you come to eat lunch with your child and see “That” child, you have that uneasy feeling and unintentionally give “that look”. “That” Child is perceptive and notices it… “That” Child brings it home and cries to her mom about it, or worse… internalizes it and becomes more anxious. — Adult’s reaction to this behavior and reactions around “That” child make it harder for “that” child to cope in the already Anxious situation… thus intensifying “That” child’s behavior in a negative way.

    I agree that “That” Child, “MY CHILD” is disruptive and you consider her a “problem”… and although I spend 50% of my time worrying about what she is doing when she is at school … I spend the other 50% worrying about how your child is being affected. But in order for her to learn how to cope in the classroom environment she has to actually experience it. And in order for your child to be able to interact with individuals in the real world that have been shunned and isolated because of their behavior as a child… it is necessary for your child to be able to experience my child, “That” Child.

    I know it is an impossibility for you to imagine if your child was “That” child because they are not… they don’t have outbursts, or tantrums, or anxiety, or trouble relating to their peers. They don’t allow their fears to take hold of them and act irrationally. But I can promise you that if your child was “That” child… you too would cry every night knowing that there are parents out there that want to exclude your child and want to push them away that won’t invite her to birthday parties… there are parents out there telling their “normal” children not to play with your “That” child. Your heart would break daily for your “That” child… and you would do as I am doing, as other parents and teachers of “That” child are doing… actively providing them with the help and tools that they need to interact, to control themselves, and to survive life (not just 1st grade). But it does take time– and it takes longer when Adults who interact with your “That” Child aren’t on the same page.

    PS- I know that all you care about is “YOUR” child… but what you don’t understand or realize that you are not the only person who cares about your child… the teachers care, the administration cares but mostly the parent of “That” child cares too and is doing everything in their power to help their “That” Child change their behaviors.

    • Jen75 says:

      I do truly feel for you but how can you expect parents to invite a child that “has outbursts, tantrums, anxiety and trouble relating to peers” into their homes for a party? I totally understand giving “that” child more attention in the classroom…but you can’t expect another parent to accept responsibility for “that” child while monitoring may other children. I would never tell my child to not play with “that” child but I will not accept responsibility for them outside of school.

      • Sarah says:

        Jen- I truly don’t expect the birthday invitations… My daughter and I notice that they don’t come and that coupled with children telling her that “their Mommy or Daddy told me not to play with you anymore” breaks my heart and hers too. I do not expect another parent to take responsibly in their home or public venue of my “that” child. My concern is primarily parents teaching their children to be intolerant to others with emotional disabilities. Because children with emotional disabilities already feel like they are different and don’t fit in… And parents instructing their children not to play or associate with “that” child (who at young ages will tell “that” child what was said) add additional stress and anxiety and feelings of isolation to a child that is already having social issues and trouble trying to feel like they fit in. I am glad that you would not tell your child not to play with “that” child and I don’t expect anyone other than myself to take responsibility of her outside of school. My pain and my daughter’s pain comes from parents that want to “do something about ‘that’ child” and attempt to force the teacher’s hand and the schools hand to take additional action on a situation that has improved. Sometimes suspension, or changing classrooms which do nothing more than leave “that” child confused and adds to their feelings of inadequacy, increasing their Anxiety and causing them to start over at ground zero.

        • Noah says:

          As both a parent and a teacher (one who had half a class of 12 students with special needs) I have seen 2 out of the 3 sides here, and have worked closely with parents of the 3rd. However for me the most important is as a parent of the non-special needs child. While i do believe that special needs children need help, they need the help of a properly trained specialist. A teacher should not be focusing time or energy on “that” child, “that” child should be with someone there for that purpose. As for parents complaining to administration I believe it is necessary to provide the services needed for “that” child.

          • that mother says:

            …and this Noah is why I choose to homeschool my “that” child because of views like yours that have decided early on that my child is not capable of contributing to this world and that they have little to offer. What a shame to read you are employed as a “teacher”. (for the record I am a trained and experienced teacher myself so am not anti school or teachers but I have met with this attitude from many teachers and its so sad because the parents pick up on it loud and clear).

          • Clare says:

            I am so very glad that you, Noah, are NOT the teacher of my children. Either of them. The one with autism who is ‘that’ child or the one that is not ‘that’ child.
            As a parent of both a special needs child and a neurotypical child I can guarantee you that my ‘that’ child suffers a much harder time in school than my other child who simply shares his classroom with ‘those’ children.

    • THAT kid is my kid says:

      My 7 yr old daughter is also “that” child. It’s hard. Lots of tears. No one knows, yet, why she behaves the way she does. She’s in two types of counseling, twice a week. She’s so anxious she self harms at least once a week. She started hitting the other kids. She doesn’t understand why they call her weird. I don’t know what to do. I’m scared for her & whoever she is around. I wish there was a switch I could flip that made it easier for her to act like everyone else. She was suspended from first grade last week. I’m trying. I cry with her teachers & counsellors.

  49. […] first, let me clarify. I am not a parent. But I read this article by miss night’s marbles. And I fell in love. I was studying education when my father passed and this article spoke to me. […]

  50. […] This post was originally featured on Miss Night’s Marbles. […]

  51. […] links, and if you click through and actually buy stuff, a small percentage of the cost goes to help THAT kid, in a number of […]

  52. […] Zoals elke leraar krijgt ze geregeld vragen van ouders over andere kinderen. In deze brief op haar blog legt ze met veel inleving uit waarom ze die vragen niet kan beantwoorden. Deze vertaling van haar […]

  53. […] links, and if you click through and actually buy stuff, a small percentage of the cost goes to help THAT kid, in a number of […]

  54. […] links, and if you click through and actually buy stuff, a small percentage of the cost goes to help THAT kid, in a number of […]

  55. Kathi McCaw says:

    Beautifully said! Thank you for all you do!

  56. […] This year, teachers and parents around the world were touched by the beautiful writing of Amy Murray in “Dear Parent: About THAT Kid…” http://missnightmutters.com/2014/11/dear-parent-about-that-kid.html. […]

  57. […] viraal en werd duizenden keren gedeeld op de sociale media (de Nederlandse versie vindt u hier, en de Engelse versie hier). De brief riep vele reacties op, zowel van leerkrachten als van ouders, want zo mooi als zij het […]

  58. Evelyn Massaro says:

    When my daughter was in the first grade the teacher sent home a note one day that said “Dear Parent, if you promise not to believe everything your child tells you goes on in our classroom, I promise not to believe everything she says goes on at home.” I thought that was wonderful insight.

  59. Annie says:

    P.S. I wanted to add that I participate in the classroom in my child’s preschool 2-3x month, so I saw the behavior of ‘that’ child first hand, not from my child or other parents. All I can say it scared me and I ended up rescuing a few children personally from direct hits with large objects. The teacher tried to be nice, as she is, but she was literally overwhelmed by ‘that’ child’s presence (yes, climbing into lap, hanging on a leg, interrupting, grabbing and pushing — and that’s what ‘that’ child was doing to the teacher!). And what exactly can you do? I addressed my concerns immediately and the teaching faculty got a helper within a week specifically for ‘that’ child, which improved the chaos that initially erupted. As you can imagine, nobody was really informed about any ‘issues’ when ‘that’ child was enrolled.

  60. Alyson Loewen says:

    Thank you! So beautifully written! My son got Ana absolutely astounding teacher this year and I came across a quote that said “to teach is to touch a life forever” finding teachers who care so deeply for their students every day is wonderful! May you be blessed!

  61. Adrienne S says:

    Thank you so much for this. My kids are THAT kid, and it is overwhelmingly wonderful to hear how much you care, and how much you worry, and what a fantastic job you are doing. I wish every regular classroom teacher could be like this, and that every parent would read and understand this about other children and about their own. Thank you.

  62. I made an interesting discovery when working with victims of bullying in schools (primary and secondary): I always made them (alone, if they were older or with their parents if younger) to record EVERY occurrence in minute detail (who, when, what – place, witnesses, duration, potential reasons/causation/motives/connection with other occurrences previously etc.). Originally I did this because otherwise you won’t stand a chance in a court of law while if you record these incidents over, say, three to six months, a judge is going to accept there’s a pattern and may even issue a restraining order. But to my utter amazement … in almost all cases where kids and parents followed my instructions, “hostilities” eventually ceased! My only explanation is that the respective kid through this got a better self-confidence and it began to show. He/she just got the feeling that there was a remedy on the horizon and proportionally the “bully” got less confident.

  63. […] many of you, I read the post that went viral a few weeks ago – Dear Parent About THAT Kid – and as a teacher I thought of my 15 years of That kids. . Tonight, I saw one of them at […]

  64. Liz says:

    Thanks! I just shared this with my child care team 🙂

  65. mia says:

    Wonderful words thank you, the bit that made tears come to my eyes was the bit about the child feeling better upon hearing a heartbeat. Such a simple human need. Contact = shelter to a child.

    • Cyn cam says:

      That is where I got hit also – and then it was all over!

    • Cynthia says:

      YES… that’s when I lost it too.
      Suddenly I felt that all my years in the classroom were validated, that I wasn’t the only one that felt that way about my little sons and daughters (though I had to return them to their parents at the end of the day).

  66. Rachela says:

    It’s always a challenge when you receive new students in a class because you never know what may happen. You always hope for the best as we have the responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is always safe for all.

    When children with special needs join you always fear for the rest. Is he going to push, bite, hit or hurt without warning signs?

    The best practice is to ensure that special needs children are taken care by assistants/teachers with Special Education background.

    To consider that accidents happen all the time, wether the child is a special needs child or not.

    When children misbehave in class, throw tantrums (related to ALL) the rest of the class is told that “Jimmy” is still learning to behave in school and we must help him to understand what school rules are. Then when “Jimmy” has calmed down, he is given a chance to explain to the class why he’s sad and why he is angry. This is done in a calm and reassuring way. Students then encourage “Jimmy” each one with their own words.

    It is working for our class.

    When parents walk in the office, pretty upset about “That child” did this, or did that, … “We are paying for a good service, and not distractions or for My kid not to get hurt” I definetely take their concerns at heart and ensure that things are taken care of but also explain to a certain extent what we as a school do in order to ensure that all children stay safe and why we embarked in this project, with the inclusion of special needs children in our classes.

    Having a full time assistant for each special needs child is a great reward. At times you see things that other children would never do, for example, “Jimmy” rushes to a child who is sad, to stroke her hair, pat her back and say “Don’t be sad, with tears in his eyes, because he really is sad to see her sad.

    Yes, it is a great challenge but the rewards are far greater than we expect.

    As long as the system in the school is in place, ALL children can live and learn how to live with each other. ALL children can be taught to be understanding to each other and accept the less priviledged.

    This happens wether we have special needs children in the school or not.

    As far as I know, ALL children are a blessing to the community in which we live in.

    Our school would never be the same without “That child”!


  67. […] links, and if you click through and actually buy stuff, a small percentage of the cost goes to help THAT kid, in a number of […]

  68. Thank You for posting about such a difficult topic. My middle and my youngest boys both were THAT child! One had such sever food and environmental allergies that it seemed like in he was in the hospital for the first 7yrs of life. When he was in school he struggled because he was almost always behind. No matter how hard he tried he just couldn’t focus the way that “normal” kids could. We eventually home schooled him, it was easier and less stressful when he was sick; because we could work at his pace so he didn’t fall behind. By time he hit high school, we had a handle on all the health issues so back to school he went. He graduated with 98% in all his classes!
    The other one was extremely shy and social anxiety. I’m very grateful for the teachers who knew what was going on with my sons and gave me much encouragement and support. Both are very active now, hold good jobs and one has a family and they are trying work through their own “THAT Child!”
    I hope your post gets to every family.

  69. […] Night Mutters writes about That Kid, for the parents whose kid isn’t (yet) That Kid. A must read that will bring tears to your […]

  70. Lisa says:

    I love this post!! It just made me cry all the way while I was reading it. This year has not been easy for my son, one of his teachers does not seem to support him with his low frustration tolerance, she actually has made things worse for him. Hopefully she will understand that she has to support him. My kid needs more teachers that think this way, it makes all the difference in the world.

  71. Katey says:

    Phenomenal posts. As a teacher and a parent, this was a much needed reminder and something I want to share with my colleagues. God bless you.

  72. This is such a helpful reminder. Being both a parent and a teacher, I try to live by those words… but sometimes forget. Thank you!

  73. josierenae says:

    I enjoyed reading your work and did write my own blog post as a mother of “THAT” child… I did make sure to reference the link back to this post. http://www.josierenae.wordpress.com

  74. […] infantil Calgary French & International School in Canada. Este post, que publicó en su blog, Miss Night’s Marbles y que aquí reproducimos con su consentimiento, fue traducido por madredemarte, es una carta abierta […]

  75. I am/was a parent of THAT child. I wish that just once in his educational “career” he had had one teacher like you. Thank you for what you do and how your react and for your support of THAT child.

  76. Dave says:

    Thank you for being THAT teacher.

  77. […] friends. I don’t think anything has ever been more daunting than writing a follow-up post to THAT kid. I never, ever, in a million years, dreamed of the response to that piece, and I’m still […]

  78. Annelies Goyvaerts says:

    Dear Amy,
    I love, lóve, LOVE You for writing this beautiful piece!!! I am a mother of four (three boys, one girl), each with their own personality. Our youngest son is THAT kid, the kid with the Autism diagnosis, in a class full of kids whose parents like their kids to be “normal” (or at least pretend they are). Luckily for our Little Magician (as we like to call him), he is surrounded by a loving and enthousiastic team of teachers at school. Teachers who take the effort to give every child at school – regardless their background, diagnosis or situation at home – the chance to settle in, on their own pace.
    Thank You for being THAT teacher!!!
    Kinds Regards,
    Annelies (Belgium)

  79. […] teacher and administrator from Calgary writing a story about encounters with parents about THAT kid, and the teacher’s follow up on the reaction. A message underlying the empathy we all need […]

  80. […] am so delighted to be able to post this beautiful translation of my “Dear Parent: About THAT kid” letter. Heartfelt thanks to Stéphane Auberval, a French student, living in the UK, who […]

  81. AnotherMDmom says:

    Dear Teacher,

    I fully understand and respect that you cannot talk to me about THAT kid. I get it. Not the nature of his problems, not the nature of your interventions. I appreciate that. However, I am not here to talk to you about him. I am here to talk about MY kid. You know, the one who comes home almost every day complaining of being punched (sometimes sporting a black eye to prove it), having his lunch thrown on the floor, having sand thrown in his face, etc. by THAT kid. MY kid, who is starting to be afraid to go to school because of the unpredictability and chaos he has to deal with. I get that THAT kid may very well not be a bully; he may have problems that I couldn’t begin to imagine. However, my main concern is MY kid. And so, dear teacher, what I would like to know is this – what are you doing for MY kid? How do you ensure that his education is not disrupted by THAT kid (either through aggressive behavior or through most of your time being taken up by dealing with THAT kid’s issues). If I ask you these questions and you cannot provide a clear comprehensive answer that deals with MY kid’s concerns, than you really aren’t doing your job, sorry.

    • Gertie says:

      Dear anotherMDmom,
      This is exactly what this teacher is talking about. She clearly states that’s she is concerned about every child in her class: “You see, I worry all the time. About ALL of them.” So please don’t disrespect her. Go talk to YOUR kid’s teacher.

      • Wen says:

        Thanks! You just read my mind. People don’t get the point about TOLERANCE. “I care about me and my children only”

        • MamaBear says:

          Why is it OK to advocate for your special needs child and have an “I care about my and my children only” mindset, but when you advocate for your child who is not special needs, suddenly you are intolerant and lacking compassion? I believe all children have value, all children deserve an environment in which they can learn, develop and thrive. It is the right of EVERY child to have a safe place in which they can do these things. EVERY child deserves to have the same expectation of fair and equal treatment by their teacher. Sometimes, THAT child infringes upon the rights of the other 20+ children in the classroom. Why is it wrong to advocate for THOSE kids as well? There has to be a balance. When preferential treatment is always shown to THAT kid, it sends a message to the other kids and sends them to their parents with questions that we can’t answer because of privacy issues. “Why can Johnny hit people during class and still get to do a special job?” “Why does Susie scream all day but I have to clip down on the behavior chart if I talk?” I can’t answer these questions because I don’t know Johnny and Susie’s situation or if they are diagnosed with a medical issue and I don’t dare speculate or assume. So, teachers, while I commend the extra effort that you put into THAT child, perhaps the OTHER children deserve some sort of explanation so that they’re not made to feel like 2nd class citizens when they behave within the expected social construct. Perhaps the parents of THAT child can be more open with the class and explain it to the kids so that we can help them be more patient and compassionate, but also to understand where the boundaries are so that they don’t lose their rights as a child and student. There’s a lot of room for growth and compassion on both sides of this story. Instead of assuming the worst of any parent, own up to your own parenting and your own child and talk to each other. If you’re the parent of THAT child, please understand that I know you’re trying, my heart breaks for you and your struggles, that I tell my child every day to be patient, but please also understand that we get frustrated, too. It doesn’t make us evil or intolerant; it makes us human. Just because my child isn’t THAT child doesn’t mean we don’t have struggles in our life and our home. It doesn’t mean that I think my child is perfect, because I’m well aware he is as imperfect as I am. It doesn’t mean that your job as a parent is harder because you don’t know our story, either. All it means is that we each have our own journey in raising these little people into the best person they can be. Sometimes that journey involves fighting for our child, regardless of how popular that fight is.

          • autismmommy82 says:

            I have a son with autism. The simplest answer I can give you is parents of special needs kids fight for their kid to keep them from standing out and being THAT kid. We all want the school to provide an aide because we know our child wanders and bolts and don’t want to think about the choice the teacher will have to make between my child who doesn’t know danger and may be injured or die from running off and leaving your child unattended. We want our children to be supported and not at the expense of your child but unfortunately I can tell you they don’t find what the child needs. They fund what they can’t get away with rejecting. The rest is left up to the teacher to try to fill in the gaps even when they are more canyons than gaps. It is not easy for anyone but my child has a right to learn and he is so smart and academically either on point or ahead but his behaviors and communication are still very far behind. Please remember that although you may think we are just fighting for our child we are fighting for all the kids and teacher because we know our child best. We know what it will take to keep things running smoothly and it is not our fault if the school refuses to listen or can’t afford to make the proper adjustment. I say complain higher than the teacher take it to the principal or school board. You might just be the push the parents need to force the schools hand to provide the right support. Unfortunately the teacher has little say and parents have little control. I hope this helps.

          • Clare says:

            “It doesn’t mean that your job as a parent is harder”
            As parent to both a special needs child and a non-special needs child, I can safely say that being parent to a special needs child is WAY harder.

        • Jenna says:

          Why does THAT kid get special treatment? Usually because they have an issue that keeps them from being able to control those behaviors. Because if a child is acting out that severely in a classroom, they likely have an emotional or developmental delay that makes them unequal to your child by way of what they feel/understand/react. My autistic son is a second grader who gets out of his desk and wanders around the room during instruction and who will interrupt the moment something enters his mind–related or unrelated to the topic at hand. When he doesn’t understand why something is happening, when things don’t go according to routine, when he gets overwhelmed he will throw himself on the floor and scream, cry and hit his head on the floor. When his sensory issues are out of whack, he will spin in circles in the hall while in line and bump into others without realizing. He’s also a straight A student and near gifted in intelligence. He has gone from 4-5 severe meltdowns per day to one mild one from K to 2nd grade. He’s gone from 59 behavior write ups in K to 17 in 2nd. He has gone from having the maturity and emotional development of a 2-3 year old in K to a 4-5 year old in 2nd, even though he’s 8. Expecting him to act like an 8 year old when he’s physically and emotionally unable to just isn’t going to end well. Our school district is broke and to get into the autism classroom or full time special-ed, you have to have a below average IQ. We want nothing more than to pull our kid out of your kid’s class because we know how frustrated the other parents are (having 3 autistic and 3 typical children, we see both sides) but are unable to because he’s not severe enough. We are just as unhappy with the situation as you are, but our hands are tied. Kids have to go to school, it’s the law. When you’re paying $350-$500 weekly for outside therapies to try and help them adjust to your child’s classroom, you can’t quit your job to homeschool (and if you do, you lose more precious therapy hours). It’s not a fair situation for anyone involved.

  82. hayan says:

    I believe the trick here is to ask yourself
    “What would Jesus, the Goddess, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Santa Claus, my great uncle Clarence, INSERT AWESOME PERSON’S NAME HERE…do?”
    Don’t get angry at a child for being remarkably imperfect. Try not to get angry at the parents for not controlling their kids however they may try.
    If you can let go of your anger somewhat, kind of, just for a minute then you can model something truly kind for your own children. I am working to do this as my son is not perfect, in a 150 years I may be able to do it.

  83. R&Bguy says:

    In grade school, I was “that kid”–once in 6th grade I was suspended from school for a day. One teacher in particular was very good to me.

    Curling up in a teacher’s lap to hear her heart wasn’t my style, but that line made me cry.

  84. Donna says:

    Though my kids are grown and gone, with families of their own, thank you for this piece on “that” child. It reminded me to pray for the teachers I know, and to pray for the teachers of the kids I know, and maybe, to pray for myself as I encounter “that” child in Sunday School and at Awana, that I would be true to the confidences of parents who share those intimate details with me about THEIR child. Thank you!

  85. THATMom says:

    As a parent to THAT child, the one who was adopted from foster care at age 2 1/2 and experienced more heartache in that short time than most of us will know in a lifetime, the one who, because of his low self-esteem and emotional dysregulation, feels the need to be in control of every situation so that he will not be hurt or let down again, the one who hits, screams, tantrums and cries because he was never taught to properly harness or control his emotions, the one who sees a therapist more times both at home and at school and takes more medication than most adults to help him to control his behavior, the one who has never been invited to a class birthday party…I thank you for posting this letter.

    I wish this letter could go home with every parent in my son’s class – not as an excuse but as an informational piece. I know that when he does throw toys and intentionally annoys his classmates, when he bosses them around on the playground the kids don’t like it and it worries the parent when the kids go home and tell mom and dad all about THAT kid over dinner each night. But as a parent to THAT child, I’m not asking that they like him, only that they try to understand him and why he behaves the way he does. There are so many insinuations that are made about THAT child, and that’s what saddens me. If only THOSE parents knew how hard we are working to help our child. As THAT child’s parent, I cry nearly every day both in sadness for him and in frustration for myself. We don’t want him to go to school acting that way either, we don’t want him to be friendless and alone and we realize that his own behavior put him in that situation, but it is a long road and takes a lot of time to heal and reprogram. I just want parents to understand and share some compassion with their children rather than treat him as an outcast…he already feels that way on his own.

    Miss Knight, the children in your classroom are a very lucky to have such a patient and understanding teacher.

  86. Bklynjos says:

    Have been the mom on both sides of the story – first with a biological daughter and then, 6 years later, with an adopted daughter. Doesn’t matter which was which. Parenting is hard stuff all around. But as you are saying, grace and compassion and seeking to understand and see beauty can take us a long way. Thanks for posting this.

  87. Sarah says:

    In my early years of grade school I was That Child, I would cry unexpectedly, I would scream and I wpuld be a distraction. I’m a type one diabetic and I foamy know how to express that my levels were low in words so that’s what I would do. I’m also That Child that was never invited to birthday parties because parents didn’t want to have to watch me, or they thought I would be too much to handle. When I finally was able to voice how my levels were I was still not invited to parties because of the label of being that child. I would go home ctying because I couldn’t understand why everyone else was being invited and I wasn’t or why I heard kids in my classes talking about me or making fun of me. I’m 21 now and it still hurts to think back and realize that I was ostracized by my peers and their parents for something I couldn’t control.

  88. cecilia says:

    at times the not that kid, kid, learns from being with that kid. It is the real world. We are all very different. People learn differently. Some children are neurologically intact and others are not. Some kids live in safe homes while others were there when dad murdered mom, punched grandma. Some kids have a roof over their heads, but way too many do not. Some kids master the language while other kids struggle to communicate.
    The not that kid will have a better understanding and will develop compassion, even though they come home with crazy stories.

  89. nycdoeparent says:

    Would love to always see this when it comes to privacy rights and FERPA! Thanks

  90. […] De una maestra a los padres: sobre ESE niño que pega, interrumpe e influencia a tu niño […]

  91. NB says:

    After my son was placed in a classroom with the same disruptive child for the first three years of elementary school, I requested that his remaining three years be in classrooms without him. The school honored my request, which I thought was a fair one. Beginning in first grade, the school also extended invitations for my child to be part of a group situation (during school hours) that obviously was initiated with the intent of socializing troubled children. I declined each year. I didn’t feel that my obligation to other children extended to exposing my child to negative physical and emotional encounters while taking him away from his regular classroom, where he was thriving.

    • Linda says:

      I respect your opinion, but wanted to reply with a similar situation where I made a different decision than you. When my son was asked to be in a “special” group to play board games, etc. with a group of other boys who would benefit from my son’s decent social skills, he felt honored and I allowed him to participate. It was such a positive experience for both my son and the other boys. My son learned so much about compassion and finding strengths in others. He learned to see the good in all people. He learned that each of us has strengths and things we strive to do better in. Out of the 5 boys in the group, 2 of them began hanging out with my son and his group of friends. Having positive peers who accept you, include you and care about you was life changing for these two boys.

      • NB says:

        I guess it depends on each child, and parents know whether their child will be able to handle that kind of a classroom situation. I knew mine could not.

  92. Lee-Ann says:

    THANK-YOU. Thank-you for writing “About THAT Kid”. I have one of those children and I sobbed uncontrollably when I read your blog. You obviously have a great understanding about those kids and their many, many circumstances. I have shared the link to your blog with several of my friends. You have written a very powerful blog. It has helped me and I hope it will help some of my friends that also have “that kid”.

  93. Ange says:

    Powerful. Well said.

  94. Melissa says:

    I thank you deeply for this post (even the tears it brought me). I teach special education and often feel like my whole class is that kid. Your post beautifully puts the delicacy and balance it takes to support the kids that need the most support.

  95. heather says:

    i have that child as well as many people mine is in the 9th grade now and he is home bound due to being that child but being home bound this past year has taught him to read

  96. I have That Child. She’s sweet, charming, intelligent, precious. Just as precious as your little snowflake. All of the children in her class love her and are protective of her. They all know something is Different about her, and that sometimes she has some troubles with her learning and social development. They don’t know that she’s autistic. They don’t know she’s globally delayed. But they’ve grown up with her and they are charmed by her. They are patient with her, and even when they’re frustrated with her, they take the time to help her learn social lessons and try to help tutor her in group lessons (as they are all supposed to do in our system).

    Yes, my daughter has grown incredibly since preschool when her services started, and she is enjoying services from her school as a new sixth grader with her peers. But All The Other Children have grown too, and they’ve probably learned something even more valuable that their parents aren’t always willing to learn: compassion and patience for those they have intuited unconsciously need a little more help than others.

    She’s not a bully or a danger to others. She’s not usually a danger to herself. She’s an eloper, but not as often as when she was little. Any aggression or frustration is usually expressed at home… she’s learned, with great modeling from her peers, to keep her game face on during school hours. Sometimes the game face slips… but her classmates, her friends, forgive her. They don’t hold grudges. They see her for 99.99999% of the time that she’s behaving like a perfect little angel, and don’t hold against her a verbal outburst or a possible hurtful comment. She accepts the social tutoring of her classmates because she WANTS friends… even if it sometimes hurts HER feelings when they do.

    I know she… we… are incredibly lucky. The great majority of children with disabilities tend to be abuse VICTIMS both at home and at school and in life. TWO THIRDS of children that are disabled. TWO THIRDS of That Child children are bullied and abused and victimized and taken advantage of and sexually assaulted. They are far more likely than the non-disabled children to be targeted. We don’t question “why not with her?” We accept it with grace.

    And because of our grace, and my advocacy both personally and professionally, my daughters are all advocates. They are all compassionate and patient. My other two daughters, non-autistic, have been victims of bullies and as a parent advocate I have made certain that it stopped all the while understanding there were underlying reasons. Not excuses, but reasons. My daughters have learned to stand up for themselves by watching me advocate for their sister and for them; they’ve seen me advocate in my job. And now they advocate for their sister and even their disabled classmates. They advocate for those they see being bullied. They’ve learned to use their voices and found strength. They’ve learned not only coping skills, but ways to successfully figure out who’s a Bully and who might be That Child. Having experiences with both, they know how to handle themselves.

    I am most definitely That Mom. I take pride in that. But I have friends and teachers who are understanding and don’t see me as That Mom. They see me as a team player and loving, involved mom. I know I’m lucky that we’ve been mostly lucky to live in a non-abusive district, school-wise. I know I’m lucky that most of the other parents I’ve come across in our school system are supportive and friendly and understanding and don’t view my daughter as a leech on society or a burden to their children in the classroom. Our home isn’t all roses and rainbows… we have our challenges.

    But That Child isn’t the holy terror that so many of you are trying to make him/her out to be. It’s so easy to believe it when your child has been mistreated, or you hear horror stories. It must be that the parents are in dream land, right? Or the parents just aren’t trying hard enough. The children must know better. Every single That Child is a detriment, right? They should all be removed from society but most importantly, your child’s presence. Maybe not all interaction with a special needs child is a gift to your child, but That Child is still a gift to someone who loves her. That Child has a name and a face and a story.

    • Emma says:

      That Child isn’t the holy terror? That Child made my kid pull down her pants so he could violate her, at the threat of telling the teacher she was being mean to him. On multiple occasions.

      That’s something you want my kid to sweep under the rug?

      Thankfully, the teacher and administration listened and helped. Yes, we had to involve law enforcement and lawyers just to protect all rights and to help That Kid with his behaviors. Perhaps we failed by not teaching my daughter well enough that she can always stand up for herself, even against That Kid.

      I am eternally grateful for the teacher who worked with us. I am grateful for the compassion and help of That Kid’s parents.

      But please dont dismiss the abuse That Kid may commit.

  97. […] Published: Miss Night Mutters and Huffington […]

  98. […] Murray has touched the hearts of millions this week with her letter about THAT child. It’s a wonderful essay that pierces the veil of secrecy teachers are sworn to. It’s a […]

  99. […] This post was originally featured on Miss Night’s Marbles. […]

  100. […] Murray es la dierctora de una escuela infantil en Canadá. Esta carta publicada por ella en el blog Miss Night’s Marbles es una muestra de la ardua labor que ejercen los buenos […]

  101. […] Dear Parent: I know. You're worried. Every day, your child comes home with a story about THAT kid. The one who is always hitting shoving pinching scratching maybe even biting other children. The on…  […]

  102. Ken says:

    Man! I’m an “old Fart” and it pains me to see more and more people doing their job without caring about it. Too many people are working for their VACATION rather than working for their VOCATION. So it is super nice to her from someone who really cares. Well done, keep it up. It does make a difference to your pupils, to you and to others besides.

    thank you

  103. […] Dear Parent, About that kid has gone viral for thousands of views and almost 900 comments.  It is a powerful read that is very thought provoking.  It is followed up by I am “That” parent.  Both of these readings are a rare and precious insight! […]

  104. Proud Mom says:

    “That Child” was my son. This moved me to tears. I want to reach out and thank you. Thank you for understanding that “that child” has many many wonderful attributes. My son, struggled with ADD. He was mis understood, he was singled out by many students and some teachers as well, all the way through elementary school and junior high. He was shunned by many because he has ADD. He had a special chair in kindergarden. He had some wonderful teachers who reached out to him, and unfortunately some not so wonderful. He too watered the plants, sharpened pencils, and had special projects. He went to school early each morning to turn all the computers on in the library. He was teased by kids, and yes by some of their parents as well. My son: who would give another child his coat if they were cold, who would gave away his lunch because someone was more hungry, who couldn’t sit still and always seemed to be in trouble, my son with above average IQ, but couldn’t focus. My son, who struggle in school and worked extremely hard to get his Gold Seal in Heavy Duty Mechanics by the time his was 24. My son, who is still the kindest man I know. MY SON, I am so proud of him.

  105. TB says:

    Very very well said. Thank you for your comments.

  106. Hope says:

    I think some of the commentors are missing the point of this post. It’s not to make excuses for THAT kid and it’s not to tell parents that it’s ok their child is being tortured by THAT kid. The point is to say there is so much more going on behind the scenes that you don’t know and legally, can’t know. Yes, there are acceptions. Sometimes THAT kid is so much of a danger to himself or others that another placement would be better. No child should be tortured or stabbed as one commentor mentioned. I don’t think that’s who we’re talking about here (I could be wrong though). I think the point of this was simply to say that even though it seems THAT kid is senselessly disrupting the class or hitting your child every day while everyone turns a blind eye, that is not always the case. If we take all of THOSE children and separate them from your perfectly adjusted wonderful children, what kind of future do you think our society has? A society full of adults, some of whom were never exposed to adversity and others who were never given a chance to succeed.

    The reality is that we need more resources and they aren’t there. THAT child may benifit from a 1 on 1, but who will pay for it? THAT child may do better in a smaller classroom, who will pay for extra teachers? THAT child may need intensive psychotherapy and that’s not cheap. What everyone is missing is that there’s a much larger problem at hand and our educators are doing everything they possibly and legally can to make sure THAT child has just as much of a chance as your child.

    I could go on and on, but different people from different walks of life will always have different opinions, and that’s perfectly fine. What fun would it be if everyone always agreed?

  107. Kerstin says:

    Dear Amy,
    Thank you so much! I started crying in the middle of your post because I do have THAT kid in my classroom too. (For sure I have, everyone does…) And parents are complaining about THAT child. And all I do is trying to protect him, It’s not all the other kids who are mean – it’s their parents. You wrote a perfect description of their behaviors.
    Thanks again. I feel much better now 🙂

    Greetings from Austria,

  108. taby says:

    Beautifuly written thank you. Something so many of us don’t seem to realize is that at anypount in time our child could be THAT child. Kids are growing and changing constantly. At these young ages they are also learning what emotion is and just how to express those feelings. That coupled with any life style changes make it that much harder.

    Thank you for a beautiful and gentle post of THAT child. I pray that readers see this as an opportunity to love deeper and see clearer when it comes to all children.

    • Danny Basler says:

      I pray for everyone reading this. You are heroes – every one of you, and you give me and countless like me inspiration. Thank you

  109. SMB says:

    We’re a homeschooling family, but if we ever decide to send our kids to a more traditional school setting in the future, I would hope and pray that their teachers would be like you.
    This was wonderful. Thank you.

  110. […] you stumbled upon Amy Murray’s open letter to parents about THAT kid that went viral this week? In her insightful post, the Canadian educator cracks open the […]

  111. Amelie says:

    I can only say THANK YOU! I am THAT KID’s Mum. He has not been adopted, nor a victim of violence or divorce. He has Asperger’s, but that doesn’t explain everything, I guess. Anyway, we are so lucky to have a teacher just as understanding as the one who wrote this letter. I often thing other parents should just be happy and thankfull not to have the problems parents with “those kids” have and stol complaining. I also know how it is to have a “normal kid” with my daughter. There is just no comparison. With the one kid, everything is difficult, stressfull and challenging, with the other one everything is just smoothe, easygoing, joyfull, and rewarding… still I love them both just for who they are… (Amelie, from Germany)

    • Selena says:

      I also have THAT child, one who has Asperger’s and bi-polar disorder. I am the parent who cries through every meeting. That has spent a life’s savings on therapy, medications, tried almost everything you can think of to try and help my child. My child didn’t choose this. He just wants to be normal and loved. My child is picked on in the school yard by the “normal” children because he is different. My child just want’s to be accepted. Thank you for this I cried so hard as I read it.

  112. What an amazing piece that perfectly captures the heart of all of us out there! I just facilitated a seminar today for my teacher education students about supporting challenging behavior in the classroom. At the heart of our conversation was compassion, and holding the belief that every child deserves to be loved and supported…especially THAT child! I only wish I had read this before I assigned their readings and homework for today’s seminar! Nonetheless, I’m excited to share this with them, and all of my other colleagues! Thanks for your beautiful words!!

    I think it’s relevant that you created this post so close to November 20, which is Universal Children’s Day, and the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child…I plan to share this post as broadly as I can to help celebrate the declaration of what all children deserve! Here is another celebration of children’s rights, including children’s own opinions on their rights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOxodRT3Uf0

  113. Jon Floate says:

    I am the parent of THAT kid, two of them. One (my little girl (#3)) is in speech therapy and get’s teased until she cries and the other (my middle boy (#2)) was diagnosed with the polar opposite of diabetes and has been labeled “adhd kid” when it isn’t. Not violent and loveable but still get’s his ass kicked for sticking up for his sister and both of them collectively get their asses kicked everyday because he is impulsive and she cannot express herself correctly, and frankly there are too many of THOSE kids. I home school them now because I cannot trust the teacher to protect them at school and the public school district won’t do anything. They tell me, as the parent of THEM, that I need to get them help, but when there is no help to give because I cannot get into the proper health plan because I have a guy in my group plan who required a 24 hour nurse so I get the costs passed onto me. I suffer for it because I cannot provide and protect them like I should be able to. I AM THAT DAD. I, in turn, quit my well paying job and work from home because I need them to be able to be safe, they need hands on education and therapy. I stay home to provide the best possible scenario for MY kids. Honestly I do this because I believe in the other side of what I read, because I MARRIED THAT TEACHER, and she goes in at 600 AM for THOSE very same kids who are THAT child, she cared for them before school, teaches them all day, makes sure THEY have everything they need, helps them when they are acting like THAT, then stays with them after school until their parents, grandparents, foster parents, friends parents come and pick them up from school…. at 630 PM. The very same kids my kids are afraid of and got hurt by because of their short comings have their very own short comings (and no she can’t even tell me everything, but i hear the tears when she showers and see the worry). My wife is the strongest woman I know and she is THAT teacher. Me thinking my career is better? HELL NO, I get to hang with my kids all day and fish when I want to with them, who wouldn’t love that, even when they are acting like THAT kid?

  114. Ocean says:

    All I can say is I wish my kid had you as a teacher. Someone who puts in the time to know what is going on with each kid.

    I don’t think my son’s teachers even know our names. Until yesterday they apparently somehow assumed that I was my son’s step mom and my sister in law (who picks him up more often than I do) was his biological mom. We figured this out because they sent home a sticky note asking us to get him to read something to “mom, dad and step mom”. I have no idea where they got this idea, but there is no step mom on the list that says who’s allowed to pick him up from school. If it had been a case where mom and dad had been divorced, handing him to the step mom without asking questions could have caused all sorts of problems.

    On top of all that, I know my son has trouble communicating and is easily frustrated because of it and will lash out because actions are easier than words. I have heard that my son has hit other kids from my son, from other kids and from those kids’ parents, but all I’ve ever gotten from the teacher is a vague note that said something about using words instead of hands. For all I know, he threw something. Luckily he isn’t a liar. He’ll totally tell me he was in the “red zone” today, and exactly why and how it happened, and if he feels there was a misunderstanding but the teacher just didn’t understand what he was saying. This happens a lot.

    Also, I see a lot of people commenting here about how “That Kid” isn’t their problem and their kid shouldn’t have to put up with them. Forgetting for a moment that legally all kids need to have an education, home schooling isn’t an option for most people and just getting into any special education programs could take a decade, if you’re lucky… What happened to teaching kids to get along with different people from different walks of life? Sure, we can shelter them in school, we can request that they be in a different class or a different school or home school… but what happens when they leave the school environment? There aren’t just problem kids. There are problem adults. And running away from them won’t always be as easy as transferring schools.

    • MamaBear says:

      I have no problem teaching my child, who isn’t THAT kid, that he needs to get along with all people from all walks of life. We’re a military family and we move a lot, he’s had to learn to adapt and make friends easily. What I will NOT teach him is that he has to be the victim of violence from THAT kid just because THAT kid has a mental or emotional issue. That opens all kinds of really scary scenarios, (would he have to put up with being physically abused or molested by an adult with a mental or social disorder?) My son has had to deal with THAT kid being physically abusive for 2 years and I have fought to have THAT kid removed from the situation. I finally succeeded, although it was a short suspension, but it taught my child to stand up for what’s right. We cannot make excuses for behavior that is harmful to other people, no matter what. We can have patience and compassion, we can try to avoid the triggers and situations that might upset a child with social difficulties, but we will not tolerate abuse. Period.

      • Ocean says:

        I never said he had to be a victim. What I said is running away isn’t the answer.

        I see a lot of people talking about changing classes or schools because of “that kid”. Kids need to learn how to react in the real world when they encounter a physically or verbally abusive situation. Eventually there won’t be a parent, a teacher or a principal to turn to. In a lot of workplaces it’s hard to even get support from your supervisor in these sorts of situations (and sometimes your supervisor is the cause of these situations).

        It sounds like you’re teaching your child to stand up to and try fix the problem rather than running away, which is exactly what I was saying parents should do.

        • Annie says:

          Removing yourself from an unsafe situation is not ‘running’ from it. It’s choosing not to deal with a situation that frankly, one should not have to deal with to begin with. Standing up for yourself is great, but there’s a difference between standing up to someone who’s behavior changes as a result, and whose doesn’t. We’re talking about the latter group. In the US alone 5 MILLION children have been diagnosed with mental illness that interferes with daily life, every year 20% of children are diagnosed. There is a percentage of children out of those 5 mln from whom, let’s say, you’d rather run from. How many of them ‘make it’ anywhere where normal adults would ever interact with them in the ‘real world’ (and no, I don’t believe that your supervisor is trying hit you, push you, bite you and throw an object at you)? For a pre-K, elementary or middle school child this is, however, a real possibility.

      • jen75 says:

        I couldn’t agree more! Violence should NEVER be accepted at school…no matter the reason for the behavior.

  115. Thank you, shared with all the teachers, administrators, and board members–THAT kid, THIS kid, ALL kids are in a better place because of teachers like you, Miss Night.

  116. nora says:

    The world would be a better place if there were More teachers like this. 🙂

  117. Jenna says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. I am THAT kids mom. My son is in grade one and apparently has been having problems at school. And at home. He used to be such a well behaved kid. He listened, never talked back, was never violent. Even felt uneasy just wrestling around with other kids his age. And then he went to preschool and the swearing he was learning from the older teens that were taking a child care class as part of his preschool experience was enough for me to pull him out 4 months in. Then the time between then and kindergarten we got him prepared and got the curse words under control and his attitude back in order. But after the first two months of kindergarten Howe noticed a big change in his attitude. He wasn’t trying anymore to do anything. He whined about everything. He got lazy too. We tried everything we could to figure it out but nothing worked. And then grade one came and now he’s talking back to teachers, still not wanting to do anything and try at things, he doesn’t listen, he’s continously getting hurt and has even hurt other kids (although I doubt intentional). Him and a kid were playing swords with their pencils and he stabbed the kid in the hand. I doubt he actually wanted to hurt the kids and he felt really bad about it. His teacher and I and vice principal are working together to try to figure everything out. We got him doing to spark program in the morning. We are starting a reward system with him. But I can only do so much and his teacher can only do so much. It takes a village to raise just 1 child. Imagine trying to do it in a classroom of 10, 15, 20 students and just one adult. I’ve seen other kids that also have problems at school and some of the problems I see them have I start to think things and then i remember that they are only 6 and there are so many circumstances to each child’s life. You never know what’s going on and even if they may seem like a little monster in a child’s body at times they still need love and understanding and compassion and to be helped not judged or hated or looked down upon.

    • Isa says:

      Hi Jenna,

      I feel your pain as my son has struggled through the years, but there is hope. I’m wondering if anyone has mentioned he could have a delay in the development of Executive Function (EF) skills. If you haven’t already read the book, Lost At School by Ross W. Greene, I highly recommend it. He addresses these skills in his book with regards to learning and how they affect behavior. Also, check out other experts on the topic of EF: Chris Dendy, PhD; Dr. Thomas E. Brown; Mark Bertin, MD.

      Good luck and God Bless!

  118. […] Murray’s open letter to parents about THAT kid in the classroom has gone viral—originally a blog post, her commentary is now making the rounds nationally, including the OpEd page at the Washington […]

  119. Carol says:

    I remember volunteering in my daughter’s first grade class many years ago. I was amazed that anyone expected my daughter and her classmates to learn in a classroom where one child screamed constantly (extremely unnerving) and another – the one I was assigned to watch – climbed over desks, chairs and other children for the entire time I was there. I considered moving my child to a different class or a different school, if necessary. Then, in the midst of my angst, I realized that my child could read and do simple arithmetic and had friends. I finally found the insight to ask my daughter what she thought of her classroom. She loved it. No, the screamer didn’t bother her; she barely heard him any more. The climber was distracting at times, but nothing she couldn’t handle. The overwhelming sensory stimulation in that classroom would have driven me mad, but my daughter not only learned to read and write in that classroom, she learned tolerance and empathy. She learned that she could succeed anywhere.

  120. galaxykat says:

    In this country we have a free and public education for all, it’s the law. Schools and teachers do not get to choose to keep or discard “that kid.” Schools/teachers/principals also can’t just decide to take a child out of the regular classroom and exclude them from education with their peers. This is also law. To place a child in a self-contained program it can take years of intervention, meticulous documentation, and usually qualification under Special Education to satisfy the legal requirements that students be placed in “the least restrictive environment.

    This means that the long-term data shows clearly that the child cannot be successful in the general classroom (which is least restrictive) and needs a more restrictive environment to succeed. For instance, the part above where she mentioned that the child’s aggressive incidents have fallen from five per day to five per month – that improvement is data showing that intervention in the general classroom is actually working. The conclusion from that data would be that the child should remain in the general classroom with his/her peers. Furthermore, one of the main points of the article is that the teachers are working hard to support all students in their class, and yet, may not always be able to share the specifics due to confidentiality rules.

    This is the nature of public education by law in our country – it is open to all. All types of kids who have been through all types of trauma (or none at all). All types of behavior, good and bad. If you aren’t comfortable with sending your child to a place that serves everyone in the neighborhood, regardless of the children’s various issues, private or home schooling is always an option.

    In my opinion, having “that kid” in your child’s class is a great way to teach your child about differences, how to assertively stand up for themselves, and how to cope with the fact that sometimes in life you have to spend a lot of time with people you really, really, dislike.

    • L says:

      That is incredibly superficial. What you are implying is that other students should have to be in situations where they are fearful, and sometimes physically hurt, repeatedly, weekly – because of “education for all”? I have been a classroom teacher, and have seen a young boy bashing a young girl over the head repeatedly – this is after he had absconded, and I had ducked out into the courtyard to look for him, he had come back and began bashing her over the head with his fists while she sat on a chair and cried.

      I quit the education system because it can’t provide for these children. I don’t think leaving them in mainstream classes, where they are unable to learn, AND make other children likewise unable to learn, as well as hurting others, is the answer.

      You’ve missed the bit where, if the least restrictive environment doesn’t work, then the environment must be changed. Just like mental illness – just because violent psychotic episodes are down to 5 per week instead of 5 per day, doesn’t mean that person isn’t in in-patient.

  121. Bryan says:

    I pray that you never find yourselves the parents of THAT kid. I hope you never have to get the phone calls from the school saying your child was breaking the rules, acting out, being rough, talking back or running away from the teachers/staff.

    I truly wish that noone has to watch as their precious childs moods swing uncontrollably from sweet to aggressive, from telling you they love you with a hug and a few moments later screaming they hate you, you ruined their lives, or they wish you weren’t their parents.

    I would not wish upon anyone having to restrain your little angel from hitting or hurting themselves because they get so frustrated trying to acvomplish tasks that other children find easy and they have no other way to release their anxiety.

    I hope you’re never in the position that you sit up with your screaming baby all night long because they are in unbearable pain, exquiste fear of the dark or truly convinced you will never come back if you leave their side.

    If you are in that position, I hope you quickly find good, qualified physicians, therapists, specialists, and children’s advocates. That you do mot run into those eho simply want your or your insurances’ money, kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies, or want to make a name for themselves off your child’s condition.

    I pray you are able to find understanding teachers, principals, and councilors in your school system that are willing to work with you on finding a solution that is best for everyone. I hope yoy never have to go through the hundreds of hours of psychological, medical, behavior testing costing thousands of dollars and weeks of sleeplessness to be given a diagnosis of we’re not sure.

    I pray you are spared the conversation you must have with your child as to why they are different, why the other kids tease them or are afraid of them. The conversations with family and so-called friends whom tell you your ruining your child’s life, it’s all in your head.

    I pray you never have to learn that most of these conditions are hereditary and your child most likely inherited these life-altering illnesses from you because of them getting the short end of the genetic lottery.

    Heaven forbid you learn that more than one of your children has special needs and they will be battling them their whole lives.

    No, I do not wish these things on anyone, because I know what it is like to be the parent of THAT kid, and all I want is to love them and help them all.

  122. Billy says:

    Educators never cease to amaze me. What a wonderful reminder about empathy! Let’s not forget the parents who don’t know the cause yet . . . the ones who are noticing certain behavior in their children, trying desperately to figure out WHY the behavior is occurring and HOW to help their child. My sense is that those parents receive the most support, encouragement and collaboration from the teachers and other education personnel in their lives. . . more so than from physicians, family or even other parents. A lot of time and effort is being spent by educators teaching our children empathy and compassion. Those lessons are only as good as the empathy and compassion that we, as parents, demonstrate.

  123. Marjorie says:

    Very well said!!! As a teacher aide I want to say thank you for writing this and I will be sharing this story.

  124. carol says:

    Amazingly stated!! I love this!!

  125. Indira says:

    MD Mom…I agree. This is a scary letter. It reveals the sad truth about the Mental Health of Teachers everywhere. This teacher is begging for help because she states that she “worries all the time…in the car…in the shower..”. How can she teach when she is stressed out all the time?

    Also, why should healthy stress-free children be placed in a stressful environment where they have to tolerate mentally challenged/violent or other toxically stressed children. This environment has the recipe and ingredients to create bullies, suicide victims, high school drop outs, later incarceration and the list goes on…

    What an eye opener!

    • Karen Rakowitz says:

      Indira, isolating your healthy stress-free child from children who are different is creating a different problem. Your child will never know tolerance or kindness or empathy first hand. Your child will grow in a sheltered environment never understanding that not everyone grew up as they did. We do our best learning as children whether it be intellectual learning or emotional learning. You, as a parent, should encourage your child to not just ‘tolerate’ THOSE children but to go out of his/her way to befriend and help the child. This environment where all children have tolerance and empathy is what we want our schools to be and this will PREVENT our children from becoming bullies, suicide victims, high school drop outs, etc.

  126. M Pennington says:

    Wonderful letter. I can only wish thus far in our public educational experience (1st grade in the state of California) we had a Miss. Marbles. In the least, a teacher who does care for ALL the children in her class- even the not-so-easy ones, rather than teachers who continually claim “I have 24 students…!” and are only kind to the easier ones, the ones that are quiet and require the least amount of help and are of least resistance to their [teachers] day.
    The only item I wish were added to this wonderful letter, in the listing of what THAT child goes through, would be the mention of a special disability or a child who has autism just ever- so- slightly that it is not obvious, other than THAT behavior. It would be nice if other faculty and parents understood the physical discomfort, the sensory distress and the emotional pain and anxiety that THAT child contends with every moment of all those hours he is in his traditional classroom without the kindness of the adults he is supposed to “respect” and without the true friendship of his peers. No invitations to the birthday parties. No praises from his mentor. Then I suppose you could go into the pain and torment his parents feel daily as they are hearts are so full of love for their amazing child that it is unbearable to watch all this unkind treatment unfold. How, as his parents, it is so difficult to understand why the other parents stare, sneer and gossip (if not say out loud) that it is all due to poor parenting. How a school psychologist actually had the audacity to say “I wonder, is it really that –insert child’s name—can’t get himself dressed, or is it that he just won’t…” How his parents, as you said, cry at every meeting with his teacher and faculty… but have never been blessed enough to have one hold their hand.
    A wonderfully kind letter indeed Miss Marbles. I hope THOSE Parents and THOSE educators read it and that it effects them deeply. That there must be kindness and understanding and support for proper resources to help an educator with THAT child (usually just needs a bit of one –on-one attention at particular time points throughout the day.) That ALL 25 children in their class should be valued and cared for. Thank you Miss Marbles for being sympathetic and standing up for THAT child and THOSE parents.

  127. EvaV says:

    I feel compassion for THAT child and, especially, for wonderfully empathic and compassionate Teacher. Children are smaller, younger, people who have no power and have not yet to identify and verbally express their feelings. Their coping skills might be maladaptive and simply just not yet mature. (I have observed the same to be true of many adults!) That is why we have to be tuned into our children – to know when they are hungry, scared, frustrated, etc. Teacher deserves the Teacher of the Decade award for being so tuned in to the children in her class that she is able to respond to all their needs and understand their behavior, not just those of YOUR child. In the end, the advantage of Teacher’s approach is that everybody wins. YOUR child and THAT child.

  128. Perly says:

    Soo beautifully written I am in tears! So much compassion, love and understanding! Thank u, thank U thank u!

  129. Leah says:

    Thank you for this post! My sweet boy was and still is “one of thoses kids.” He has some “issues”, as we call them, that make learing difficult. So because of his “issues”, he has aa really rough time in school and especially in a public school setting. For many years he had “nice” teacher but they while they were well meaning, they didn’t or wasn’t able to help my son. This last year was especially hard for him. He was give a “bad” teacher who gave up on her entire class the first month of school. Finially, our prayers were answered and Ms. Greene became his teacher. This teacher that is written avout in your post. A teacher who emailed me every night with a note about his day. A teacher who fought day and night not just for my sweet boy but for his entire class. Funny, she is the one who suggested home schooling. He still has “issues” but doesn’t cry evey day about doing school, all because of a teacher’s love and care.

  130. Sophia says:

    This made me cry, and it also makes me so much less worried about my own kid… I don’t know who he’s going to turn into. I don’t know if his kind and gentle nature will turn him into a victim of bullying, or whether his desire sometimes to use force to get what he wants will turn him into a bully. But I have faith now that it’s so much more likely that we, his parents won’t be the only ones to keep an eye on him and make sure he’s okay.

  131. Hattie says:

    Thanks for reminding us why we love every kid that comes through our doors! Beautiful!

  132. Tiffany Golden says:

    Please tell me how this is supposed to make the parents whose child has been choked, slapped, tripped, pushed, cut, and mentally tortured by THAT KID feel better. I get why THAT KID has it rough, I truly do, and as a law enforcement professional, I really do. BUT THAT KID has caused serious physical and mental damage to my child who is a target simply because she is (and this is a direct quote from THAT KID) “a pretty white girl and you don’t deserve to be pretty.” I don’t care anymore that THAT KID has trouble reading, has a speech impediment, was adopted from crack heads, and has a disengaged adopted mother (who is a teacher mind you). I am done providing excuses for THAT KID who has hurt my child physically and mentally and broken every nice thing she has taken to school. She has ruined her clothing, she has broken her show and tell toys, she has tried to chop off her long, blonde hair, and she has tried to stab her (YES STAB) in her blue eyes because “I don’t like blue.”

    THAT KID has also told my daughter that birth parents are people who don’t want you and that we, her birth parents, would be throwing her away soon because she is trash. THAT KID’s father, a coach at the school, has told my daughter that she just needs to suck it up when she presented the cut on her arm that THAT KID (his daughter) did to her with a screw from the bleachers. THAT KID has bluntly and in front of the Principal and teacher told my daughter “I could kill you.” So perhaps now you understand why those of us who have children being attacked by THAT KID don’t care anymore about THAT KID. THAT KID is 6 years old, so what will she be like in middle school when girls are the worst? Does my daughter have to live in fear of THAT kid her whole academic life? THAT KID is likely a socipoath, and yes, I say that with authority on the subject. THAT KID will be in prison someday. THAT KID gets no more passes from me. I will NOT allow THAT KID to ruin my kid. You should not either.

    • Ak says:

      I completely agree with this concerned parent. That child may have had it rough but my child or any other normal child should not have to deal with any type of emotional, physical abuse from That child.

    • if the behaviors exhibited by the child in question were witnessed by others and/or you, my question would be as a person in law enforcement, why didn’t you go through the proper channels for charges and/or inquiries (then you WOULD be privy to otherwise private information) with regards to the offender? In fact, i would have collected evidence after the first couple of instances. i am fairly confident that schools remove actual violent individuals, as they present heavy insurance liabilities.

      also, if your CV supports your authority on psychiatric issues – then you know that mental illness isn’t something one chooses. kids with highly sensitive needs should be in schools that can cater to their respective illnesses, but given that we spend over 30k on prisoners annually and only 8-11k on each student annually – chances are funds will never be available for special needs children.

      no cure for sociopaths though (lobotomy and death). fortunately if they choose their good path, they would only end up heartless ceo’s of fortune 500 companies….several studies have shown that psychopaths and sociopaths make fantastic corporate heads and politicians

      as a parent of that child – i don’t require the other parents understand, only the teacher. all parents are mama bears when it comes to their kids (inherent biology, am i right). i just don’t want my kid labeled the problem kid early on because that stigma is difficult to erase and teachers talk. and teacher opinion carries great weight when tipping the scales in favor of/or against your kid – and ultimately make or break a kid’s academic career

  133. Armineh Megrabyan says:

    My daughter was THAT child when she came to have severe gastrointestinal problems. She stopped being THAT child as soon as her health problems stopped. Her teacher helped us realize there was a problem. Working together with her school we were able to giver her the care she needed to get better, physically and emotionally. She is a happy angel again. This article brought tears to my eyes.

  134. Sarah T. says:

    This is the worst pain in the world! My son is also THAT child, and when he started to realize not only that he is different, but that other kids know he is different, he began to call himself names and say that no one wants to be his friend anymore. It brings me to tears seeing him feel that way. It’s a hurt only a mother could feel.

    • Lisa says:

      Hang in there! My child was THAT child, and through consistent discipline, lots of love, and occasional counseling, we all managed our way through his behavior. Now he is a high school freshman, active in his church youth group, and a 3.5 GPA student. Most of all, he knows he is loved to the moon and back, and that his parents will ALWAYS be his advocate, but also help him continue to make good choices. The more involved you are, the better the outcome. Love will get you through!! Believe!

    • MR says:

      My child was that child too and I am happy to say was. He is 11 years old now but is still living with the his history as he moves through school because one’s past sits on your shoulder for many years. He is a child with extreme life threatening food allergies, ADHD, sensory issues and is extremely bright beyond his age. I have great compassion for educators who are educators because they love to teach and be with children but unfortunately there are too many people in this profession that do not realize their behavior as an educator can and will effect kids for the rest of their lives. There is hope for kids such as mine however you must realize that not every educator has your child’s best interest at heart. Get external assistance for your child and do not feel you are obligated in any way to medicate your child. It’s not all behavior, many times THAT child just needs an advocate and the best advocate is the parent not the teacher or the principal who have unions to deal with when a teacher does not want to teach a challenging child.

  135. […] touching and very well-written post by Canadian educator, Amy Murray, made me tear […]

  136. carol says:

    Wow…I can only hope my grandson gets teachers through his school life JUST LIKE YOU!

  137. cindy smith says:

    What about those other kids “that kid” effected??? Those kids who got bit, punched and even inappropriately touched?? What about those kids and there families? What are teachers and admins doing about them to help those kids and their parents? “Those kids and their parents” didn’t asked for any of these conflicts that have been brought into their house because “that kids” didn’t know better. Don’t get me wrong, “that kid” didn’t asked to be brought into this world by wrong parents or awful life situations…I get that and my heart goes out to that kid. BUT my heart goes out to “those kids” and families who have been effected by “that kid’s” inappropriate behavior. Now the parents of those children who haven been effected are dealing with this issue and the parents have seen and watched their child change in front of their eyes. Their child no longer feels comfortable going to school because “that kid” have made such an impact in his or her life. Question still stands with me…to hear that the child who got bit, punched or inappropriately touched have to change their life to advoid “that kid” from seeing them everyday. Those children have to leave their friends in their current class feel like they have done something wrong by moving out of class because those kids don’t want to see “that kid” everyday because he or she makes him or her feel so uncomfortable that those kids have nightmares and having to go see a psychologist.

    What would you have to tell those kids and their parents who have done everything right but have been effected by “that kid’s behavior.”!

    What if those kids who have been effected, one of them was your child who have been effected by behavior of “that kid.”? And have changed. You can’t never get her/his innocence back.

    • Andrea says:

      My oldest child is THAT child … I have cried everyday after I send him off school reminding him “it’s ok to be mad and yell but it is never ok to hurt someone who is only trying to help (the teachers) or that have nothing to do with the problem (other students)”. I didn’t use drugs while pregnant and never drank. I did read books to him and tucked him into bed everynight. Then bi-polar happened to my sweet little 6-year-old boy and warped him into THAT child. I have sat in the meetings and cried just wanting my child to be like yours. I have walked into the school building my head hung in shame not wanting to look at the people around me but feeling the judgemental stares to retrieve my screaming, spitting, flailing child. I have done everything in my power to help doctors, and tutors, and helpers, and therapists, and family mediators. But the Bi-Polar wins most days. My beautiful middle child who is often the pin-point of my oldest’s distain now she comes home from school with stories about THAT child. I sit with her and listen to the horror stories of the names THAT child called her. That THAT child pulled her, pushed her down and pointed at her laughing. We sit and cry together a little while before we both take a deep breath and try to gain a little perspective. The problems with THAT child probably have nothing to do with her at all, THAT child isn’t out to ruin my child’s day. Just like her older brother she is just the outlet for his frustration. I use this time to teach my beautiful little girl that THAT child probably has a lot of things going on and that THAT child could use a little compassion and understanding. She goes to school and gets pulled from class to join her gifted and talented reading companions three times a week but when she’s in class during reading without judging she helps THAT child with words that are too hard to read. She counts on her fingers when doing math not because it helps her (she’s in TAG for math too) but because it helps THAT child. And everyday as she leaves to walk to daycare she says goodbye and have a great afternoon to THAT child. I know because the teacher tells me that she does since she can’t tell me about THAT child. The really sad part is my oldest my THAT child doesn’t have someone to do that for him. Because parents of the children in his class couldn’t or wouldn’t teach them about understanding and compassion.

      • Megan says:

        Your story really touched me. I hope your “that” child finds a friend with the same empathy and understanding as your beautiful daughter. You’re a great Mom and you’re doing a great job!

    • Andy says:

      I have been one of those kids – I was AG and made to sit with THAT kid every day in 4th grade, because the system claims that high-performing students in close proximity to low-performing students has some kind of magic osmosis effect on the low-performing students. I was hit, I was teased, I was subject to lewd jokes, having my chair pulled out from behind me, and worse. It was miserable, but my teacher thanked me every day. She would touch me on the arm as I left for the bus every afternoon and say, “Thank you, Andy. You are such a big help.” That was enough to keep me sitting next to Rodney and begging him to please be quiet and try to do his math. Every day.

      As a result I am a strong and vibrant person who can deal with some of the worst situations. I became a one-on-one instructor and work with students who need all kinds of special help. My goal is to keep THAT kid focused and engaged, to see channel his creativity in positive ways.

      I have also dealt with students who have been involved in worse harrassment by THAT kid at school. My student’s brother found out that his sister had been inappropriately touched and harrassed for twelve years by someone at school and he immediately dropped out of instruction with me to go be with her. My heart goes out to them every day, but because they are not my students, I am heartbroken that there is nothing I can do. Of course we think about THAT kid, this kid, those kids, and all the other kids out there.

      That is what it means to be a teacher. Or a parent.

    • Yehudijah says:

      Hi Cindy,

      It gets really complicated sometimes, doesn’t it? Sometimes, there aren’t easy answers. When I was in 4th grade in 1968 — I, a sweet, kind, skinny little girl, was assaulted by a fellow 4th grader and his younger brother. They lived across the street from us. It was terrifying. His parents denied that their boys did anything to me. I was afraid of him from then on although he never bothered me again (probably because my older brother threatened to kill him if he ever came near me again). Years later, in high school, that child ran away from home countless times, his younger sister would run over to our house sobbing that her father had hit her. She also ran away countless times and would come to school drunk or high and would behave in sexually inappropriate ways in the school hallways. We lived in an upper middle-class neighborhood. The parents were all professionals. And, nobody talked about a thing.

      You are right. You can’t get your child’s innocence back. It changes them forever. What all of us can do is ADVOCATE like crazy to ensure that those who need the extra supports GET THEM. In our schools, in our communities, in our families. Our school districts need to hear from us. Our local governments need to hear from us. Our Congress needs to hear from us. ALL of us. Because when they don’t, we clearly all pay the price. It’s a terrible thing. A tragic thing. These children are OUR children. We can also teach our kids how to advocate for themselves; to speak up, to not be bystanders.

      “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
      If I am only for myself, what am I?
      If not now, when?”

      Kindest Regards.

      • Bene says:

        The person replying that we need advocates for those children who some people call “That child” is right on. When your child comes home constantly saying a child terrifies them; listen. Do what you have to do by calling the school and reporting it to counselors, principals, the Superintendent and school board if necessary. That child needs help to understand the terror he/she is causing. It’s happening in all schools and the sad part is as they get older they become cyber bullies. Please do as suggested, teach your kids to advocate for themselves, speak up, and not be bystanders. I know sometimes they are afraid, which is understandable. It is not understandable for parents to think it will go away, or it happened to them and they grew up to be “good people”.
        A former teacher/counselor Bene

    • JBC says:

      Thank you for saying this. As someone who was one of those kids, the ones on the receiving end of That Kid’s behaviours, I can agree entirely. My school days were made an utter misery by aggression and abuse from other children, and by indifference to the effect it had on me by teachers and staff. But I had to keep going, every day, knowing I could get assaulted or otherwise tormented at any minute – because, well, school is the law. Two decades on I’m still struggling with depression and self-esteem. I can’t say it’s all down to my school experiences, but they certainly contributed heavily.

    • mom from Massachusetts says:

      Cindy- I couldn’t agree with your post more. The other part of the equation that child is more protected than those children and that is what has made this most difficult for my child this year. Being a typical regular child she has almost no rights and therefore it makes it increasing hard to know what is acceptable and what isn’t.

  138. darkestangel says:

    You’re making it so complicated. Why don’t you just go say hi to mum or dad and then ask how they’re doing? Most of us don’t bite. In my case I welcome it. If someone asks I will answer their questions, I’ll tell them why my son pushed their kid back, why he falls to the floor screaming etc and what helps prevent it happening. What I won’t tolerate is people treating him like a monster or a brat. Just yesterday my son helped a little girl in his class who fell over, he carried her to the teacher, he’s 6.

  139. Kate says:

    I’m 26 yeasts old, I’m married to a wonderful git with a beautiful daughter who had always been the one to befriend THOSE kids. Kindness -forgiveness even, seem to come naturally to her in a way that they never did for me.

    At her age and beyond, I was THAT KID; the one patents talked about, warned their kids to keep away from, who was always in trouble for doing god-only-knows-what this time. Diagnosed ADHD, bi-polar-Manic type, ODD, and a bunch of other not so fun BS acronyms.

    As someone who has been THAT child, thank you. Thank you for this article. Thank you for understanding, for being able to see the diamond under the dirt when no one else can be bothered, for the little moments of extra compassion and love that you don’t HAVE TO give but you do anyway. Thank you.

  140. Thank you! That was one of the most beautifully articulated and compassionate pieces I have read in a long time. I actually teared up. If only there were more teachers and people like you! The world really would be a better place. Thank you for sharing.

  141. SD Anne says:

    As a first grade teacher, this made me weep for each and every “THAT” kid I’ve had and known. For parents worried about “that” kid in their child’s class, teach your own children patience & kindness. For the author, thank you!

  142. […] letter from a teacher to a parent on a blog. It gave me new insights into compassion. Click HERE to read […]

  143. […] how hard I tried. I saw the article on The Huffington Post, but the original post can be found here. It was so beautifully written that I was wiping away tears at the end of […]

  144. Willow says:

    My child is THAT child. This made me cry. Today is his 15th birthday and he is beautiful. Thank you.

  145. […] Read the full article: Dear Parent: About THAT Kid… […]

  146. mom from Massachusetts says:

    See I have a lot of opinions about this topic. It’s not so much that I want to talk about THAT kid or that anyone really does either – it’s because we don’t know the whole story that makes the child THAT kid because if we were given the tools to help our children understand why THAT child is acting that way and what they can do to help – then THAT kid is no longer that kid but a friend that they like to be around. You see all children love to help classmates and if they were given the proper tools and guidance then the classroom as a whole would be a happier place. There are so many laws protecting children with special needs and most of them are appropriate however when it is a classified secret as to what those child’s special abilities are then of course everyone wants to talk about it. Special abilities should be celebrated and not hushed or kept quiet. All three of my children have made strong bonds with children in their school that have special abilities as well as their friends. I think most school systems go about this all wrong. Every child no matter should be celebrated for who they are – no matter how much help they may or may not need. Children want to help other children – children are born kind with empathy and compassion and understanding and we as a society protect them from far too much sometimes and in the end that is what causes gossip and idle chatter chatter. The unknown. I am sure I am going to get bashed by some for this – but before you bash me – really think about my post.

    • Indira says:

      Your comment in on spot. This veil of secrecy needs to end. On the other side of the teacher’s comment is the fact that there are some parents out there that are very aware of their child’s disruptive and problematic behavior but refuse to recognize the problem. Instead of having an open channel of communication with the administrators and teachers, they quietly and quickly transfer their child to another preschool and once the behavior surfaces again, they bounce to another school. This is terrible for the child because his or her needs are not met. Those parents of THAT child also need help but are probably afraid to ask for fear of being judged by the teachers and other parents. We all need to be involved because we are all learning and some of us would like to help…but the resources and tools are not available…

    • Lora says:

      True, it would seem like it could make it easier to give your children the tools to deal with “that child” if you all knew the details, but in the world we don’t know the details of people who we see and interact with even if we are working with them regularly. I think that we should use this as a time to stop and instead of give our child the tools to handle this particular “that kid” and the problems associated, we should use it as a time to teach them how to handle everybody. For instance, if a child is coming in and having aggression issues in class, not paying attention, disruptive, ect. do we need to know that the kid has ADD or if the kid has an abuse issue to deal with it? We can teach our kids how to stand up when they feel the need, they can be nice to the kid, they can help the kid, not tease the kid, and such without knowing the actual problem. My kids have both has to deal with kids in their classroom who are disruptive and usually the first time they have someone in their class I hear about it the most. So the first year they each has a disruptive kid I knew and received updates daily (without asking). We discussed the things they saw, what they could do or not do, even possible reasons why they do it (without knowing any details…. just different examples), and my kids adapted. Now they have disruptive kids in their class and I find out, not because they give me daily updates, but at their teacher conferences when the teacher tells me how good they are to “that kid” or when “that kid” reaches a level they actually need help with. They just accept that everybody is different and everybody has different challenges and needs. If we complicate things with helping them deal with “that kid” who has ADD, the “that kid” who has RAD, then “that kid” who is being abused, then “that kid” who is having speech difficulty, we are actually complicating the issue. We are guiding them into a world with a lot of unknowns, in which there will be unknowns and they need to know how to navigate it without needing all the details, just what is seen.

      Also consider, many children who have been victims of sexual abuse have issues like these and turn into “that kid”. Being a sexual abuse survivor (although adult one) I know that sometimes the ONLY power and control you have then is over who knows that information. When it is all ripped away initially you feel completely helpless, and in children sometimes they are actually removed from their homes. They have lost all power. They don’t have the power in that situation to not feel scared, they don’t have the power to stand up, they lost it all and need to rebuild it. But in those situations the one power they do (to a certain extent… not counting doctors and teachers) have is the power over who knows what happened. They don’t have to walk up to a new friend and tell them they have the control of that information. Taking that away by telling other parents, even well-meaning parents, would be devastating beyond belief (I know because when I was assaulted to me I was an adult and I lost that control because it was at work and everybody did know). There are many well meaning people out there who would only want to help and not hurt the child more and most people don’t even realize the importance of that little bit of power and control over who knows what happened, so I just wanted to throw it out there for consideration, especially so the well meaning adults can understand why people will not tell them if their child was sexually abused or why it would be horrid for a teacher to do it.

  147. […] beautiful blew up the internet this week. Canadian teacher Miss Night’s open blog post letter to parents who complain about “that …who’s hitting, spitting and disrupting their kids’ classroom is destined for greatness. […]

  148. our school systems could really use more teachers like you. Teachers who truely care about the kids, and are passionate about teaching the future generation.

  149. Christy says:

    Thànk you for this wonderful article! This is a big part of my world as someone who works every day with THOSE kids. There is so much more to them than the bad behaviors so many people focus on. They all have a special place in my heart and it takes a lot of patience and understanding to really see their true personalities. You are an amazing teacher to care so much!

  150. Lesley Ann says:

    When my older son was small, I worried about THAT child, and the harm he might do my gentle boy.
    When my younger son was small, he WAS THAT child. To my horror. And shame.
    All the things I had thought about the parents of THAT child came back to haunt me, now that I was the parent of THAT child.
    My younger son is autistic. His journey through pre-school and primary school was a rollercoaster, and even at 16 there are days I am sure his behaviour causes other kids to go home with stories about THAT child.
    But I know he is doing his best. We are ALL doing our best.
    And the best thing everyone else can do is to be kind to him. And to me, his mother.

  151. Rebecca says:

    Thank you! I have just finished up with my first session of student teaching, and it is incredible how much I have fallen in love with the students I work with in only three weeks. I am already concerned about their school performance and their personal well being. This will really stick with me as I prepare to be a teacher, so thank you again!

  152. kristy says:

    Omg this is amazing and touching

  153. oh my goodness. reading this bought tears to my eyes and made me think of how harshly I have judged other children because I simply didn’t think like this. Then I read the comments and I had such a ‘whoa’ moment. It occurred to me that once upon a time I was THAT child. I was starved, beaten, neglected and literally hated by my mother and step-father, and acted in accordance. NO ONE cared. The school never asked a question and simply saw me as trouble. In my early adult years I met one of my old teachers who told me the teachers in my high school used to DRAW STRAWS to see who was going to be the poor sap to have me in their class! Talk about shattering. Yet, even having been THAT child I failed to be as giving as I should be to those others who were THAT child when my daughters were going through school. I feel ashamed of myself, but know that reading this has given me a perspective that will ALWAYS be there from this time forward, so that when I see issues as my son moves into kindy and school I will be more kindly inclined towards those other beautiful children. Thank you SO, SO much for sharing.

  154. My son is in a class with a child who has ADHD. I know he has ADHD becuase his Mum told me. She also says that she thinks she did as a child too, but has never been diagnosed (“I feel like I have 10,000 little men in my brain just… marching. And they won’t stop.”). My son came back every day with tales about what Daniel* did. Every day. How he was “naughty”, who he hurt, what he broke… And I had a chat with my son about it. I asked my son to think of something that was really, really hard that he tries at school. He came up with “adding big numbers together”. I told him that when Daniel is asked to sit on the carpet with other children, it’s as hard for him as adding big numbers together is for my son. Similarly, my son cannot ride a bike, and yet Daniel can not only ride a bike, but ride it on the road, safely to and from school with his Dad. Because that’s as easy to Daniel as sitting still on the carpet is for my son.

    So no, he’s not naughty. His talents just lie in other areas. And since that little chat, I haven’t heard anything about what Daniel does. They are still in the same class, and Daniel still has ADHD. And the chat was over a year ago.

    *name has been changed to protect the innocent. 😉

    • Sarah White says:

      What a great way to help your son understand, sounds like your chat made a real impact! What I love most is you helped your son get to the answers himself. Excellent!

      • EVazquez says:

        And…you gave him the concept of perspective and a skill that will benefit him through life. Understanding, compassion and empathy are essential life skills. What a wonderful way to teach that to your son using examples he would understand at his developmental level. I will remember this one. I have read comments to this blog where the writer puts the onus on others to teach their children what they should be teaching them. They should read your comment… Thank you.

  155. Natasha says:

    My kiddo is THAT child. He is smart and loving but has a hard time controlling negative emotions. What you may not know is he was recently diagnosed with ADHD, left his friends that he has been with most of his life and daddy had to move away because of his job. As a parent of THAT child I see the stares and I hear the comments that you make about what type of parent I must be. What you don’t know is watching my son struggle breaks my heart everyday. I am learning all I can and constantly trying new things but it isn’t working. My self esteem is taking a hit every time someone tells me what I should be doing for my son. I doubt myself at every turn wondering if I made the right choices. The hardest thing of all is watching my kiddo play alone on the playground and him telling me that I need a new kid because he is broken.

    • Andrea says:

      He isn’t broken and you aren’t a bad parent. My son was 6 when I started to have to go to the school and get him. His behaviors increased as did the number of people we saw, the conditions he had and the medications he took. Every time I turned around it was my fault and my problem that caused my son to be THAT child. There is nothing you can do other than love him, hug him everyday and let him know that he makes your heart smile. My son is ADHD, Bi-Polar (among other things) and recently we added a little Hoarding to the growing list. Everyday is a roller-coaster of emotions of triumph and struggle. But every night I remind him that I love him and wouldn’t trade him for a “new kid” that everyday is a new day and we’ll start over again tomorrow.

    • Isa says:

      Hi Natasha,

      My son also has ADHD and has struggled in school but there is hope. If you haven’t heard of Executive Function (EF) skills (which are associated with ADHD) and their impact on learning and behavior, I would suggest you read Lost At School by Ross W. Greene, PhD. Other experts in the field of EF are Chris Dendy, PhD, Dr. Thomas E. Brown and Mark Bertin, MD. We have found a combination of medication (stimulants), therapy and accommodations at home and school have helped him to be more successful. Dealing with ADHD children is like running a marathon, not a sprint and requires lots of patience.

      Good luck and God Bless!

  156. Sarah says:

    Teachers are amazing! In our home State they get paid next to nothing and blamed for every bad kid that runs amok… AND YET they still show up to work. In what other profession would daily verbal abuse (from mostly parents) and poor pay be tolerated? As a employee that has to deal with maybe 2 difficult people a week I salute you! You men and women are amazing! I am so grateful for all you do!
    Now, as a parent to other parents out there… Look guys this is real life okay? When your son has a job and a super jerky co-worker are you going to call and complain to their manager? You cannot protect you kids from everything. You have to equip them to deal with difficult people! Sure I understand that bad behavior should not be acceptable no matter what a kid’s circumstances are… but what if we teach our kids compassion? How about some love? I know all I can do is to be a good Mommy to my kid. I teach them to love and spread joy. That is what I can do; what I have control of. Teachers aren’t replacement parents, we have to step-up and do that and then support the teachers as best we can.
    Thank you teachers!

  157. a mother says:

    That was my first child. The one who at 2 had savagely bitten another child and then been excluded from his second nursery. The one who absorbed information and could make anything and fix everything.
    My second was the angel who went on to support the ‘monster’ children in her school as she understood them and knew each day was a new day.
    My first didn’t have many friends as people were told to keep away by their parents.
    My second was friends with all the isolated children as she we had taught her right from wrong and chose not to pick up those children’s bad habits.

  158. Jennifer says:

    As both a high school teacher and a parent of “THAT” child, thank you.

  159. Sarah T. says:

    This truly is an amazing read. I am the mother of THAT child. And I love my son more than anything in this world. I have been doing everything possible to get him the help and support that he needs and to guide him along the path that all of the ‘other kids’ follow. It breaks my heart to see him have such fits of anger and frustration, then show sincere remorse when he realizes he hurt someone’s feelings or he was rude to a friend. It stings when I realize that the other kids ostracize him for being different. And I worry about him every day. It has strained my marriage, my job, my other children and my family. But we keep trying. I want to tell the other parents that he is doing so much better. He is a smart and kind little boy who has a heart of gold and befriends everyone he meets. But he is autistic and struggles with expressing emotions and social interactions. And even though he has a whole team of people, along with his family, to help him with his struggles, he is still going to be THAT child to everyone else. I want those parents to know that being THAT child is not what defines him. He sings to his baby sister and tells her how beautiful she is. He shares his treats with everyone around him. He finds something nice to say to people every day. He is a sweet little boy and he loves his family and friends. He is mine and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

    • Michele says:

      AMEN! Even I can fall victim to the occasional anger and fear directed at a child whose behavior seems disruptive, hurtful and out of control. Thank you for putting it into perspective. We could all stand a little more heart and compassion.

    • Angela. B. I raised 3 regular children on my own, 2 step-daughters part time too, the last child has Autism (mild / high functioning). I know how hard it is to be judged by other parents through school. If I hadn’t of had the first 3 children go through the same school as Sean did I would have totally had a break down. The teachers where very good with my son (with the exception of one). He now is nearly finished school as he is 18 years old. People should never judge other people’s children too harshly as “But for the Grace of God, go I!” No one every prays to have a child with the troubles we have had …. it is just the luck of the draw. Anyway, thanks to all the teachers out there, as it is very hard coping with children with special needs.

  160. Liz says:

    This was read out in staff briefing at my school today. I sat and cried for a long while after. Thank you for such a beautiful piece of writing.

  161. Mae says:

    Thank you so much for this. I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this. As the Foster and hopefully soon adoptive Mother of THAT child, it’s nice to be reminded of his beautiful qualities, because, I can assure you, it is easy to get frustrated and feel like an utter failure as a Mother when he comes home every day with a frowny faced stamp in his daily folder because of his behavior. I am extremely lucky in that he does have an amazing, kind, extremely understanding teacher, and she does her best to put a positive spin on everything she can, without sugar coating the problems. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to hear from another source that we will get through this, and love, more than anything else, helps.

  162. Elle Sisco says:

    I’ve been teaching for the past 22 years. I know exactly how you feel. I do hope that you know as much about the rest of the students in your class. The kid who’s parents got a horrendous divorce … and managed to hold it together…also deserves support. As do the kids who generally listen…and follow directions. They deserve to have their hand held in the hallway too.

  163. Cal says:

    As I sit here I am almost in tears. I was “THAT” child.

    I constantly interrupted the class with my (sometimes relevant, sometimes irrelevant) commentary. I solved my problems with hitting, kicking, and sometimes biting. I was constantly distracted. When I upset other students, I didn’t apologize. I had absolutely no friends.

    These were things that all of the students, teachers, and even most of the parents were aware of.

    What most of them did not know – or looking back now, what they chose not to know – was that my mother was extremely abusive. At home, every issue or frustration from my mother’s day was warped to become something I “caused”, and therefore the “punishment” she dealt out to me – physical, emotional, and mental – was something I “deserved”. I cannot express to the parents of ‘regular’ children how impossible your demands of “THAT” child are: can you imagine difficult it is for a 6-year old to have their mother slap them around on a daily basis, and then be expected to “use their words” to solve their own problems? You are asking a child who can barely write their own name to identify and master skills of social intelligence that adults study for YEARS at the PhD level to understand. Many people don’t realize (because their children do it automatically) that young children learn social cues and skills from their parents. In effect, I was inter-socially crippled as a child.

    What they didn’t know is that the ‘regular’ children (often in groups) would bully me, poke me, tease me, push me, threaten me… and that hitting or biting was the only thing that made them stop.

    What they didn’t know was that I went to a school counselor on campus multiple times a week to combat these issues, to learn to “use my words” when kids called me names when the teacher wasn’t looking, intentionally tripped me, or put my backpack in the sink. These were things most of them did not know.

    They didn’t know that my upbringing saddled me with crippling anxiety that literally made in impossible to apologize, no matter how much I genuinely wanted to, even when I’d made an innocent mistake – to the point that I often ran away and cried or threw up instead – an issue that I struggled with until HIGH SCHOOL. At home there were no apologies. My mother never apologized for what she did to me, and if I apologized for something, I admitted guilt… guilt was a dangerous thing to own at my house.

    What they didn’t know was that I spoke up in class because school was the only place anyone listened; because it was the only place anyone acted like my thoughts and opinions – no matter how trivial – actually mattered. It was the only place I could speak my mind without worrying if something I said would ‘set my mother off’.

    What they didn’t know is that, even though I attended a school in an extremely wealthy school district, we had only just stopped qualifying for food stamps the year before. I came to school almost daily without lunch. My mother often deprived me of meals as a form of punishment. What food I did eat always came from a drive-though. I often picked food out of the school garbage cans at lunch – whole bags of chips or cups of fruit thrown out. Again, in retrospect, this should have been an obvious sign to administrators that something was wrong. Instead, it served as another reason for my classmates to make fun of me. Is it any wonder I found it difficult to concentrate? I wore shoddy, ugly clothing that was second-hand, or even home made, which further distanced me from the wealthy students in my school.

    What they didn’t know is that at home, my mother told me I was awful, and stupid, and never should have been born. That she hated me. And so I hated me, too.

    Knowing all this, is it really so incomprehensible that I acted out??

    When your child comes home and tells you the story of THAT kid, I know that your default parental response is probably ‘avoid them’, or ‘they should be punished’, or ‘something must be done’, because you are gauging THAT child’s actions by the expectations you have for your own child. In reality, you need to gauge those actions by the knowledge that THAT child might be struggling just to survive. Instead of telling your child to give THAT child a wide berth, I would hope that you use it as an opportunity to teach and practice compassion. Tell your child to be extra kind to THAT child. Tell your child to stand up to others when they bully THAT child (and believe me, they do). Be kind, because chances are THAT kid is dealing with issues the likes of which you have never had to face as a grown adult, and they are being punished for it.

    As for me, I’ve spent my entire life painstakingly learning the social norms, cues, and skills that so many of you and your children take for granted. It took me until 5th grade to stop hitting kids. It took me until my senior year of high school to be able to apologize. It took me until college to be comfortable with it. The other day at school (I’m now an educator myself), a coworker remarked that I’m “such a social butterfly”. I stood frozen in the hallway in total shock. My coworker seemed confused, and asked if I was alright. I have now come so far from being “THAT” kid that no one who’s met me in my adult life can even imagine the handicaps I once dealt with, the issues which once seemed so insurmountable, the communication which once seemed so impossible for ‘someone like me’.

    For that reason, to the author of this post, I want to say THANK YOU from the very bottom of my heart. Growing up, most teachers viewed me (perhaps understandably) as an obnoxious kid who caused them extra work and stress. I am now a fully-functioning, socially adept adult because along the way, a few AMAZING teachers and coaches took the time to care about me, to understand me, and to help me be successful. I would not be where I am today without people like you.

    I know how stressful it is to care, the frustration of not being able to eat a meal or watch a movie or drive to work without thinking about “THAT” kid… but as a representative of “THOSE” kids, I have to tell you: it makes a difference. It makes all the difference in the world. I cannot possibly thank you enough for the countless small gestures which seem so insignificant to others, but which have literally made the difference between life and death for me, and for others who fall into the category of “THAT” child.

    Thank you for being the kind of teacher who has compassion – rather than just frustration – for “THAT” kid. Thank you for sharing those insights with those who, by luck or grace, will never have to fully understand the struggles of “THAT” child.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    And keep it up 🙂

    • Toni says:

      Thank you

    • Perly says:

      I cried for the childhood u went through… To all the teachers who understood and helped you along the way, i applaud them and God bless them! What a beautiful turnaround/ending for u! God bless U and all the people who paved your way with love and understanding and kindness!

  164. Heather says:

    I am a parent who rejoices daily because I am the parent of two beautiful miracles of God, but who are also each THAT child. My children live in a home with both parents who love each other and their children. They are not exposed to domestic violence, poverty, drug use, or any of the other horrible experiences some of these children have. Yet my children have their own crosses to bear – Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, mood disorders, and ODD. Not my crosses – theirs. Do they both take medication – yes. Do they both see a therapist – yes, a psychiatrist and a psychologist. Do I have hope – yes. But I also have a reality for the right not. The medications help, but not enough. The therapy helps, but not enough. Do I want your child to suffer – of course not. Do my children suffer – absolutely. I know this and my heart breaks a little every time I remember this. Please remember that all I want for my children is to have what you want for yours -happiness, safety, faith, hope and love. Thank God for the teachers who can give all of our children these things year after year. And please remember when you think about THAT child – he is also a child of God, somebodies baby, too.

  165. nikonmom says:

    Parents, there is a huge difference between understanding the root cause of behavior and excusing it. This teacher beautifully articulated that. As parents, as a society, we would do better to work together to understand the cause of THAT behavior and use that understanding as a tool to prevent it. Not to make excuses, or allow it, but to stop it once and for all. Not let it define that child. Because a child is more than their outbursts. They are more than their stressors. They are more than their diagnoses. I have encountered THAT child more than once, and in every. single. case. I saw a really sweet, beautiful child who was TRYING to be good. Was TRYING to cope. Was TRYING to control their behavior and emotions. I have seen the results of good teachers, loving parents, and doctors and specialists who worked with THOSE kids, and they have been beautiful. I’m trying to teach my very young boys to not accept THOSE behaviors from their peers, to not internalize the outburst as a problem in themselves, but to also not let THAT kid be defined by a bad moment. To see them as a whole person, who the majority of the time is kind, sweet, and worthy of love and friendship. When THAT kid is having a bad day to move on independently and give them and the teacher the space they need to cope. But when THAT kid is again under control, to reach out and include them, to accept them. My sons will be better for it. They will encounter difficult people they do not understand all their lives. If they can learn these skills to deal with them I’ll be very proud of them. And, I pray, THAT kid will be better off for it as well. We can all make a difference with patience, compassion and understanding. I will stand up for my children’s rights every day. I will always try to protect them. But I will also take the time to parent them, to teach them, to cope in the world with adversity. To not immediately banish it from their lives, but to understand and overcome it. To meet it head on. I pray they learn this.

  166. Tara says:

    I am with you on this, I think a lot of what was said here rings true but my issue always comes when that child is not properly corrected and does not grow in maturity through out the school years. As a middle school teacher I have seen the product of no one truly addressing THAT child I the appropriate fashion to change the behaviors. When children do not learn how to properly display unhappiness or anger it takes a toll on their educational goals and creates very negative environments in later grades. Not only do we need to feel compassion for these children and their parents we need to give them the tools to make sure the THAT kids becomes the creative, inspiring and discussion driving students many of them can be.

  167. cateyes says:

    I am THAT parent of THAT child. Yes I was THAT parent who was always the first one every year who had to go see the principal because me child had gotten aggressive with the teacher and bolted out of class. As THAT parent I can tell you that while my son was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and severe behavioral mood disorder at the age of 6 and I had tried the natural route, the food diet route, and eventually had no choice but to turn to medications it took me pleading and begging year after year with his school and teachers to get him additional help in school and the support he needed. My child, THAT child, always seemed to end up with teachers who would rather label him the “Bad” child instead of try to help. It wasn’t until he was in 2nd grade and had a teacher who truly understood what he was going through and WANTED to help that we were able to get the ball rolling. He is now in 4th grade and as long as he takes his medications and eats a good breakfast every morning he can function at school in a productive manner and not be angry and aggressive. I can tell you that those same medications that make it possible for him to think clearly and function at school also make him not want to eat and he has to force himself to everyday at lunch or else his blood sugar drops and no amount of medication can keep the anger away. And, that those same medications also make him really tired on some days and he falls asleep in class for a minute or two. However, I can also tell you he is on an IEP and goes to a special teacher once a week who helps him in areas such as writing and reading. And, I can tell you he goes to an special counselor once a week for anger management. But, without the support of his school faculty, and psychiatrist, and medications, my child would still be THAT child. The one who gets really aggressive with his teachers and bolts out of class. He would be THAT child that the other children are afraid of. THAT child who has no friends. But, he isn’t! He is the child who has tons of friends, and plays sports, is active in Boy Scouts, and never wants to be inside. Sure he still struggles to concentrate and he still gets upset. But he is learning to recognize it and manage it and his teachers are learning to recognize when he needs a quite place to “cool off”. And adults and children around him are able to recognize that he is also that child who would give the shirt of his back to help you and would be the first one to your side if you get hurt. You see THAT child may be angry and aggressive at times but THAT child is also the most caring, loving, and thoughtful child you’ll ever meet when they are given the tools and resources to help them manage how they feel inside.

  168. nikonmom says:

    You keep your kid in private school where you believe, perhaps rightfully, perhaps wrongfully, they are protected in a safe little bubble. Meanwhile, my son, who by the Grace of God is not THAT child but who has met a couple, will learn at an early age to take the time to understand people of different backgrounds and needs. He will learn to deal with people like that without taking on their issues as his own. He will learn ways to deal with the behaviors and show they are not acceptable or okay. He will learn to show compassion and love. Not make excuses. Not brush off as ok because they have issues. He will help them learn those behaviors are not ok, but that THAT kid, is a good person worthy of love and friendship. My son will be better for it, not endangered by it. He was the one that befriended THAT kid after I helped him understand better in preschool. He was not injured by the friendship. He grew from it. And, I can only hope, so did THAT kid. Oh, and THAT kid, by the way, was most often a beautiful, sweet little boy who was also fiercely protective of the younger kids. On more than one occasion when an older kid tried to take a toy from my younger son THAT kid intervened before my older son could cross the playground. With a little time, testing, and understanding his issues were diagnosed and by kindergarten he was able to function very well in a traditional classroom. Because his teachers didn’t give up on him.

    • MD Mom says:

      Your tune would no doubt be different if THAT child was assaulting your child and others on a recurrent basis. It is not a social good to force children to endure the abuse of peers.

      We saw this in our public school, saw that they made similar excuses to Miss Night’s without producing positive improvement. After multiple assaults from THAT child and further staff excuses, we said “never again” to any school that keeps all comers however troubled.

      We are fortunate but unapologetic that we can afford to put our child in a school with small class sizes, teacher-aide teams, and no tolerance for student violence, whatever the root cause.

      Our school assesses all prospective kindergarteners socially with a group playdate in the classroom, where teachers observe the children’s behavior and interactions, among other qualities. Obviously, children who act aggressively are not accepted.

      The result is not unblemished homogeneity, but a class that (with a few jags now and then) is able to learn together without constant distraction by an uncontrollable outlier. The school, so you know, is 45% non-white and run by Quakers, who are heavily into social justice, compassion and love.

      But even Quakers know that for $20k a year, their responsibility is to give an equal, outstanding education to every one of their students, and putting up with THOSE children absolutely disrupts that mission. So they don’t admit them, and the 250-child student body is – how else to put it – superbly functional.

      Our non-perfect child is happy there. We are happy that he’s happy now – and safe.

  169. Heather says:

    I’m the parent of “that” child, too, and there are some other “that” children in his class, at a wonderful private school. I’m thankful that we found one with small class sizes and a mandate of love for all children, where no one flunks out. The thing is, that “tiny terrorist” (please, never use that term for a child again?) may be the greatest teacher for your child on their road to acceptance and compassion. The world will need all it can get as they grow up.

    • nikonmom says:

      Heather, beautifully said. And the “tiny terrorist” comment made me gasp. As an adult, I deal with THAT coworker, or THAT person in the grocery line, or THAT driver. You know what? I have to deal. No one swoops in and removes them from making me uncomfortable. My sons need to learn to deal with all kinds of people, and I pray they learn to do so with kindness. We had THAT kid in my classes growing up. I did not feel slighted by the teacher, my parents did not run to the school with concern. I dealt. They dealt. The teacher dealt. I’m okay, and my kids will be too.

  170. Jane says:

    Crying like a baby. Thank you! I’m sending this to my sons teachers.

  171. SD says:

    Watching and working with THAT child has boundless learning opportunities for your child about life, compassion, patience, and differences. Many adults would benefit from some of these lessons as well.

  172. Beverley Hamilton says:

    I don’t understand how you think it is different ‘That’ child goes to private school too, being a parent of ‘that’ child doesn’t mean you don’t have money. You could be as rich as Cresus and still have that child

    • MD Mom says:

      Generally, private schools have fewer resources to accommodate behaviorally-challenging children, and there is no state mandate that they do so.

      Obviously, private schools rely on tuition, and parents able to pay tuition will have other options if the school dissatisfies them. If such schools lose enough enrollment due to a poor learning environment caused by THOSE children, these schools cannot fall back on public funding to survive.

      So – many private schools will take the tack that after a few strikes and reasonable staff effort, THAT child is gently sent on his/her way for the greater benefit of the school and other students.

      Retaining disruptive students in sympathy for their personal hardship is simply foolish, when the school relies on the goodwill (and cash) of other students’ families.

      Hard-hearted? No – pragmatic. People willingly pay a premium to send their children to schools where tough cases and special-needs children are simply not (re)admitted.

      We certainly can’t regret that our son is no longer trying to learn under the stress of sharing a classroom with an unpredictable, aggressive peer.

      THAT child’s parents were nice people. He was not. Perhaps one day he will be, but in the meantime, it would be cruel to force our son to tolerate THAT kid’s abuse, merely for the sake of some high-minded adult principle that expects the victim to tolerate his bully.

      Perhaps you don’t see this moral equivocation at work in Miss Night’s essay, but believe me, the excuses sound very familiar to us.

      When a teacher or school administrator tells you, “Well, we’re doing all we can with THAT child… Although I can’t tell you what’s wrong with him, just trust me… We need you to teach your child to be compassionate and try to understand,” that should be the cue to find another school.

      It was for us. YMMV.

  173. anna says:

    I love this as a parent Of that child sometimes

  174. Ruth Thompson says:

    Thank God for teachers like you. I wish we could clone you.

  175. Fish-outa-water says:

    You misunderstand the article if you feel this was to excuse “that kid.” Its a reminder that not everyone needs to be aware of everything going on with these kids. You’re right, kids don’t understand these behaviors or children with special needs. That’s where we as parents come in & teach them compassion, encourage them to lead by example, or simply be the better person & not retaliate whether physically or verbally.

    I would love nothing more than to have a private teacher for my “that kid.” I can’t afford it. He’s been tested, medicated, re-evaluated, counseled, therapy, disciplined, self-help books, prayed for & everything else. We remind him evert morning & every night the proper way to behave, that the sun does not revolve around him, people will treat him how he treats them. He knows right from wrong, he just makes crappy decisions. At the age of 10, he doesn’t have any friends, never been invited to a sleep over, & has “successfully” osterisized his slef amongst his peers & understanding adults on several occasions. He’s been the victim of bullying consistently (some of which was probably justified). I wish to whatever deity I could fix the lose wire in his head. (Or push him traffic on a bad day) It’s caused family strife & depression… “So what? What About my kid?” Not to be ugly, but you don’t give a crap because you are on the outside looking in. I’ll be honest, I’m guilty of that mindset too.

    You’re right, these kids aren’t more important than yours. Young children don’t understand special circumstances, they just want to see is not directed at them, rightfully so. Take that moment to teach your child compassion. That the world is not a Disney movie for everyone, that not all “bad guys” or “bad feelings” are easily identified. Offer to volunteer in the class & you might have a better understanding of what’s really going on. More importantly, don’t compound the situation by demanding the teacher or school “do something” ( unless there are severe circumstances, obviously). Parents who have “that kid” are more than likely aware of it. We don’t need to know your child is “uncomfortable”. Because tell us, how do belittlements & cries for justice solve the problem? Please tell us.

    – mom of “that kid”

  176. Angela says:

    I am not a parent of THAT child… I am the parent of the child who is the main target of THAT child. From the first day my 3 year old started pre-school he has been the target of THAT child’s every whim, fit, and pleasure. At drop-off I’ve seen him run right up and PUNCH my kid in the face unprovoked. I’ve heard crying fits for the first 6 months of his only time ever being away from me that he was hit again, bit again, hit in the face with a baseball bat at recess… had to go in for that one… had every block tower he made for me knocked down, every picture he colors gets ripped. I understand some kids have issues… and they are being resolved. THAT child is constantly in time out. But THAT is not the problem of THIS child’s mother, who has to get to school 45 minutes early because the drop-off is a very clingy routine after a 3 hour sleep night because THIS child had another nightmare and is afraid if he goes to sleep tomorrow will be a school day. THIS child feels abandoned by his mother every day that I leave him there because THIS child doesn’t understand that I’m not throwing him to the lions. THIS child and THAT child are paying the same amount in child-care costs and the solution is they can’t throw out THAT child but THIS child who is well behaved is welcome to leave (retreat from the bully) if I feel it’s too much for him. Well THIS MOTHER’s heart breaks for THAT CHILD but I am THIS CHILD’s mother. He is my heart, my soul, my breath,,, and I am also a single mother.

    • mira says:

      And all I can say is: would that child and your child have had a beautiful person, such as the one writing the post, for a teacher, you would not be writing this story.

      because a child at 4,5,6 – cannot be held responsible. But the adult who is in supervision, can. and from what I hear, the adult was missing.

      I am so sorry for your child. my heart breaks just as for mine, who became THAT child, from grade one until grade 3 when we met REAL teachers, who are in it for the children. they are working every day to help him become again the wonderful little boy he was before K. Public school.

      my 9 years old son’s best friend is a retired emeritus professor of over 80. he wrote to me one day after a visit, this fall, and made me cry, just like this post

      I talked with him a good deal, and found him marvelously polite, friendly, and intelligent. Way above normal!! He is both a credit to his parents, and a treasure to be protected and cultivated as a heaven-given responsibility


      THAT child, outside school.

      I thank God every day for the inspiration to move him away from his first school and for all the wonderful people who we met along his new school journey.

  177. Jodi says:

    This is a very well written article! I homeschool my kids, but that doesn’t mean they are exempt form THAT kid. I also have a Girl Scout troop and a Cub Scout troop as well as teaching Sunday school. I have had THAT kid in each situation. My son, who has mild ADD, seems to have a great understanding for the 2 boys in our den. He doesn’t ask questions or wonder WHY? Rather, he shows them as much compassion as he can muster. It warm my heart to see my 7 year old having more understanding than many adults. My 10 year old daughter on the other hand, is much less patient. She is very strong willed and defensive. She often complains to me about THAT kid. We have several conversations about how some parents may not be there to scold their kids, or how grandma and grandpa are tired and just want to be a real grandma and grandpa, or how daddy may drink and hurt the kids. Talk to your kids about their classmates! Sometimes I wonder if the sheltered and protected kids aren’t the ones in public schools rather than the homeschool kids! Some day your kids will be out there working with THAT kid, teaching THAT kid, or even raising THAT kid! I have no doubt that even at 5, a child can have a limited understanding of compassion. Sure we want to protect our kids, but sheltering them and keeping them under our wing is not doing them any justice. Teach them about the world! Teach them how to deal with situations, not how to avoid them!

  178. Cedar says:

    Do you imagine a world where THOSE children are in isolation in school? Imagine then, that those children are now grown ups and released into the real world with your own child, now grown up, and never having known anyone like that existed, much less learned compassion for them or strategies to work with them. And now spend a moment being immensely grateful for the opportunity each “typical” child has with this amazing teacher standing by. They learn to be assertive, to be compassionate, to see a 3D picture of another human, to recognize the good in THAT child, through the teacher’s eyes. You should have been so lucky yourself as to develop that compassion and humanity. Don’t take it away from your child. And as a teacher at a fancy private school, THAT child will be there too, count on it. I know them and I love them, and I see the other kids grow from their experiences with them. Let’s hope you will, too.

  179. Jen says:

    I am a parent of “that child”. He gets angry and frustrated very easily, and its hard and frustrating, but he’s also one of the sweetest kids I know. When he’s having a good day, all of the kids LOVE HIM, but he can flip in an instant. I’m getting him into therapy, and I’m getting him the help that he needs, but its all frustrating and heartbreaking since I’m the only “parent” that actually cares.
    My son was suspended the other day, and he is in Kindergarten, because of his behavior. Its been a tough road, but I’m taking it day by day.

  180. Sarah "Swearah" says:

    Wow…this post hit so many nerves with me, I just couldn’t read it without crying…I WAS THAT KID! My parents divorced when I was 5, I was sent to live with my grandparents, then to my aunt’s house, where I suffered sexual abuse from an older cousin, then my parents got back together only to split up 2 and a half years later leaving me to live with my pothead couchpotato father. I really acted out after that, hitting and kicking classmates, swearing profanely and profusely every time I was angry or hurting or bullied. I had to be moved to another classroom halfway through 3rd grade, then halfway through 4th grade I was sent to a completely new school that specialized in “Emotionally Impaired” children. I had so many awesome teachers throughout elementary school who did their best to show me nothing but love while I acted out and terrorized my classmates. God bless you and thank you to all the teachers who teach and show kindness and compassion to THAT kid, KEEP IT UP! You will be remembered as rays of light shining through the darkness of a child’s life. Thank you to Mr. Carr, Ms. McCarthy, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Reddaway, Mrs. K., Mrs. Place, Mrs. Butka, Mrs. Lesner, Mrs. Lounds, and Mrs. Reistch for teaching me and showing me kindness and compassion when I was THAT kid.

    • nikonmom says:

      I don’t know why, but you calling out the teachers specifically by name brought the most tears. So well stated. I’m sorry for your pain and rough journey starting out in life. You didn’t deserve it. I do hope that you’ve been able to heal as the mistakes of the adults who failed you were not your fault, or your weakness, but theirs.

  181. Rhonda says:

    What an amazing read. My daughter had many issues and finally met her champion in high school. Life will forever be a little more difficult for her, but I am so happy that she finally received the counselling and testing she needed to get her through those last years of school and help her to understand her anger. I applaud teachers who found their true calling and is able to really see.

    Sincerely, That Mother

  182. Meghann says:

    As a parent of THAT child who TODAY needed to read this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. There are days when i am brutally worn out, tired, exhausted to my core. My son is the light in my life and my whole heart – so when he is struggling and when his ADHD causes him to have THOSE days – it breaks me to pieces. For every other parent out there who deals with this daily or even rarely – keep your chin up.

    • ainemistig says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth Meghann. I second everything she said, verbatim.

      THANK YOU for writing this, Teacher!

  183. TdlS says:

    Thank you for this beautiful letter. I get that it is complicated, and that there are no excuses. I admire your compassion and your plea for compassion and understanding from others. Your students and their parents are lucky to have you as their teacher

  184. Meredith says:

    Thank you. Thank you so very much for standing up for us and caring for our children. For perhaps opening some eyes and minds. Thank for the words of a mother of “that child” could not and did not have time to write.

  185. Rebekah Peace says:

    Thank you so very much. I am a parent of “that” child and I value the professionals in our lives, which includes his teachers. A teacher like this is a huge blessing to every child but especially for “that” child and his parent(s). You are truly living a profession that I believe to be a calling and this is a post which gives hope to the parents out there who live with “those” children that they aren’t alone and there are people out there who will love and care for their child just as they do.

  186. Monica says:

    Alot of problem is funding. Yes, schools get extra money for kids with disabilities, including behavior disorders. But only once diagnosed, and you cannot test a child without parental consent. And there is no rule saying the money the school gets has to be spent in the SPED department.

    My last school, for example, had 6 kids diagnosed as behavior disorders. 7 kids would have required a special teacher. Which we were supposed to cover helping there teachers while 3 of us taught 42 with learning problems of other types thst required pulling them out of class for reading and/or math, and a special class of 9 for the mentally handicapped. The school district had a behavior specialis to “support” us. He covered 5 schools all over town, and had 30 kids on his caseload. Since ours in Elementary school were deemed less dangerous than the high school kids, we were lucky to see him 5 hours a week. The school district was building a new football stadium, but couldn’t afford to pay the salary for an extra aide that could help remove kids or help in classrooms where the could help these students before frustration became violence. No one wants to pay more taxes, so teachers are having to del with a whole lot more problem behaviors with o UT the supports they need to do it well

  187. bjronline says:

    Teachers will come and go but they are not all the same. Hopefully your child is blessed to have a great teacher like the one portrayed in this wonderful poem. With a spirited child on the ASD spectrum, our family has lived much of what is being said here. We are constantly working with teachers and staff to make the best environment for everyone to learn. It was not until this year (Grade 5) we were able to make a change in our district. He is in a special program where his teachers are positive and really listen to his needs. This has led to far less distraction and helps to keep him mainstreamed in the classroom. My advise to other parents with children who are struggling is to work with the schools and never give up!

  188. Karen Corekin says:

    As an early childhood and special educator, I have also had manyy of “THOSE” children in my classrooms over the past 30 years. I have always believed that behavior is communication and each child’s behavior is trying to tell me something important. It is my job as an educator to keep listening until I understand and work to figure out what to do for each child. As for parents with anxiety about “THAT” child… if we are ever going to live in a world where people treat each other with not just tolerance, but compassion and understanding, then we MUST treat EVERY child, even “THAT” child, as we would our own.

  189. Mom of David says:

    Thank you, my child was once “THAT KID” and with the work at home and WONDERFUL teachers and schools, he is no longer “THAT KID”. He still has many issues, but is such a loving sweet boy, and all the teacher like having him, and he helps with whomever “THAT KID” is…

  190. Bethany says:

    I read this on the Washington Post, and it truly brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful insight! My daughter is 2, but this letter will stay with me when she goes to school!!

  191. Jann.Coulson says:

    There is a way that all children could be helped but it would cost a bit more, require flexibility and a bit less ego within the profession, and no one seems to be seriously discussing it. As the medical profession, the legal profession,the accounting profession and the financial professions have become more challenging and complex they wisely expanded their profession to include para-professionals that are respected experts in their fields, who sometimes choose to get additional education and full-professional status. But in most medical offices, law offices, accounting offices, financial services firms and any other place I turn for professional help I often get the best attention, conversation, and evolving understanding at the desk of that para-professional. But as classroom sizes fluctuate, as a teacher deals with their own serious health issues or that of a child or parent, as the classroom deals with THAT precious, promise-filled kid, it is ALL being dumped on teachers, not all of which are “A” teachers, not all of which are seasoned teachers, not not yet burned-out teachers.

    I have two precious daughters-in-law and a best friend who chose to work as para’s even though they were each qualified and gifted to be in a classroom. The experience of both (in districts as different as it is possible to be) was they they were treated with disrespect and disregard. They were treated about like the “volunteer mom” who is assumed to be without higher education or credentials and with a bit less kindness than the janitor.

    The NEA, the PTSA, the school boards, along with teachers and parents need to quit being so worried about the “status of teachers” and become more flexible, allowing the very best of teachers to become resource coaches because principles no longer have the time to provide classroom supervision. There needs to be a Sr. teacher for each discipline or grade level that is based on something other than years of service or college hours. There need to be paras available by schedule for times when the teachers are either personally needing some help (we had a very fine teacher nearly die trying to be her normal excellent teacher and get a serious (non-infectious) illness under-control while the district’s answer was “take leave or get it together!” Paras can also be scheduled for teachers as it becomes clear that they have more than one of THOSE kids. Paras should be recruited with requirements with educational standards or at least education being actively pursued. And it would not be a bad idea for school districts to have some vocational-rehab services to mentor folks who thought they wanted to be a teacher, but find it is much harder work that it appeared to a talented student looking for summers off or whose gifts and talents are better suited to another job within the school district (and I do NOT mean bump poor teachers up to administration!) or work in another sector all together. A seriously struggling teacher spreads unhappiness faster than water flows downhill in a torrential rain.

    Come, beloved teachers, out of the 17th century paradigm and welcome new ways to empower parents (who may be intimidated by your degrees and credentials), embrace the best in all members of the education team, either help struggling teachers to get better or to find the courage to seek a new path. And for heaven’s sake, be kind and empowering to fellow teachers whose special gifts and abilities might make you better and STOP looking down your nose down at your fellow professionals called to specialties like reading, computer skills or special ed, because too many of you do!

    Come on folks, let’s not only respect the challenges of teaching, let’s be courageous in welcome everyone to the table to make the best it can possibly be.

    • Heather says:

      I LOVE this reply. Amen amen amen!

    • Karen Rakowitz says:

      I applaud your daughters-in-law for their service to education. Not all teachers and administrators treat para-professionals as you described. I am retired after 30+ years of teaching in low income and poverty schools. I treasured all those who helped in my schools whether their education came from an institution of higher learning or from life experience. And at my school. our janitor was a revered member of our staff with over 30 years in the same school!

      Our problem, and I am from a state where education is NOT valued by our government, is money. Education budgets are cut year after year and money is not available for ‘paras’, for materials, for special education teachers, for specialists, for building and technology maintenance, for up to date technology. I haven’t seen a para-professional in a general classroom for decades! We rely on volunteers from a local church and parents to help in our classrooms. It is the rare classroom that gets an ‘aide’ to work with a special education student who has severe disabilities. Yes, these students often disrupt the classroom and the teacher is burdened with the task of maintaining a learning environment while trying to teach the curriculum to ALL students. Our school has tried many different programs to help give teachers tools to use so that students may learn.

      Yes, we do have mentoring programs in place for teachers who are struggling and also for teachers new to the profession. But, these mentors also have their own classrooms and responsibilities during the day. I agree that not all teachers should be teachers but the same happens in all professions. With new pay for performance evaluations that are being put into place to evaluate teachers, hopefully those who are not cut out for teaching will leave the profession. That also brings to mind – how many other professions do you know that evaluate their staff ever single year?? Teachers go through a rigorous evaluation by administrators every year.

      Stop blaming the teachers for all of these problems!! It would greatly help educators if some of the critics of teachers came into the schools and walked in a teacher’s shoes for a week or two to see what REALLY goes on in classrooms. Come in at 6:30 AM and leave at 5:00 PM, go home and take care of your family, then sit down and write plans for the following week or mark papers or create materials for that special lesson the next day or make phone calls to parents about their children or write up concerns about students to take to the student study team meeting or… The list goes on and on. Walk in a teacher’s shoes and then tell me that the blame goes to the teachers.

  192. […] many children and families facing hardships and need a little extra support.  Here’s a letter, Dear Parent:  About THAT kid…, that’s an all too real reminder of the difficult job we do every day to teach and love each and […]

  193. […] Dear Parent: About THAT kid… – Dear Parent: I know. You’re worried. Every day, your child comes home with a story about THAT kid. The one who is always hitting shoving pinching scratching… […]

  194. Christine says:

    While I get this
    My son was nearly killed by that kid and
    A couple of his pals.
    It wasn’t until a great juvenile court officer held that kid accountable, that he got on course.
    Fortunately, my son was able to recover and move on.
    Even compassion has boundaries.

  195. La says:

    I don’t think the author is making excuses for that kid. Just that it would not be appropriate for her to share about the work the child/family/school is doing to change the behavior or the gains the child has made or the many strengths the child has. This is hard for most parents because they feel that if their child is being victimized they have a right to this information but that wouldn’t be fair to that child. That child is entitled to the same privacy as your child.

    • PJ says:

      It all sounds good until your child winds up in a serious medical emergency because of one of these kids.It all worked out for us .When a childs life is in danger it is the parents business.

  196. Cherry Ann Ferguson-Baptiste says:

    Thank you for that article. I have that child in my homeroom. I have had parents ask me what are you doing about that kid many times. I feel re-assured that I have answered the question correctly.

  197. Pat says:

    My grandkids are that child. They have witnessed domestic violence, dad is an alcoholic and does drugs. Mom is going thru depression. They go back and forth from our home to dad. Presently, they live with their grandfather, me and their aunts. One has a learning disability. They are hurting. These are not excuses – this is the reality these children face daily. We are trying to help them as best we can. We need support too.

  198. Stephanie says:

    Thank you!

  199. I cried at the moment my son is that child and it breaks by heart

  200. anon says:

    As a kid, I was on the receiving end of “that kid”‘s bullying and know what? I had problems as a kid too – lots of them – and didn’t take it out on others, didn’t bully others. The bullying from those kids just compounded the other problems I had. Sorry, my well of compassion runs dry sometimes, but there are times when ‘That Kid’ is just a brat who needs to stop having people excuse their behaviour. In my case (as a kid), hearing adults make excuses and rationalisations for ‘That Kid’s nastiness towards me just made me feel like it was all my fault, or that what happened to me (like getting kicked in the shins until they were bruised and swollen) didn’t matter. Think of that other poor kid and how rough they had it. Sorry, I can’t. Firm boundaries still need to be set that certain actions are never okay.

    • Ettina says:

      Just because some kids are victimized and don’t take it out on others doesn’t mean the kids who are victimized and do take it out on others have a choice, any more than the fact that not all people exposed to second-hand smoke get lung cancer means getting lung cancer is a choice. People react to the same thing differently. Research is starting to identify genetic and prenatal factors which make some children more sensitive to trauma and loss. For example, kids with the DRD4 7-repeat polymorphism, if raised in a good, stable home, are better-behaved than kids with the other allele; but if raised in a dysfunctional home, they have a much higher rate of ADHD and oppositional behavior than kids with the other allele.

      Also, not all victimization is equal. I was sexually abused by foster siblings from the ages of 1-5, meanwhile being raised by two loving, supportive parents who stopped the abuse as soon as they found out. My foster siblings, meanwhile, were abused and neglected by both of their parents, got passed around between extended family members, and were systematically trained to abuse each other by their psychopathic father (it’s easy to manipulate little kids, and he liked corrupting people). There’s a huge difference between what I went through and what they went through. If I’d gone through what they had, I honestly believe I’d have been just as bad as them. How could they be any different? For their first decade of live, everyone they had anything more than casual contact with was part of the abuse. They had no one they could count on (not even each other).

      Different kinds of abuse have different effects. Abuse from different targets has different effects. Abuse at different ages has different effects. And it’s also vital to look at what’s missing in their lives – does anyone love this kid? Has anyone been there for them consistently, for a majority of their life? Did they have a loving parent as a toddler, when they were first learning how to relate to people?

      Just because you and I were victimized and didn’t take it out on others doesn’t mean the ones who do take it out have made a choice to do so. My foster siblings honestly didn’t know any other way to live. The only time they got any loving parenting was when they were in their teens, and they couldn’t recognize it for what it was because they’d never seen it before.

      What happened to you matters. No child should be treated like that, and it certainly wasn’t your fault. But that doesn’t mean that other kid chose to be a bully, or that their tragic backstory makes no difference.

    • gemma says:

      8 years working in a uk behaviour school and fully agree

  201. C. Heretic says:

    My wife was tormented by THAT Kid, and the schools just made excuses for them. Coming from a bad home, doesn’t excuse assault, teasing, fit-throwing, etc. to say otherwise is to commit a fallacy of logic and ethics. Having therapy for THAT kid is great, as behavioral difficulties are part of growing up.Tteachers have a greater duty to the kids who behave. give THAT kid their own class, and let the rest learn. then, maybe they’ll turn out great in the end.

  202. Sabrina says:

    When my daughter was 5 years old she was THAT child. With the kind, patient support and acceptance of her wonderful teachers, she has grown into an independent, successful college student. And she hasn’t bitten anyone in years, LOL!!

  203. JK says:

    This is beautiful. A great reminder that we all have to have more compassion. Every child deserves to have their unique needs respected and met in school.

  204. Jennifer Ryan says:

    Thank you for this post. It describes me as a teacher perfectly. Thank you for justifying what I do and reassuring me that it is good and right. Thank you

  205. melissa says:

    I was dubbed that child, but was just an active child. I did not like to sit still, I loved to move. I did not like things unless they were visual. I got bored easily. My teachers though thought that I was the cause of all problems, and would tell my parents and other parents this. So I grew up till I found a teacher that cared, being that child. The child that was always picked on, the child that was beaten up because of her hair color, the child that did not have both parents, and most of the time neither of them. I was the child that was adopted, I was the child that had different clothes, because my dads girlfriends niece was a designer, and I got to wear the up and coming stuff. So when a child is dubbed all of these things there are often reasons why. Thank a teacher that cares enough to find out those things.

  206. Joanne says:

    Wow…this is spot on. I work at a school that has alot of “that child” in it. The staff at our school is terrific. We advocate for every child we work with. I can’t tell ya how many glares I get a day because I told little Johnny that’s not appropriate behavior, but then 5 min. later i’m getting a hug & they say I love you. We treat each child as if they were our own. We look for the good in all them, yes even the bad ones have a good side. At times we wish we could take them home & help them, but we can’t. We give them hugs, tell them how great they are & hope while they are with us they are feeling safe & know how much we care about them.

  207. zeniamc says:

    Yes. Just, yes. This is it right here.

    Thank you.

  208. […] Miss Night’s Marbles – Dear Parent: About That Kid […]

  209. Tara says:

    Deidre, Oh my. It’s as if you were writing about my son who will be 5 in a few months. I would love to chat with you about our boys’ situations. His sister is almost 6. It’s as if I was meant to see this.

  210. Narelle says:

    I am a parent of two ‘your child’ kids who have been the victim of many more than one ‘that child’ kids. I hear the excuses of what ‘that child’ may be going through in life, but my kids have been through way too much in their young lives than anyone should have to bear. One of them had Leukaemia, and the other had to witness his brother going through some very horrible times. He also had another condition which made the treatment very difficult and ended up in PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) many times fighting for his life. He has fought hard and is thankfully still with us. They have also recently had to deal with myself fighting cancer. And also their grandparents. I am also a single parent for more than half a year as my husband works away. I’m not saying that ‘that kid’ should be an angel, as everybody handles things differently, but should I not be able to feel safe about my child going to school? I should not have to worry that my child who is a bit more fragile than most, should continue getting hurt, (including stress fractures in his legs), and my other older child getting bullied so bad that in one instance he was turning blue in the face? My kids are no angels themselves, but they don’t hurt other kids, or bully them, even with what they have been through. Where does it stop?

  211. mytilda says:

    What an incredibly eloquent and articulate synopsis of the work of our teachers. I am an Australian primary school principal and I have sent this link to all of my staff and put it on our community FB page. Thank you.

    • Mark says:

      I concur – I spent 20 years as a UK infant teacher and struggled to meet the demands from both sides in the way you describe so well.

  212. BAb says:

    Enough said…great article. Thank you for your perspective.

  213. […] connected to children or education in any way, if you read nothing else this week, read this: Dear Parent, About THAT Kid by Miss Night […]

  214. Heather says:

    Wow. Thank you. As Mom to “THAT kid” I wish all teachers shared your point of view. I know that can’t possibly be the truth, but it is my wish. My hope is that my son’s teacher does. As this is our first year in school, we’re still in the beginning stages of the parent meetings and staff roundtables to discuss “that kid” that is mine. It’s a scary place to be, a lonely place to be, and most certainly a stressful place to be as I worry about how my son is being treated by the teacher. And this gives me hope. Thank you.

  215. Chris says:

    Thank you!

  216. Liz Szilagyi says:

    Love this! I taught many of “those children” while working in an inner city public school system. Few people really understand how much heart teachers put into the lives of their students. Keep up the amazing work!

  217. Roger Emery says:

    A beautifully well-written and accurate text. It should be used as a standard document for every parent / carer to take a clear time to read fully and understand every single year, because in the midst of it all, and with the very best intentions, we all forget all the things that our busy teachers añd LSAs cannot do and cannot say about any of us or our children. Rules that, however frustrating are present because of well-evolved good professional standards that absolutely exist in place to protect not only our children, but us, our families and our privacy. It works for everyone, especially on those occasions, rare or frequent when my or our perfect child becomes, “THAT CHILD” for an hour, a day, even forever
    Maybe teachers and LSAs should read it too, just to remind them rhow enormously easy it is to make a simple mistake or even give in the to a temptation and break one tiny rule that hurts, damages, upsets, reduces the safety of an entrusted child, parent or simply ends a promising career, or even a life.
    All that PLUS the ability to connect appropriately and positively with each individual child and parents or carers or both at the drop of a hat!

  218. Alex says:

    I teach full day kindergarten in Ontario. We just finished parent/teacher interviews. For many reasons it has been the most difficult fall term of my teaching career. Thank you for this. There is comfort knowing that there are others who feel the same way and struggle with the same challenges. Reading this brought tears to my eyes and allowed me the the outlet to let go of some of the difficult stuff. Thank you.

    Overwhelmed in Ontario

  219. […] Today an article on teaching and managing difficult students popped up on my Facebook news feed. It was written by Amy Murray, an early childhood educator in Canada, and posted on her blog Miss Night’s Marbles. The post is an open letter to parents, concerned about ‘that’ kid in their child’s class – the ‘naughty’ child, the one who kicks and screams, the one parents are worried is preventing their child from getting the best education and proper level of attention from the teacher. I highly recommend reading the full article here. […]

  220. Jen says:

    As a parent of both a That child (x2) and a Your child (x2) I want to thank YOU from the bottom of my heart! I wish all educators of a That child were so supportive.

  221. […] post is inspired by a recent post that has gone viral titled “Dear Parent: About THAT Kid” by an educator in Calgary, Alberta. It is a powerful post and I encourage you to read it. […]

  222. Liz says:

    Thank you for posting this and for being the teacher you are! My child was one of those and thanks to lots of support from good teachers like you over the years, he is now a High School teacher.

  223. Felicia says:

    Thank you for standing up for THAT kid. My munchkin is THAT kid too. He honestly can’t help when he is that kid, as so many of them can’t. I think your post is a great way to hopefully make people start thinking in a bigger picture level. I won’t share my munchkins history as it is not mine to share but sometimes nothing a parent does or doesn’t do helps the behaviors. Medications for health issues, being removed and placed in a new home, starving for attention because mom or dad works all the time to try and make ends meet, it isn’t the child’s fault. I am blessed to have an amazing team of teachers on my child’s and my team to work with what we can do and it’s because of amazing teachers like them and you, who go out of their way to help us that he is as successful as he is and we now have good spells at school. THANK YOU for being a wonderful compassionate, loving teacher.

  224. Fiona says:

    Such a beautiful and deeply moving piece of writing. A level of compassion that should be shared to make our world that much better… and your part could be the difference in THAT childs life. I applaud you and your work…

  225. […] You may have seen this already, a friend of mine passed it on to me and I’ve since discovered that it’s making its rounds in the news and social media.  This needs to be shared as much as possible.  As a Special Education teacher, it resonates with me and my heart breaks for every Gavin and Talitha that I’ve ever known.  There isn’t a night that I don’t stay up late worrying about their futures, you know the ones they have after they graduate and leave my class. […]

  226. Mary says:

    This was beautiful. I’m not a teacher, but I have a bit of experience on both sides.
    Throughout 7th grade, I was the target of that child. At the time, I had no idea what was going on with her. All I knew was that I was sick with fear of going to school. Fast forward to 9th grade. She pulls me aside and apologizes and explains about divorce and an ugly custody battle, about anger and fear and frustration. We became and remain good friends. My eldest child was named after that child.
    On the flip side, my son was that child. He had social, behavioral and other challenges. Until 4th grade, his teachers were marvelous. However, his 4th grade teacher was quite the opposite of what you describe. So much so that even with love and support at home, he tried at 10 to hang himself. He ended up inpatient in a mental health facility for two months. It was a full time job raising him.
    I’m happy to report that he is now 21, self-supporting and a genuinely good guy.
    There is hope, no matter which side of the situation you’re on.

  227. Deidre says:

    We’re having problems with my 5 year old in Pre-K to the point that I’m having to sit in class with him….We however have an appointment to have him evaluated to see if there is something more going on than ‘just sheer orneriness.” Also, I have to say, that his teacher is exactly like the teacher that wrote this article and I am SO THANKFUL that God put us where we are in order for her to be able to be his teacher. I worry about him distracting and taking away from the other children in the classroom that are there and willing and want to learn. That’s why I go to class with him and I also help out the teacher with other things when she needs help. It’s not fair to her or the other kids in the classroom when he acts up, so since I am able (and I know that there are situations that the parents aren’t able to for whatever reason and that’s okay!) to go and help her, I will do so. I’m afraid that he may have ADHD along with another disorder called ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I go to speak with a psychologist on the 20th of this month and then I have to take him in to see her so she can evaluate him on the 26th….Hopefully we can figure out what’s going on….In the meantime, I’ve found some positive action suggestions that I’ve been trying to use with him. He also likes to pray and watch Veggie Tales and likes watching the videos on LifeKids.tv, so I have him and his older (6 year old) brother watch them once a week, and if they ask to watch them more than that, I am MORE THAN happy to let them watch!

    • Katie says:

      ADHD is something that no one should be afraid or ashamed of. It is not always easy to live with, but life isn’t easy. My mother spent a lot of time advocating for my sister and myself; a school system that does not understand, and that stigmatizes ADHD is the hardest part. Be loving and supportive. Things always take me 3x longer to get done than they do for anyone else. It’s hard knowing that you’re capable of so much, but unable to always get it out there. It’s frustrating! The unconditional support from my mother, having someone that always believed in me, was the most important thing.
      I’ve never had straight A’s. I had to retake a class in high school (sometimes I just can’t handle everything on my plate – I got a high A when it was all I had to think about). I had to take one fewer class every semester in college, and was always, always doing homework. But I loved it! I graduated in 4 years, cum laude. A grades aren’t everything. Growing up, it was always “did you do your best? Did you try your hardest? That’s all I can ask for”.

      An ADHD mind works differently. It can be frustrating trying to get it to function “correctly” for society, but in its element it is a beautiful thing.

      Support, love, and encourage your child. Listen to them. Fight for them. Don’t make them feel ashamed about it. Don’t fear it.

      • Deidre says:

        Thank you so very much for the encouragement! I promise you, I will most definitely support, love, and encourage them! 🙂 I have some family members that have special needs when it comes to learning, and I always have and always will continue to encourage them and cheer them on! No, I couldn’t ever make them feel ashamed about it. Just because they learn in a different way than what society considers ‘normal’ doesn’t make them any less of a person or any less smart! 🙂 It makes me so super angry when anyone belittles, makes fun of, or demeans a person with special needs when it comes to learning or anything else! My other son (he’s 6) had to have speech therapy while in Pre-K and for the first 3 months of this school year. He has now been dismissed from it, however, because he has improved so much! I sincerely believe that if he wouldn’t have had the speech therapy when he did, he would still be struggling! So I am all for anything that will help them better themselves or learn better! Also, I have to say, if I EVER hear of anyone belittling, making fun of, or demeaning another person with special needs concerning learning or anything else, I WILL SAY SOMETHING!!! If we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place! It is so awesome and wonderful to see ANYONE grasp a concept or learn something new, especially if they’ve been struggling to learn it. Not that I wish that on anyone, because I surely do not. They may not make it to the top of their class or get a perfect grade every time, but that’s okay!!! I make it a point to let them know that as long as they do their best and try their hardest, that is ALL I will ever ask of them and one of the ways that I back them up is telling them I love them very much and I am proud of the accomplishments they achieve and for their efforts! 🙂
        Again, thank you for the encouragement! I know that with help, he will be able to accomplish great things, regardless of whatever the outcome is!

  228. I have had THAT kid every year…for the past 27 years. And sometimes… there are more than just one…of THAT kid!

  229. Concerned Mom says:

    Are you saying that you can work behind the scenes for long-term resource which may help THAT child with his/her developmental or mental issues, but you cannot prevent THAT child from being physically abusive to other children in the classroom until THAT child learns to control him/herself?

    • Yes, that’s what teachers are saying. In order to prevent all possibility of violence by THAT child, a teacher would have to spend all of their time monitoring THAT child’s interactions just about exclusively. That means no time spent helping YOUR child pick a new independent reading book or listening attentively to YOUR child talk about the new puppy or walking YOUR child through a math problem again, unless YOUR child is sitting next to THAT child. The wonderful thing about working behind the scenes for long-term resources is that it can be done without neglecting YOUR child, because those arrangements are made and those meetings are held after school or while YOUR child is with another teacher.

      If you want to prevent all possibility of adverse interactions, every THAT child would need a full-time aide. Until education is funded well enough to hire that many aides, there will always be the possibility that THAT child will act out when their teacher is paying attention to YOUR child.

  230. Nikki says:

    For most of my life I was the ‘Your child’. But for a while I was THAT child. The grumpy one with a hidden and painful background. My teachers were my rocks for exactly the reasons you have described. It meant that when I totally lost it at another student and yelled at them so loud that the deputy headmaster heard from the other end of the corridor, I was taken to an office where I could let off steam and pull myself together without being lambasted for my behaviour. Had I been punished It would have done sooo much damage, but the teachers knew this. I owe a lot to my teachers.

  231. Enola Vaughn says:

    This made me cry. I’m not really sure why. I am a parent to a great 4 year old preschool student. And by trade I’m an elementary teacher with no job. This really touched my heart. There are so many kids that the only place they receive the love, care, and attention they need is at school. You really care for your students. I hope my daughter has a teacher just like you one day.

  232. KBE says:

    Thank you for this post. I teach preschoolers with and without special needs in an inclusive environment in Washington, D.C., an I saw your post republished in the Washington Post. It is so poignant and insightful. Thank you for being a voice for so many teachers’ thoughts.

  233. Couldn’t help but notice the reference to having a “special spot on the carpet or sitting on a chair rather than the floor”. I can’t sit on the floor without pain as an adult and couldn’t as a child either. I couldn’t cross my legs because of a ham-string problem and did sometimes sit on a chair. (Some of the other descriptions applied to me as well, although I wasn’t generally violent. I had a non-functioning thyroid until I was 4, and it took a long time to correct the damage. Had an Asperger’s diagnosis in my early 30s.)

  234. rachel says:

    We have THAT child at our school. But he has two loving parents who think he is wonderful. This child constantly disrupts the class. He strangles kids and punches them when he feels like it. He throws rocks and says he is going to kill them if he doesn’t get his own way. He gathers other kids into his ‘club’ and entices them to do the same. He is highly intelligent.
    I believe every child has a right to feel safe at school. And our children aren’t. When do you say enough is enough. When someone gets seriously injured?

  235. Becca says:

    I’m not a teacher, but I am the grandparent of a child who was…for a time…THAT child (the horrendous divorce of which he and his sister were smack dab in the middle, speech therapy from the age of three, an auditory processing learning disability that made trying to read an excruciating exercise in frustration…and more). If it wasn’t for the patience and understanding and dedication to helping him that he received from EVERY teacher he had, he would not have made it through to the other side and become what he is now…a sweet, sensitive, caring young man of 12 who is now able to speak clearly, who has learned a way to read that works for him so that he is now an avid reader for pleasure as well as for school and who has learned to channel the frustrations that DO arise in a non-hurtful and positive way. Sure, we worked on these things with him at home…but it was his teachers who also cared and were there helping EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. Thank you to them and to ALL of you who make such a difference in the lives of our young ones. We are so grateful.

  236. Kiki says:

    I believe that teachers need to be able to teach. They should not have to take on the role of behavior specialist, social worker, psychiatrist for any child on a consistent basis. Every child has a bad day once in a while and that’s ok. I’m talking about chronic behavior. I don’t see why things have to get so complicated and so much put on teachers. So simple, if a child chronically misbehaves and takes learning time away from classmates every day, that child leaves the class and gets the professional help they need. Every school should have a system set up so this child gets the help they need right away by professionals, outside the classroom. Perhaps a seperate quiet room where they can get help, but keep up with school work. Teachers need to be relieved of this. No matter how you look at it, having to spend so much time catering to one disruptive child does take away from the other students and takes away from their education. Let the teachers teach for goodness sake. I don’t want to know all the details of That Child. I just want That Child to get the help they need. I just want my children and the other students to get the best education they deserve.

    • What about THAT child, though? Taking them away from society will not help them at all. There must be a balance between their special help and also learning to be a part of the collective community.
      Besides, so many kids have issues and the potential to be THAT child. You’d have to have a separate room for all of them if your plan was to be used. That doesn’t seem feasible.
      If you truly want your children to get the education they deserve, they need to learn to be around people who are different from them, people who may sometimes be difficult. That is life and that is a lesson they should learn early on.
      If you truly want the “other students” to get the education they deserve, then that demographic inherently includes THAT child, and THAT child will not get the education they deserve if they are perpetually separated from their classmates, denying them the opportunity to learn from others’ thoughts and behaviors. It also denies other children the opportunity to learn from THAT child, and there is a lot to be learned – like how NOT to behave, for instance, but they could also learn how to show THAT child compassion and acceptance, like you have failed to do.
      And though THAT child may sometimes require “special attention”, your child is most likely still getting all the attention they need. As was described in this blog, the special attention THAT child receives is split among many different providers, not just the teacher. The teacher is still able to do his or her job. You seem to think that a teacher giving one-on-one attention to a child robs the other children of their educational experience. Well, by that same token, if your child were to need extra help with something, then your child would be robbing the other children. Do you think that your child, then, should not receive that extra help? I am going to guess that you would not agree with this. One-on-one interaction has been proven to be beneficial to children’s education, and therefore, every child deserves for that interaction to be incorporated into their education, including THAT child. Sending THAT child off to another room to be isolated and “fixed” does not achieve this.
      You say that you “just want That Child to get the help they need”, but what you have said has shown a rather selfish view, caring more for your child’s education than anyone else’s
      I highly encourage to rethink your position.

      • Kiki says:

        I am sorry you see my view as selfish. I don’t see anything selfish in wanting to see a child get the help they need. I don’t see anything selfish in wanting to see all children, not just mine, be in a classroom environment that is not regularly disrupted by the repetitive poor behavior of one student. I don’t see anything selfish in wanting teachers to be able to get the support they need for children with chronic poor behavior so that they can have a healthy learning environment in their classrooms.

        In no way was I suggesting that That Child be permanently removed from the classroom. Perhaps I was not clear here. I am suggesting that That Child be removed long enough to get some help going so that that he/she can work their way back to class. It is for That Child’s benefit to know that, hey, if you act like this, if you tear the classroom up or hit a child or decide to run around loudly, then you can’t be in the classroom. It seems like common since to me. Instead of having the teacher try to teach him/ her this in the midst of teaching a class, have a counselor, school psychiatrist, behavior specialist work with the student. That is what they are there for.
        I have many friends who are teachers who do not get the support they need for That Child. They are very stressed and frustrated. They say it interferes with teaching. I have been in many classrooms where I see the same child acting up and disturbing the class. Months later, the same child is there, doing the same thing.
        Also, there are many differences to be shared and learned from in the classroom. A child that hits, runs around loudly, uses bad language, disrespects teachers and peers, does not sit still for more than 2 seconds, and/or throws things on a regular everyday basis has nothing to “teach”. This is too much. It is stressful for the other students. It is extreme. Children have plenty of other learning opportunities from their peers. Think how you would feel working with a dysfunctional coworker every day.
        I am pretty passionate about this because I love all children, despite their behaviors or backgrounds. I am compassionate about That Child. I know that his/her behavior didn’t just happen. I know there is probably a horrible history to go with it. I would like to see every teacher get the proper support they need so that That Child can get the help they need, so That Child can get back to the classroom and learn and prosper. Meanwhile, students can learn and teachers can teach in a healthy classroom environment.

        • JW says:

          It is absolutely the job of educators and carers to take multiple roles in order to support the children they look after. This means consistency for the child, that they maybe don’t get anywhere else (with the help of other specialists if necessary also…..definitely…but in their normal environment).

    • Charlotte says:

      In saying that you want the child to get the help they need, you are pretty much contradicting your own argument. I have had the chance to complete my degree in primary/elementary school teaching and also experience working in schools that are of low decile (based on the income of the parents and surrounding community) with a LOT of children that are labelled as THAT child.
      THAT child needs solidarity in their schooling lives as it is not present in home life; and inclusion in the classroom is the first step to solidarity. Yes, they may take up more of our time trying to manage their behavior, however, your child is also learning lifelong lessons through THAT child, through learning how they should manage and control their own behavior when faced with a trial, to learning how to have compassion and be a friend.
      Yes Teachers teach, yet they need to know the background story of each and every student they come across to be able to teach EFFECTIVELY. There is a lot more to teaching than just…well….teaching. When you have had the chance to experience this, you will see why EFFECTIVE teachers everywhere take on the responsibility of being the teacher, councilor, social worker etc. It is all for the benefit of your child and the children surrounding them.

      • Kiki says:

        First, I have had the chance to teach and experience many That Child’s. Second, why is it so wrong to say a child needs help? Why is it so wrong to want to temporarily remove a child from a classroom when they are chronically disruptive. Yes, That Child might need consistency in his/life, but at the expense of specialized attention? At the expense of a disruptive classroom environment for 15 – 20 other students? At the expense of overly stressed teachers? Third, why should teachers be asked to be the Behavioral Specialist, Social Worker, Psychiatrist in these extreme situations? That’s what the other professionals are there for. I am only talking about extreme situations here where the same student disrupts class everyday with things like throwing, hitting etc. Of course teachers can take on the other roles as needed. Occasional bad behavior, that’s expected. No kid is perfect. Stuff happens, kids have bad days from time to time. I am only addressing chronic behavior that is very disruptive.

        Think of how stressful it is for the other 15 – 20 students who have a fellow student who hits, throws things, yells, uses bad language, etc every day. How would you feel working in the same office with a coworker who is dysfunctional. Pretty stressful.

        I am not negating That Child. I have worked with and love many of them. There is nothing wrong with That Child being removed from the classroom temporarily, while getting specialized attention. A teacher is one person with a classroom full of students. That Child needs the extra help. Teachers should not be asked to do it all. It is ok to ask for help. It does not mean you do not have compassion for That Child. Quite the opposite. This way everyone benefits. That Child is not gone forever from class. He/she will be back. It might be gradual and take some time, but he/ she will be back much better prepared for the classroom.

    • Angela says:

      Every child has rights under FAPE (free and appropriate public education). This has come out of a time when children with disabilities (including behavior) were not allowed at school and many times were institutionalized. We have federal laws that govern how FAPE is interpreted and applied. Every public school DOES have a system set up to make sure that students get the help they need. Child Find is a federal program that helps identify children who may have disabilities or other issues affecting their performance at school. Students that exhibit behavior that impedes their access to instruction or the access of their peers to instruction may be evaluated for IEP’s or 504 plans. But there are specific procedures and rules that must be followed to ensure that the rights of the student to FAPE are upheld. As a special education teacher my view encompasses education for the entire school population and families.

    • TeacherAlways says:

      Respectfully, I submit, you missed the point. In a perfect world…and the world is not. Your children and others will get what they need by learning how compassion is used when dealing with THAT child.

    • Melissa says:

      I understand your feelings about teachers just should be allowed to teach. However, is not realistic of any of the adults who are involved in a child’s life to only focus on one part of their development. As adults we are key to a child’s development of many skills (academic, sports, arts, etc) but we are also their role models, mentors and advisers for inter and intra-personal skills. Think as students observe the struggles of another student what can be taught to all of them about good character including empathy, patience, listening skills, conflict resolution skills, perseverance and self modulation.

    • C Baker says:

      Except that “that child” also deserves an education.

      • Kiki says:

        Of course they do. I fully agree. I never said anything about taking away their education. First get the specialized help needed. Temporary, while still given instruction and classwork outside classroom. Gradually set them back in class as behavior improves. Won’t this improve their overall learning? If they know how to behave in class? I think people are misunderstanding. I am talking about extreme behavior problems that I have personally seen continue on in classrooms year after year…never fully addressed. I addressed much if how I feel in the above replies. That Child does deserve an education, but he/she also deserves the proper help so that they can take full advantage of their education. Time outside the classroom is not a crime. Children who need extra help with speech, learning English, spec ed needs all get outside help. Why not That Child get extra help with behavior? Even if they are removed fully from class for a while?

        • Meghan says:

          As a psychologist, I can say that what you may not realize is that, even with the “specialized help needed” (try as we might), some students with disabilities or psychiatric disorders will not magically “get better” and be able to re-enter a classroom setting free of behavior problems after being “removed fully from a class for a while.” If this were the case, this could potentially mean years of separation (believe it or not, youth with autism or ADHD or bipolar disorder don’t actually grow out of it…) and, quite frankly, discrimination. Your view is incredibly concerning — I suggest you read up on the history of the institutionalization and stigmatization of individuals with disabilities and mental illness, as well as the special education laws that were enacted to ensure that all students are afforded a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. I can only hope that Your Child learns greater compassion for those who struggle via his or her classroom than they do from you…

          • Concerned parent says:

            What do you do when a child is so disruptive and violent that all 27 kids in the class spend the whole day watching this child because they are afraid of what that child will do next. This happened in my child’s class. Kids were absent from school because they were afraid to go to school when that child was there. Their grades suffered. When does it come to a point that the rights of my child are being violated with having that child bully and torture my kid to the point that my child is afraid to go to school and when he is there doesn’t pay attention cause he needs to watch that child to help protect himself?

          • Kiki says:

            Really, you are dragging my child into this?? This is not at all about my child. My concern is with the system in general. You assumed I was a parent concerned about my child. I am an educator as well and am going with my experiences in classrooms.
            I believe I am gravely misunderstood here. What I am trying to say is that teachers need support for That Child from professionals already in the school and administration. I work in public schools and see the lack of support and the stress it puts on teachers and students. Never did I suggest institutionalizing or stigmatizing That Child. Are we discriminating against children who are in separate classrooms either all or part of the day for autism, speech, spec ed needs, or English Language Learners??? No, they are spending time away from class to get the extra help they need. And I will repeat what I repeated above many times…in no way am I suggesting permanent removal and exclusion from class. Why are we so afraid to say certain children DO need extra help with behavior, just like other students need extra help in other areas. Let’s get That Child started on the right path.

            BTW, of course kids with autism or ADHD don’t “grow out of it”. If That Child gets diagnosed with either of those along the way, then great, they can get the help they need. Whatever the cause for the behavior, they need help learning how to behave in the classroom. When you get down to it, it is not fair to anyone (teachers, other students, and esp. that Child) if he is in the classroom every day, disturbing class every day. The teacher is one person with a classroom full of students. Let’s be realistic about the help That Child is getting if a whole year goes by and That Child is still where they were on day 1, meanwhile creating an unhealthy learning environment for everyone else.
            Compassion, I have plenty of it for everyone concerned. Where is there a lack of it in anything I have said? Because I think a child might have to leave the classroom to get specialized help with a problem that is disturbing 20 other students? I know there are extra costs involved in helping children and diagnosing any potential issues such as autism or ADHD. That is why so much is left for the teacher to deal with. It really does need to change.

        • Behavioral issues fall under special education law, at least where I live. Children who need extra help in speech are pulled out of the mainstream classroom for part of the day. Children with behavioral issues may also be pulled out of the mainstream classroom for part of the day. Both sets of children spend much of their day in the mainstream classroom.

        • darkestangel says:

          My son is “that child” he has autism. If you put him in a separate room he will have more meltdowns because you are changing his routine. You are changing his environment. He has to have consistency, always. He would also see it as punishment. He has made friends at school, FINALLY, and you would be taking them away. I do understand your intentions but the theory is flawed because isolation is a punishment. Many agencies work with my son’s teachers . He has regular one to one sessions with one teacher and has made amazing progress. He is also teaching his peers about tolerance, acceptance, and compassion. If you want to help maybe campaign for all teachers to have training in disabilities etc
          As parents we dread every new school year because we don’t know if the new teacher has any knowledge or experience. Properly trained teachers would be marvellous, and I’m sure they’d be appreciative too.

        • Nicole says:

          As a parent of “that” child I feel I can help support your argument in a different way. Last year the week before school started we moved to get my son out of a school district that was non supporting and damaging to him. He naturally lashed out on me for a huge change in his life. He has ADHD, depression and was suicidal. While he was physically aggressive in school he never hit the kids, no he saved that for home I was his punching bag. He caused major disruptions in class and the kids were scared. As a single mom I was at my whit’s end. The school had every right to send him home everyday and did regularly, I was never able to be more than 10 min away from the school. Unable to find work things were falling apart at home and at school. The school and I sat down and decided Sam needed to earn back class time. We went to a stricter schedule of one hr a day if he stayed calm he earned rewards. After a week without issue he would go to school for 2 hrs this went on for months getting him lasting longer in school still not in the classroom full time. Now we have a point system 3 points morning and 3 points afternoon did he stay calm, do his work and stay on schedule. He sees a therapist in school and does group therapy during school hours. He has a IEP and checks in with a specialist 3 times a day. If he is having a hard time hr leaves the classroom before the fit begins. This has helped alot and he is no longer suicidal or abusive at home. If he had not been taken out of the classroom I don’t know what would have happened. By the way the entire time out of the classroom he stayed top of his class academically. I was blessed to move to a school that worked with us.

  237. Joni says:

    I am a teacher of many of (that child) and your message hit home as one I have now is a challenge but you do learn to love and have patient because you know they are all children of God who are special in their own way. Thanks for your insightful message to all. Love and peace is what brings happiness in all of our lives.

  238. Jane says:

    Thank you. From the bottom if my heart a parent and voter in Wisconsin thanks the teachers. You are appreciated.

  239. […] shared a link on facebook today about That Kid (original post here –  http://missnightmutters.com/2014/11/dear-parent-about-that-kid.html) that really got to me. I don’t talk about it a lot, but I have 3 children, all with […]

  240. Michael says:

    I fully understand the need for privacy and the fact that (in most jurisdictions) teachers can only talk to parents about those parents’ own child(ren). I fully understand and support the care and compassion (most/good) teachers provide for “that” child. I fully understand that public schools are, indeed, public–there for all children and families in the community, regardless of life circumstances. I fully understand that these same public schools are often severely under-resourced, especially in terms of providing support for and “dealing with” children with behavioral “issues”. But all that said, when one child is having a significant impact on the school experience of not just my child but perhaps dozens of other children, there may come a time when the “ordinary” needs of the many outweigh the “extraordinary” needs of the few. It’s a classic situation of an incredibly difficult conflict between “collective rights” and “individual rights”.

    When 15, 20, or more children live in daily fear that they may find themselves on the receiving end of (or even simple witness to) a sudden and totally unexpected episode of verbal or physical violence for no apparent reason, it creates an unacceptable environment. It is an environment perhaps similar to and just as unacceptable as the sorts of things “that” child may be experiencing or witnessing in his/her home life, given as one possible “cause” of “that” child’s behavior. Even if there are “apparent reasons” or “triggers”, those 15, 20, or more children must all modify their conduct to avoid those things and be constantly hyper-vigilant and/or self-monitoring, unable to ever fully relax and simply be themselves.

    The classroom/school becomes an environment of tension, apprehension, and even outright fear–an environment in which those 15, 20, or more children experience constant/daily anxiety, stress, and/or fear. It creates an environment in which everyone is constantly on the lookout or walking on eggshells–and some/many students may end up taking that to their own homes or other environments/experiences outside the classroom. They may even develop their own behavioral “issues”. It certainly does not create a relaxed, comfortable environment where everyone feels safe, secure, and optimally able to communicate and learn.

    Yes, there may indeed be innumerable “reasons” and life circumstances to “explain” or “understand” “that” child’s behavior. They may be a “victim” of many things. Yes, “those” children (and their parents) may well need, deserve, and have a right to extraordinary compassion, support, nurturing, and love–and kudos to those who do their utmost to provide those things. But none of that “justifies” an environment in which many other children themselves become “victims”, experiencing undue and unnecessary stress, anxiety, fear, and even direct harm (physical or otherwise) in an environment which is, after all, supposed to be just as compassionate, supportive, nurturing, and loving for them, too. They (and their parents) also have individual and collective rights.

    I know full well that it is an extraordinarily difficult situation for all concerned, but there must come a point at which the needs of–as I said–not just MY child, but perhaps dozens of children must take precedence, and “appropriate measures” (whatever they may be) are required. I don’t envy the teachers, resource professionals, and administrators who have to confront such difficult decisions, but difficult decisions sometimes must be made–and communicated.

    If the law and/or professional ethics absolutely prohibit any communication under all circumstances, then I would suggest, apropos of Oliver Twist (itself about social issues involving children), that the law/ethics are an ass and in need of modification in order to bring collective (safety and security) rights into better balance with individual (privacy) rights. “School” is a community, and communal rights are as legitimate and important as individual rights.

    • zanzan42 says:

      Thank you, Michael. I came here to post something similar, but you said it better.

      I know you can’t talk about anything. That’s fine. I know there are likely reasons for the behavior. That’s fine. I know that there are various things being tried behind the scenes to deal with the behavior. That’s fine.

      Those things aren’t working. The behavior persists, and impacts the other kids. That’s *not* fine.

      In the real world, results matter. Fix it, or get that disruptive kid out of class.

    • Alycia Woolsey says:

      I’m a mother of THAT child. She has her reasons and I wish more than anything her teacher would see her as this article suggests but instead she’s mean and continues to alienate my daughter. This collective good theory is a very slippery slope in the classroom. My fir throwing daughter can be put in the hall requiring no extra resources during one of these costing nothing to the school than a frustrated aide, but lets start applying that collective need to everything. Your daughter is a slow reader. Slowest in the class. Why should they review the lessons from yesterday for her when the rest of the class is pretty caught up. Why hold everyone back a lesson? To give her the individual attention she needs costs the school more than a frustrated aide. Reviewing the concept in class holds back every child in there that gets it. So lets throw her out into the hall and not let her inhibit the learning environment of the others. Her individual rights are not as strong as those of the collective. My difficult kid who struggles with being unable to talk, yet is very smart and has lived in (due to no reason I could control) 8 houses in her 4.5 years. She struggles to understand a lot around her due to her serious communication delays and unfortunately she’s got a pretty chaotic world. Hiring someone to meet the individual needs of my kid isn’t in a public school budget, but her individual rights are JUST AS important as the collective or any child’s rights in there. It is not a “difficult decision” to write her off and dismiss her. It’s a cruel one.

  241. JMR says:

    WOW! Some of those characteristics so describe my son. I so pray that his teachers will have the compassion that is described here. I have one son with Aspergers and one that I fear has mild RADS. Truly it is hard for those who don’t walk a day in my shoes to understand how easy and hard it can be. I am so blessed to have my two boys, and I know God has blessed them with me. I found my older son the services he needed and he is now thriving. I however find finding support for students with RADS far more difficult. May those of you parents who see our kids having meltdowns know that it is not a reflection on bad parenting, a naughty kids, but rather a child whose sensory system is on overload. I even learned that when my son gets anxious (such as during a music performance on stage) he will misbehave.

    I am a teacher myself, and I can usually identify kids on a playground that are struggling with the same concerns my two boys are. I also find myself drawn to those kids.

    I want to thank you for this well written post, and I pray that some teachers out there have the opportunity to read this or one like it.

  242. TJ says:

    Thank you. I’m a teacher and a parent, and this brought tears to my eyes. Don’t ever stop doing what you’re doing.

  243. Nicole says:

    And I will tell you that YOUR child demonstrates and/or has learned COMPASSION for THAT child because we are a community that cares for each other in OUR classroom/school!!

  244. Clarinette says:

    Beautiful piece, what you are writing here and the struggle of many teachers show the need for more guidance on empathy and compassion. All the hopes are in the next generarions. Here are my thoughts. Good luck ! https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141115151647-19096867-teaching-the-skills-for-life-compassion-and-empathy

  245. james zipadelli says:

    Your post made me think of my dad who is an exceptional math teacher. Thank you.

  246. kate says:

    Thank you. From a teacher and a mom, thank you.

  247. Melissa says:

    As someone who has done preschool and daycare for many years, I can certainly relate. I have seen some very sad and heart retching stories, and felt compassion for THAT child. I also have had to give myself a “time out” to regain my patience and composure to get through the rest of the day. Even now, almost 20 years later, I still think about THAT child often and pray they grew up to be a decent and respectful adult…but my heart still hurts for their childhood. I wonder and hope that maybe just a little I did something to help THAT child.

  248. Anne Novotny says:

    I raised THAT child. Adopted at him at 14. Without his teachers and countless others I am not sure where we would be today. What I do know is that today my son is just one short month away from college graduation. He is going to be a social worker. To quote him, “I get kids like me.” Thanks, love and unending prayers for all who helped my son to be who he is today. Teachers, I admire, love and thank you!!!

    • Leslei says:

      From a social worker, welcome to the small amount of humans who have the empathy and respect for everyone. You are going to be great in the field!

  249. Turner says:

    That’s lovely. Except MY child (a 3rd grader) got his two front permanent teeth knocked out by THAT child (a Kindergartener) and the parents of THAT child DONT care. They dismiss it as “boys will be boys” and oh well, my son probably deserved it (um no). If the parents really cared and we’re really concerned in the first place, they would have taught him to deal with his anger in the first place. Or gotten him the help he needs BEFORE injuring other children.

    • Mom747 says:

      This is a real problem. This is not judging TK or their parents. There are many stories like this and I see school districts being sued at some point. School should be safe. This should be the equal right for every child.

    • sarah says:

      The hope for the child whose parents don’t care lies within the rest of us.

      How terribly sad and inadequate.

      How frightening.

      I don’t know how I would react if i got a call saying my child was injured in that way at the hands of another child. It would be… there are no words. Would even be able to see the tragedy through the more immediate crisis?

  250. Jaime says:

    I wish i could take this to my child’s teacher because he is “that child” but after turning down her idea/proposal of sharing his his special needs with the class so “the others” will understand…i think she may take offense to it.

    • Missy K says:

      Jamie, it’s amazing how empathetic and accepting children can be ONCE they understand the reason behind behaviors they don’t get. They often see things as “matter of fact” once they are trusted to understand. Everyone, special needs or not, has “their thing” that’s easy for them, and “their thing” that’s a challenge. For some it’s math, for others it’s running fast. Some kids are great at spelling, and others have a really hard time singing on key. Some kids wear glasses because their eyes need help seeing clearly. Some use a wheelchair because their legs don’t work the way they should. Some kids’ brains are good thinkers, but the part that filters how they act when they get frustrated doesn’t work the way it should…so when she feels sad, mad, or frustrated like WE ALL do, she can’t control the way she reacts like we can. She’s working on it, but that’s her “challenging thing”. She feels bad after it happens, and wishes it didn’t. What’s your challenging thing? What’s your easy thing? Did you notice how great she can draw pictures of dogs? That’s one of her easy things!

      Good luck with your son. Let people in, we WANT to be there for you and your son. If the other kids don’t react the way you hope for them to, keep communication open with school. This is a process, and you are a team! You’ve got this!

      • nikonmom says:

        I remember a classmate back in school with a disability that was not obvious to us kids who didn’t know about it. The teachers did a beautiful job of explaining it. Knowing he wasn’t just a bad kid, or a brat, helped us know how to respond. They never used it to excuse away his behavior, but it gave us the tools to understand and in turn show empathy. He ended up being quite popular, despite his occasional outbursts. I am so grateful for the lessons we learned then. The teachers handled it gracefully, retaining his dignity. We had MORE respect after we understood. Just something to consider. If you trust your teacher, trust them to handle it well.

  251. Angel says:

    My child was a victim of THAT vicious child repeatedly. Regardless of the reason/cause of the attacks this violence had to stop for the safety of the other children. Police had to get involved, and due to the age of THAT child (under 12) the parents were held accountable by law (not the teacher). Please report all assaults to your local school resource officer who handle these cases (I dont expect teachers to do the job of law enforcement). It was discovered through investigation reporting that THAT child was abusing not only school children but preying on younger children in the neighborhood (riding them over on his bike and beating them in the face at parks). It was beyond “anti-bullying” tactics and teaching kids about bullies, it was assault and battery. It was about providing THAT child and their family (who did not know it was occurring) a trained social worker to work with that family so THAT child does not end up in jail one day or go on a rampage at school with a gun because no one helped him figure out social norms and consequences of his actions. This article makes THAT vicious child seem like a victim when they are the creating victims. Yes, do not ignore assault, help THAT child by reporting your own child’s injuries to authority to get THAT child and family social services assists assistance. There is NO excuse for abuse, not for women of abuse and not for children of abuse. Make it stop, teachers, don’t tell parents you are sworn to secrecy to protect THAT child, report it to police.

    • Miss Night says:

      Hi Angel
      I do want to clarify: In no way am I saying that I ignore THAT child’s behaviour or challenges. If THAT child is abusive to the degree you describe, I am working tirelessly behind the scenes, to get help and resources for THAT child as well as the other children in my class. That said, I absolutely CANNOT discuss this with any other parent. I would also argue that, in some sense, a child who is this aggressive is ALSO a victim; we just may not know of WHAT.

  252. Katharina says:

    I WAS That Child – and now, two University degrees later (and going back for a third), I can say clearly, the fact I got as far as I did today is singlehandedly down to my brilliant and kind teachers who let me be me but showed me the way. Who set out boundaries and understanding and gave me places to escape to. I take my hat off to educators I really do – we are not easy, but we love you. As adults we remember you and look back with love. Because sometimes, you’re the most stable relationship we have in the world. Thank you xox

  253. MamaSarah says:

    My children are not today “that child”, but we have seem them in our classrooms. We are teaching our children that our job is to help these children to learn to play/get along/etc., not to make things harder for them.
    We have 3.75 kids 5 and under (one due in a few months), so only one is in school, but we have had that teacher. She and the principal worked amazingly with “that child” and everyone, without exception, benefited.

    Thank you for recognizing what these kids truly need, and how to help everyone involved.

  254. poulingail says:

    Powerful piece that I am sharing with my admins.

  255. I want to start by thanking the writer for this beautifully wrtten article. I am a mother of twin 20 year old girls, a step daughter who is onlu 4 days older than the twims, and a son who just turned 18, and is in his senior year of high school. While all of my girls are “normal” (and I hate using that term), my son has severe Asperges along with dyslexia, just to make it a little more interesting. I have dealt with both sides of this issue in the public school system. I have been the mom that is concerned that her girls are not getting the best possible education because of teachers needing to be more involved with the special needs children, and feeling like that isn’t fair or in my girls’ best interest. I have also been, and still am, the mom that has had to fight for my son to get the education that he deserves, while his “behavior issues” are being dealt with in the best way for him and also in the best way to keep the other kids in the class safe. What I have found in the public school system is that most of the kids like mu son, who are able to learn at the same, and sometimes higher level than the other normal kids, are put into special ed classrooms, for the safety reasons, but then they dont learn the same materials they would learn in the regular education classrooms. This sells these kids short, because with many mental illnesses, tjese kids are actually very intelligent, once you get through and figure out how they learn. I think that if the public school system would have a class where there was the safe guards in place and the extra attention, lile a special education classroom but still taught the same thing as the regular education class, that would solve a lot of the problems on noth sides. Because my son wasn’t learning in the special ed class and the school wouldn’t allow him in the regular ed class, we removed him from the typical brick and mortar public school, in 7th grade, and enrolled him in an online charter school. It is completely free because it is considered a public school, but he is able to learn everything his sisters learned, and if he is having a bad day, or gets upset about something, he can stop working amd come back to it later. Also, because he isn’t being made fun of, and struggling so much because of the social conflicts, he is happier and more confident than I was ever willing to hope for. And he is set to graduate with the same diploma all three of his sisters have, and on times too! I will say that during elementary school, he did have a couple of teachers like the one that wrots this article, and they did , make those some of the best years in primary school. But, unfortunately, they seem to be the exception, not the norm. Good luck to all of you parents, whether you have a”that” kid or a “normal” kid.

  256. […] Dear Parent: I know. You're worried. Every day, your child comes home with a story about THAT kid. The one who is always hitting shoving pinching scratching maybe even biting other children. The on…  […]

  257. You, Teacher, are the best kind. I know THAT child, and I know it breaks my heart with worry every year as THAT child enters a new classroom fearing the new Teacher won’t be as kind, as understanding, or as caring and compassionate as the last. I know as a parent I fear it too, because without a Teacher just like you, THAT child wouldn’t stand a chance, wouldn’t be able to learn as much as he/she has, wouldn’t be comfortable and, despite being THAT child, happy in school. Thank you, for being THAT kind of teacher!
    Blessed be the children, and the teachers like you who give so much of themselves every single day.

  258. […] First: this post about “that kid” from the teacher’s perspective. Lots of hugs: http://missnightmutters.com/2014/11/dear-parent-about-that-kid.html […]

  259. Brenda says:

    Bravo and thank you! My children are grown but had friends that were that child. One daughter’s class was labeled “THAT” class because of all the stories that couldn’t be told. The teachers for 12 years dreaded the year they would have to teach that class. Today, my job is to help the “adult that child” clients determine why they can’t keep a job. With each new story i hear about the struggles which have led them to the current life, I think I have heard it all. And then the next new client arrives. Just today a 21 year old told me she doesn’t know why she has manic highs and downer lows but she remembers her mom selling her for sex for drug money. If these adults would have had teachers and daycare providers at a young age who understood, like you have just explained, there might be fewer “adult THAT child”. Thank you for your services to these young people.

  260. Sandra says:

    My son was THAT child. My permanent care son’s Year 10 English teacher left a voicemail for me yesterday. After fielding many calls from his schools over the past 10 years (he has been suspended from 4 schools in 3 states!) I was thrilled to hear the teacher say she just wanted to let me know how well he was doing in English (a subject he failed every year until this year), what a lovely young man he was and that I should be proud of him. I am very proud of him. At 7 years his psychiatrist and paediatrician were concerned he might end up in the juvenile justice system. At 15 years he is finishing year 10, about to embark on the final two years of secondary school and he truly is a lovely young man 🙂

  261. Robert says:

    Very well written I used to be that kid once upon a time many moons ago I now have my own kids and I’m sure there time is coming soon keep up the great work

  262. Mike says:

    I did not find this boring, long winded, nor intimidating as a grandparent. What I did find was a smart, savvy, responsible and loving person who everyday see only GOOD in kids. If we all try to understand the words you wrote and their honest and true meaning, we all can take away from this that no child intentionally wants to be non other than liked, loved, and kind with everyone they come into contact with.

    If we all take the words of that very smart teacher the world would be a better place.

    Let me know if you ever runs for President. You have my vote!!!!

  263. Saamia Khan says:

    I can hope to have more wonderful teachers like u!
    Beautiful script! X

  264. Mariah says:

    I am sitting in front of my computer right now with tears in my eyes because of this. I teach preschool, and this hit home on *so* many levels. Thank you so much.

  265. bettyann53 says:

    Thank you and to all teachers. I’ve had foster children that was “that kid”. Thank God for good teachers. Most of mine were in special education classes. Many very good teachers. Some ok teachers. God bless all of you. You have a difficult but rewarding job. Thanks so much. Your statement made me cry. I’m so glad your kids have you.

  266. GULAM KHANK says:

    I know someone just like’that child’ and use love and patience to bring her to her inner repress quality out.

  267. lena says:

    Beautifully written, Mme. A. My kindergarten daughter was thrilled to see the happy face sticker you put on her report card today 🙂

  268. Carolyn says:

    I am a high school teacher and I have had that child. All this advice still works for the adolescence. I love the older kids and I have learned how to have compassion on a higher level. It is harder as one has to earn their trust, but it is totally worth it. Hugs to all my fellow teachers.

  269. thank you for all you do as a teacher. I used to be a teacher, but I am now a stay at home mom due to 2 kids with various special needs. My oldest fits into that kid category and it is hard to think how other parents and kids view my son. Whenever I try to say something to another parent, they say oh he’s doing so good. I guess it’s just the fear we all have.

  270. saraborgs says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for caring teachers everywhere!

  271. Ms Thomas says:

    Thank you so much for giving me the words to address this with staff and parents. I am a special education teacher that works with “those” students in a self contained classroom for behavior. Thank you. Thank you. You have given me a voice too. And hope.

  272. Starla says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I work in a school setting and this was a good reminder for me.

    • Jena says:

      Tears flood my eyes because my child is “that” child. We had another rough week with my son and in the process of getting a behavioral specialist involved. This couldn’t be more timely. Thankfully, I have a fabulous teacher for my son who fits this description. Thank you so much for warming my heart tonight and wanting to squeeze my teacher a little tighter.

  273. Mary says:

    Please know that you make a profound difference …. for THAT child and for all the children you interact with. Thank you.

  274. Jim says:

    Teacher by your concern I assume you are a woman so I say ATTA BOY GIRL.

  275. […] Dear Parent: I know. You're worried. Every day, your child comes home with a story about THAT kid. The one who is always hitting shoving pinching scratching maybe even biting other children. The on…  […]

  276. Amy says:

    Wonderfully well written. I am a teacher myself, and have had some of “those” kids before, and have a couple now. What “those” kids need is love and understanding, and it is clear that this is one thing you offer them, as do I. I also pray for them daily. “Those” kids can become great kids, they just need a teacher willing to see their potential and help them achieve it. (I can also picture one of my little guys saying that quote about hearing your heart. They can be the sweetest kids if they have a teacher who truly cares for them.)

  277. Nancy Daley says:

    Amazing article i do have that child and cried while reading this because anyone who has that child k.ows how hard it is and how hard we have to work at it. And this gives others who dont have that kid why that kid might be acting that way

  278. Amie Keske says:

    Amen my teacher friend!!!

  279. Thank you because “that child” is mine.

  280. Debbie says:

    This post was amazingly well written and a testimony to the wonder and talent it takes to be a teacher. Thank you

  281. Tarri Klecha says:

    My son is That Child. He has Asperger’s Syndrome. It is the teachers like you who have made all the difference.

  282. Iris says:

    This made me cry. Thank you for the love you so clearly have for the children who are facing special challenges, and also for those who aren’t. I wish all teachers had your compassion, your courage, and your kindness.

  283. Shannon says:

    This is a great read. As a parent of a special needs son (ADHD, learning disabilities) I cringe everyday for him. Kids can be cruel and I can only hope they don’t treat him as “that child”. With that said so can parents/teachers. They want them out if their classrooms. No distractions. My sons school has a separate class for “special needs” students. He goes to this class throughout the day so he won’t disrupt the main stream class. When he returns the students stare or make snarky comments because he goes to this class. So when I see a parent make comments about “that” child it tends to rattle me. Walk in our shoes, see what us as parents struggle with daily. It’s no fun when your child is the only one left out from being invited to birthday parties. I stay close by my son on outings just because of “that” parent. All we ask is for you to please put yourself and child in our shoes.

    • Melissa says:

      Yes. I totally agree. My now grown son has a slew of ‘Alphabet Soup’ diagnoses. He was never violent but he was shunned by teachers, other students and ESPECIALLY other parents because they couldn’t be bothered with compassion. I still have a ton of resentment regarding this, as I was doing everything humanly possible to help him!

  284. Heather Gerheim - Gladden says:

    This is so beautiful and it was shared with me exactly when I needed it most as a teacher and a parent! It made me cry in a good way!

  285. reitard says:

    Very beautiful, I love the letter very much 🙂

  286. SUE says:


  287. LF says:

    So well written; thank you. I am a middle school teacher but the problems do not always go away because the child is a little older. It is heartbreaking to have this happen at any age. We need to remind people that we are their caregivers, too.

    • marite cruz says:

      this is an amzingly well-written letter. wish it would go viral! it is also a very sad reminder that we still have aduts (Eeeeek other parents!!!) that need to be told such things, because they DARE to ask….that need to be rememded that, but for the grace of God, “THAT” child, (it should be a polically UNcorrect term!) who is probably going through some kind of hell at home or in his brain or body, could very well be there own!!) at least this tells them, so they can CORRECT what they tell their own children about “THAT” child, and how to treat THAT child when they go back to school …. with LOVE, instead of hate, judgment and irrational phobia!!!

      • Julia says:

        I think it will go viral…I’m doing my part to help it happen. Every one of us, in one way or another, or at one time or another, WERE “that” child, or loved “that” child and cried heartbroken tears that came from feeling hopeless, misunderstood and unwanted. We survived through the compassion of friends who saw with the clarity of a professional, and professionals who cared with the heart of a friend.

        • Miss Night says:

          Thank you so much, girls. I am delighted to share that, will the help of SO MANY, it has, indeed, gone viral. 1.3 million views and counting. It has been picked up by the Washington Post, and several other sites. Stay tuned for more, and thank you so much for helping to put a little more compassion into the world.

  288. cheri says:

    I am so thankful for teachers like you, who love their students and focus on every student’s needs. We need more of you. I think maybe you misjudge the motives of some parents who ask about the goings on in your classroom. I have had cause to bring concerns about classroom behavior to a teacher’s attention in the past. However, I was not fishing for information about “That Kid’s” past or present home life. I was interested in YOUR behavior in the classroom. I needed to know that my child, the “other kid”, was being protected from “That Kid”‘s outbursts, tantrums and sometimes abusive behavior. I needed to know if the behavior problems in the classroom were detrimental to the learning of my child. That is a fair question. Every child deserves to feel safe at school. Every child deserves to be allowed to learn. So while I insisted my child be compassionate and kind to “That Kid”, I made sure there was a plan in place to ensure my child’s safety and education. That is all I needed to know.

  289. Billiejo says:

    Amazing! ! I’m a teacher and the mother of “That” kid. This is so well written I’m sending it to my son’s teachers. Thank you!

  290. I am still wiping my eyes because I know about “those” children and I thank God for teachers like this one.

  291. Tanya Benoit says:

    Scout leader and dayhome provider… This spoke to me and I cried. Thank you for writing this.

  292. josh sanders says:

    I am not a teacher, but i am a father on one beautiful little girl. She raises the bar every day trying her best to learn litterally EVERYTHING she can.
    As a parent, yes, i do worry about my child (not that i need to) ; more so because I cant help it. 🙂
    Worried that she will not make that next 100, or she wont get a sticker on that days send home sheet. I even worry that she wont get along with her friends that day because she will tell me all about it and i will have to explain that maybe little Jenny was having a bad day or Carter doesnt hate her but that boys are weird about showing their feelings.
    Like you though teacher, dont feel that you are worrying alone. Some parents worry with you, but we dknt have all of the details that you are privy to. We worry that Gavin doesnt have a warm coat in this cold wind or that Talitha makes her letters backwards as well. Sometimes we try to help but get cold stares or feel like we actually made things worse.
    So if, as a teacher, you need help or those things you worry about take their toll. Please remember that we know you cant tell us specifics, but we can be a shoulder for you to cry on or an ear you can bend. We dont mind because you are the one that is helping to raise our children. You are the one that they come to when they dont understand the new math problem, clean their cuts and kiss their boo boos when they get hurt, and you are the one that tucks them in during quiet time.
    If we can, we will help keep you on point so that to our kids eyes; you have all the answers. So, dont be afraid to reach our to us. Not all of us are your enemy, we want you to prevail over all the hurtles that you face.
    It takes a village remember. Some parents forget or dont know that concept, but some do. Let us help too. Everyone wins in that world. 🙂

    • M says:

      Couldn’t have said it better.

    • Tori says:

      I feel the same way. I have made a commitment to my son’s teacher that I will be there at least once a week to help out in the classroom. She has more than one “that kid” and I know that it can be very stressful for the teacher, and at times heartbreaking, to see a child, who can be so sweet and caring when s/he’s having his/her good moments and/or days, get put down and being misunderstood by others, who don’t even know him/her.

  293. Pam says:

    Thank you for posting this!!! My son is “that child”…with combined ADHD/ADD, OCD, severe anxiety, and panic attacks, my son often will feel like he is being attacked, especially by authority. So yes, my son will yell, scream, and pull a tantrum and he is 11. What really bothers me the most is that our school system went through major changes from last year to this year, thank God his principal stayed the same. This has really impacted my son in a major way, he does not accept change well or at all. I love these “Guidance Counselors” that are 23 years old and think because they have some college degree, that they know my son better than my husband and I. It happened again this morning, my son had morning detention, and as he was walking into the school with my husband, he saw his teacher drive into the parking lot. When they arrived into the school, he was told by the Guidance Counselor to go straight to his classroom and that his teacher is waiting for him, my son then looked at my husband and said daddy I’m confused she isn’t in the classroom in return this “Counselor” looked at my son and said “I think I told you to go straight to your class she is waiting for you” when my son tried to stand up for himself she again was very rude to him. My husband did not want to make our son’s day anymore difficult than it already is, so my husband let it go. Thank goodness, my son has an incredible principal, who also has ADHD and can relate to my son and his frustration at times, and thank goodness for the teaching staff that has taken our son under their wing so he can and will have a successful year. But, I do not feel that a 23 year old young women should feel she knows how to control my son better than my husband and I. I have a daughter her age and this isn’t my first time in dealing with a school system, granted my daughter is the complete opposite of my son, but this isn’t my first rodeo and I don’t know if she thinks she is trying to intimidate my son or even us. But, I can promise one thing to my son – she will not be treating him like a 3rd class citizen because he does need special help, he is dyslexic, and he does need to be redirected several times a day and my phone doesn’t need to ring because he sneezed in the middle of test and disrupted the class (yes, that did happen!!). I just cannot understand why she can’t see he is a little boy trying the best that he can to be as successful as himself and everyone who cares about him wants him to be. I’m sorry for going on and on about this but, I just needed to vent. Thank you

  294. LostInTheShuffle says:

    I am not “that” kid’s mom. I understand all of what you wrote, and can sympathize with it. But here’s the thing, I’m the parent of the child being affected by “that” kid’s needs and behavior in the classroom. As hard as it is for “that” kid and their family, it is just as excruciating for the rest of us, only no one listens to our voice.

    I have to explain everyday, why another child disrupts a classroom, so that everyone’s learning is compromised.

    I have to supplement my child’s education at home, because there isn’t enough learning happening in the classroom for my child’s needs.

    I’m the one that has to try to offer reasons why these kids behave the way to do, so my child can make sense of it all, and hopefully, not turn into a complete cynic.

    I’m the one that has to explain how to work on group projects with a child that can’t or won’t cooperate, or do their fair share, because the teacher is busy.

    I get to explain everyday to my child, why another child would say or do, mean and hurtful things to them daily.

    I’m the one wiping tears away from my child’s face when they come home, each time another child is disruptive or hurtful at school.

    I’m the one that has to explain to my children that the teacher doesn’t hate them, because they spend more of their time dealing with “that” child.

    I’m the one that has to convince them to go to school everyday, even when every fiber of their being is telling them “Please don’t make me go, so I don’t have to deal with the classroom situation.”

    I’m the one that has been to the school to advocate for my child’s right to a safe, positive, educationally appropriate school environment, only to be told that the other child’s rights are more important. I get told that my child will be fine, because they don’t have any special needs.

    I’m the one trying to explain daily to my kids why they should still do the right thing, no matter what the circumstance, knowing that they very well may suffer for doing it.

    What have my children learned from their experience in school? They have learned that kids can be incredibly cruel, and no one will do anything about it. They have learned that they don’t matter to the teacher, or the school. They have learned that doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily have any value. They have learned to shut themselves off emotionally from the world, so that they don’t have to constantly suffer the barrage of painful experiences that have overtaken school today. These are unintended lessons that they will take with them for the rest of their lives. These are the things I have to deal with daily, hoping that my children will emerge unscathed from their school experience, but knowing in my heart that is impossible.

    This is the effect “that” kid has on the world around them. Everyone is focused on them. They get the teacher’s time and the school’s resources. Those that don’t have special needs, behavioral issues, and the like, just get lost in the shuffle. They are expected to make do with the small amount of attention, if any, paid to them in the school system. They are expected to continue to behave. They are expected to suffer in silence. They are expected to be role models for other students. They are expected to be satisfied with a learning experience that is designed for “that” kid, not them. They are expected to hold up attendance numbers, and give the district great test scores. That is a lot to ask of our kids, especially when you know as a parent that they have little, if any, support from teachers, schools, and districts.

    I have learned that current educational practice hurts children like mine. I have learned that teachers are being asked to do things that should be outside the scope of a regular classroom. I have learned that teachers are expected to provide love and lessons that should be the sole responsibility of the family. I have learned that for every district dollar that is spent on my child, other children are receiving remarkably more, and it shows in the classroom. I have learned that my children have no rights when they walk through the school door. I have learned that my kids don’t matter to the world around them, only to their family. I have learned that we are expected to embrace “that” kid with open arms, while my child gets left alone. I have learned that schools are picking winners and losers, and my kids lost.

    We have a voice, even if no one is listening.

    • While I can understand how you feel…. you have it EASY. As a mom of a child with ADHD be grateful your child is not THAT child. Every child is learning and growing at their own pace and should we not teach children to be compassionate and be able to be empathetic to all sorts of personalities? Even though my child is highly distracted and hyper he is loved by his classmates and very popular. But he deals with all the stress and problems that ‘normal’ kids don’t have to deal with.

      Even with all his differences we still have to have talks about his other classmates that are dealing with hitting and aggression and anger. It is an opportunity to teach love and understanding. There is more than academics that is being learned in school….

      Every school is different. Some good, and some really bad. I am grateful to have my child in a school where teachers and administrators care!

    • Dona S says:

      I’m a bit confused by your comment. Some of the things you don’t like explaining every day are the very things that you later say “should be the sole responsibility of the family.” As our communities grow to include very different people in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors, languages, customs and beliefs, we have to learn to avoid, cope with, honor, respect, celebrate and even incorporate some new and different ways of doing things… all of us, even our children. I’d agree that it should happen within the family – but these things must be reinforced at school as well.

      Yes, your child has every right to learn at his or her capacity. Yes, they absolutely should have their learning needs met. I am curious about whether you spend time helping do something constructive about these concerns at your children’s school or spending time complaining to strangers on the internet.

      A 40+ year veteran special education teacher & public school administrator

      • LostInTheShuffle says:

        To NE14snow … I don’t know if any of it is easy. Raising children is hard all the way around. We recently moved, and have had our share of heartache over the past year. There are children in their new school who are so disruptive in class, that my kids don’t want to go. If that wasn’t bad enough, the kids that aren’t disruptive have bullied them, verbally abused them, taken their property, hit them, and excluded them … easy? No. All this because they are new at school. It broke my heart everyday last year, to see my kids treated so poorly by other kids. I still told my children to be nice, treat everyone with respect, and be strong, despite how they were being treated. Even when these items were brought to the school’s or district’s attention, we were told there is little that they can do. Yes, compassion would be nice, but it needs to be for everyone, not just those with IEPs. Be glad that you are in a school that cares.

        • Mr. S, a 6th grade teacher with plenty of "those" wonderful children. says:

          I can understand where your comments are coming from, but I urge you to expand you point of view to just beyond your very close realm of understanding. It seems you’ve mistaken someone having accommodations to compensate for incredibly difficult challenges with being given more rights than others. Because another child has some sort of difficulty (emotional, mental or physical) doesn’t mean they are getting “more” than others, and especially not at the cost of most other students. Heaven forbid you child would ever need an IEP or 504; I would hope that other parents would not point fingers at your child while complaining “unfair!” to teachers, school administrators, or the internet.
          Everything you you described, having to explain bad things to your child, aw shucks, that just sounds like parenting. I’m sorry the school environment can be hard at times for your children. We’d all like things to be perfect and kind and sweet and wonderful. They aren’t. As hard as some days are for your kids, take comfort in the fact that they get to go home to someone who can explain those difficult and often confusing things to them. There isn’t someone at home who will beat, berate, neglect or walk out on them. They don’t have to watch you abuse a substance or perform an act of violence on their other parent.
          Using this beautiful piece to complain (whine actually) from the counterpoint of who this article is directly addressing is in incredibly bad taste. I hope the cringe-worthy irony you’ve brought upon yourself hasn’t escaped you.

          • Julie says:

            I think you have missed the point of this complaint. My daughter had that kid last year. The needs of one very needy child can’t and shouldn’t always overwhelm the needs of every other child. My daughters entire class is delayed almost a full year in reading, writing and basic math do to the disruptions of that kid. Children were routinely be physically and mentally injured. My daughter burst into tears this year when she saw he was still in the school. He is thankfully not in the same class. I seriously considered pulling her from school last year it got so bad. All children are supposed to have certain basic rights in the classroom. The right to be safe. The right to an education. These rights are supposed to apply to all children, not just that kid.
            I want that kid supported. I was all for him getting his own dedicated EA but if the classroom cannot be made safe and conducive to learning, mainstreaming is unfair. Children other than that kid should have rights too.

      • LostInTheShuffle says:

        To Dona S: I have tried often to work with this school and district, I have spoken with the counselor, teachers, principal and district personnel. Both my kids and I have explained the issues we have experienced to the school, made suggestions, and offered ideas for helping all kids, but little has changed. They have honestly told me there is little they can do about it, (that even came from the district.) It is very clear that not every child has the same rights at school. I have done a tremendous amount of research, in order to personally help my kids, and hopefully end the heartache. I work with my kids to bolster their social skills. I wish I could say that our experience was unique or different, but I have met plenty of others whose experience is similar. Many feel their hands are tied, and schools are just spread too thin to help … worse yet, we are in an “excellent” school, not a school that doesn’t meet AYP. What else am I supposed to do?

        When I mentioned the responsibility of the family, I was speaking with respect that teachers are providing more and more services that are not academically related. Teachers are increasingly expected to be the provider of the personal lessons that kids may lack. Teachers shouldn’t have to consistently be social workers, or substitute parents. Teachers already have plenty to take care of on a daily basis. Teachers are also expected to cater to increasingly disparate abilities within a single classroom, which makes their job even tougher. I am all for reinforcing positive behaviors, and compassion at school, but teachers are being asked to do too much, too often … so much so, that learning in many classrooms is severely compromised. I don’t mind discussing issues with my kids either, but I do mind the daily frequency in which these conversations are needing to occur, and the pain that my kids are going through everyday at school. I shouldn’t have to daily explain the bad behavior of other children, supplementing learning at home to make up for instructional deficits, or worry about my child’s physical, and emotional health when I send them to school. And, for the record, I sincerely have found the majority of LD kids to be cool. It is the bullies, and behaviorally maladjusted kids that cause the most grief.

        I love the fact that ne14snow talks to the classmates about his/her son’s issues. That is awesome, and I think more parents should do that. Maybe there needs to be a transition class, or social skills class, before children are matriculated. Perhaps the article would have better addressed in applying compassionate thought to all students, instead of just one subsection. Special treatment only for certain kids, doesn’t go unnoticed, especially by children. Let the ones who do the right thing, know they are valued too. I know this article was written with the you never know what battle anyone is fighting. All I’m saying is that just because you aren’t “that” child or “that child’s parent, doesn’t mean you are having a wonderful time of it, or not fighting your own battles.

        • “It is the bullies, and behaviorally maladjusted kids that cause the most grief.”

          I think you missed the point of this letter. Her point was that the behaviors might be coming from a disability or from a horrific past that I hope you have been blessed to not live through. When a child has been abused for years, he doesn’t always behave the way you would expect. He is likely doing the best he can. If we shun and shame him, the odds of turning his life around are slim. If we embrace him and support him through it, the odds are he will be a successful, contributing adult who won’t harm others, but rather will contribute to a wonderful world of compassionate, empathetic adults

          On the flip side, I work in a classroom as a teacher and am also raising THAT child. I am very careful to provide what all the kids need and work myself to exhaustion each week doing this. What each child needs is not equal though. Fair is not equal, it is meeting the needs of each child where he/she is at. I have had classrooms without THAT child in the room and still cannot get out to each child as much as he/she (or parents) would like since I had 31 kids. As an example, if I have 30 kids and the math session is 60 minutes long, that leaves me 2 minutes per child if I don’t teach a lesson. Some of it is system and not a teacher giving THAT child more time and attention, however THAT child makes an easy target or excuse for why your child isn’t getting her needs met.

          For some kids, the only way to communicate is with behavior. Their brains aren’t fully developed enough to sit down and say, “Teacher, I am feeling overwhelmed so please help me.” It just doesn’t happen. The amount of nasty comments, bullying,teasing, whatever you want to call it that happens to THAT child from kids who are not THAT child is immense.

          My son is verbal enough to tell me the comments that kids like yours makes daily. Making fun of his feeding tube. Making fun of his speech impediments, the need for special classes/support, and he is a child who is not aggressive, mean, and doesn’t do anything to anyone else. He also has an aide, so he is not taking away from the education of other children. However, when the teacher does go to help him with a math problem, it does take him longer to work with my son than it might your child. That extra help, makes him a target.

          He has yet to act out against the other children who go home to complain about him, but yet he is picked on. So not only does he have the same normal kid challenges that your child has, but he also has chronic pain, medical treatments that are difficult, learning challenges, panic attacks that look like fits, and more to overcome. The conversations we have are not about how unfair life is, but how he is worthy to be alive despite what other kids say to him. That we don’t want him to end his life. He just turned 9.

          I am so proud of the young lady that my daughter is becoming as she has seen how hard it is for her brother who has Autism to just live, let along learn. We didn’t do anything wrong to end up with an Autistic child. I followed all the rules to the letter for prenatal care and have raised my son the same way as my daughter who is amazingly kind, respectful, etc.. It’s not always a parent’s fault that a child acts that way. My daughter is not THAT child. However, she doesn’t come home complaining about the kids in her room who are THAT child. She takes it with grace. I think all kids can be taught to have grace for that child and still not be victims themselves. There are times that she doesn’t get the help she needs, but she has never said it is because of THOSE kids and she has more than one in her room. She just asks for help from us and moves on. I think we can teach our kids not to be in tears over needing to come home and get extra help and we can teach them not to blame a child.

          There is a fine line that cannot be crossed. Your child has to be safe at school as well. And I totally get that. Ongoing physical aggression has to be dealt with, but her letter didn’t say it wasn’t being dealt with. Her letter said that she can’t tell you what is being done. Her letter said she can’t tell you why a child acts that way. Just like she won’t talk about your child with others. It’s a confidentiality issue and she is just saying consider that maybe there is a reason beyond brattiness for a child to act in a certain way. Is it easy, no, but I have seen my students who stick it out with empathy become far better kids in the end. It’s an amazing shift and it is all in how we teach kids about THAT child.

      • Kathy Chervnsik says:

        I see this issue from all sides:
        I teach in an elementary school. I am one of two music specialists, so I teach 1/2 of the student population, so I teach about 600 students. There are children on our campus that are extremely disruptive because of their disabilities. I have come to the conclusion that the pendulum needs to (and will) swing; from focusing on guaranteeing an appropriate education for special ed. students, to a focus on providing an appropriate education for all students . I predict that some day soon, parents of a regular education child will successfully sue for an appropriate education for THEIR child, because the education of their child is being compromised by disruptions by certain mainstreamed special education students.
        I have a daughter who was a very good student in school. The teachers never had a negative thing to say. They said she was “the perfect student”. I can appreciate the regular education student in the classroom of public schools. I also have a son with Asperger’s syndrome. He was one of “those” children. He was disruptive, and had so many needs that the classroom teachers he had would cry that they couldn’t help him as much as they wanted to. When he went to junior high we were made aware of a special program at another campus, that was set up with the extra services that kids like this needed. It wasn’t perfect, and we still had problems with some of the staff, as well as my son’s behavior. We had to sign a form acknowledging that we knew that this was NOT the least restrictive environment available; because special ed. students are guaranteed the least restrictive environment. It is a mistake to say (and mandate) that the least restrictive environment is always the best environment for special education students! My son got a better education in this special setting, and the regular ed. students were spared his disruptive behavior interfering with their education.
        I realize that not all schools/districts are equal. We have high ratings for schools in our district. We are fortunate that we have this special program for students with disabilities that affect their behavior. However, this program is only available for junior high aged children and older, and so these problems with receiving an appropriate education are still very real at the elementary school level.

        • Ettina says:

          I think you make a good point that a mainstreamed environment isn’t always the best environment for the child. A signing Deaf child, for example, will do much better in an environment where all her classmates are fluent signers than if she’s stuck with a bunch of kids who’ve never been exposed to sign before. (Although I think it would be great if all hearing kids were taught at least some signs.) There are other examples as well.

          However, in my experience, most schools aren’t *too* tolerant of ‘disruptive’ behaviour, they’re not tolerant enough. For example, one autistic boy I heard of (around middle school age) used to hum in a monotone whenever he got excited. His teacher was worried that this was disrupting his class, and kept trying to get him to stop, without much success. Then someone thought to ask his classmates what they thought, and it turned out that they barely noticed the humming. In fact, they found his teacher telling him to stop humming to be way more disruptive than his humming was.

          That reminds me – teachers can sometimes make a problem a lot worse than it needs to be. For example, in my case, I have always needed to know the reason why a rule is in place in order to follow it. Otherwise, I feel a deep-seated panic, like I’ll die if I follow that rule. At home, I was mostly well-behaved, because my parents were quite happy to explain the reasons behind rules in a way that made sense to me. But in school, I was ‘defiant’, because my teachers generally responded to me asking why by replying ‘because I told you so’. (Code for ‘I’m an unfair tyrant’ in my mind.) My parents tried to tell them that I just needed to understand why a rule was important, but they never listened. I think they thought my parents either didn’t give me any rules or were in denial about my behaviour. As a result, I became a ‘problem child’, who acted out in class and often had screaming meltdowns with the teachers. I have no doubt my meltdowns disrupted my class, but they could easily have been prevented if my teachers were willing to make a reasonable effort to accommodate my needs.

    • Amy says:

      As a kid, I was in precisely the same position that your kids seem to be in. I was frustrated, unchallenged, held back by THOSE kids. I felt overlooked, sad, and angry.
      In hindsight, those feelings were encouraged by my parents. They cared more about me than any of the other children (as, perhaps, they should), and fought for me. They complained about my school experiences, but did nothing to improve the situation. They did not feel for THOSE kids, and they did not encourage me to, either. They only cared about me.
      Now, I wish that they had set a better example. That they had used my experiences with THOSE kids to teach me compassion and empathy rather than elitism and self-importance. Perhaps, in another environment, I would have learned more, thrived intellectually. But the environment I was in had a lot to offer too, in terms of patience and understanding, which I now believe to be far more valuable than higher levels of math and science.
      I know that having a more advanced, privileged child has its own trials. Those are real and valid struggles. But it’s what you make of that negative situation that will demonstrate to your children how to cope with similar frustrations and instances of social inequity as they grow up.
      There’s still time to treat that disadvantage as an opportunity for fundamental growth of character.

      • Mrs. Villa says:

        Wow as a mother, Grandmother,teacher, neighbor and friend I commend you! Teachers have a lot on their plate but I for one love ALL my students! That child is probably in my classroom but they are embraced by everyone because they have been taught empathy! We take the time to discuss differences. A high achiever requires as much work as a low one just different. We stand by this poster on our door! A child is like a butterfly in the wind some fly higher than others but each does the best that it can. Why compare one against the other. Each one is different. Each one is special. Each one Is beautiful. Author unknown?The kiddos get it! Adults need to ! Tolerance and empathy can be taught along with the standards.

      • Amy I really love that! I agree with you that higher levels of math and science are rarely used in our adult lives… but patience and understanding are used daily!

    • Amy says:

      I just want to say congratulations, your children will be ready for the real world, where all of this happens every day- at jobs, at the store, driving down the highway. Life is not pretty and it sure is not fair. People need to understand they are not always the center of attention and that the people they can count on in life are their family. Parents can teach their children these things; the fact that you have been forced to and you have risen to the challenge is wonderful. You are not expected to embrace “that child,” you are expected to teach your children how to deal with difficulties in life. Your child will not go through their adult life not having difficult people as their co-workers, bosses or friends. They will know now.
      Does your child get less pats on the back and stars on their paper now because there are people with greater needs? Yep- that is life. If a child can’t be proud of who they are and look to their parents for their encouragement, you might as well give up now unless you are planning on going to work with them every day, being there when their spouse if fighting with them or a friend is not playing nice.
      Private schools and many charters force “that kid” to not attend- if you truly want a non-real world example of life for your child’s school experience, I suggest you go there. Public schools are real life. fair is NOT equal.

    • Guest says:

      I wouldn’t waste your breath. This article obviously resonates with a portion of the population and I’m glad it has helped them feel heard and supported. If it makes you feel any better, many of us feel the same as you and are able to see this complex issue from more than the one side.

    • Kim says:

      To Lost….I get where you are coming from and hear your frustrations and heart ache for your children and I can understand why you feel this way. I think your comments and complaints are valid and truly hope you all will find a way(s) to get through this time for the better. Isn’t it amazing how your critics can’t see their comments are the same as yours, only on the other side of the spectrum, so they think their complaints are “right” and yours aren’t??? All sides have difficulty in this day and age. Be strong and don’t let the schools make you think “my kids lost.” This too shall pass

  295. A says:

    This is freaking beautiful. Bravo. Happy tears.

  296. Allyson Alexander says:

    Eloquently written! As a primary teacher I understand that world and I so appreciate you capturing this sentiment! You are a gift to many no doubt. Thank you from one teacher to another

  297. SSW says:

    Schools need enough funding to provide support (i cluding therapeutic interventions) and safety for all children. Maybe if we shifted money away from all the testing (millions of dollars per school district for the tests, test-prep, computers for testing, staff to teach teachers how to teach students to take the test) we could do a little better by our students.

  298. CH says:

    I am not a teacher, but Scout Leader. over the past 25+ years I have had several of “Those Kids” in my troops. Thank you for sharing this, as this is exactly how how I feel about them. It brought to mind several kids that, now parents themselves, hug me in the grocery store when we run into each other because they know I cared.

  299. Kathy Cull says:

    My father, an elementary principal for 32 years, always asked the teachers in his school that when doing the report cards……”remember to put something POSITIVE about THAT child on his/her report card” because all that THAT child hears is negative about their daily life. My hats off to teachers…..you have a very difficult job taking care of our children…..THANK YOU!!!

  300. Lori Bisser says:

    Can the author of this article be THE decision maker for any and all sweeping changes in the ED system in the U.S.? God bless you. This kind of compassion is what we ALL need to lead with… (sorry for ending the sentence with a preposition..) : )

  301. Reese Speaks says:

    Thanks you for writing this post. I cannot imagine what it is like to handle so many children and the many challenges and surprises each one brings every day to your classroom. I have always tipped my hat to teachers because they do have such a challenging job. It takes a lot to have to deal with so many children at this stage in life, and I am glad there are teachers like you who are looking out for our kids at schools.

  302. Pamela Szymanski says:

    I know that kid very well. You captured this situation so eloquently. Thank you for speaking up on behalf of that kid, his/her siblings and his/her family. Every day is a struggle and every day has it’s reward for those who face that challenge head on!

  303. Sierra says:

    I absolutely love this! I thank God that my son has been blessed with the same amazing teacher the past two years because my son some days is “that child”.

  304. Christa Benson says:

    This is exactly what I needed this morning! Thank you for saying the things I can’t. As a special education teacher who works with children in the regular education setting, it’s nice to know that someone else understands the struggle of dealing with “that kid” and “those parents”.

  305. Tiffany Lorenz says:

    So True!!! I LOVE this! Thank you for posting.
    Tiffany Lorenz
    1st grade teacher
    Greenfield, WI

  306. kristy says:

    Thank you <3 🙂 x

  307. Tracy says:

    This is so beautiful – needed that reminder right now – def puts back into perspective why I became a teacher

  308. darkestangel says:

    My son is ‘that kid’. He’s autistic (has autism, whichever). This year he has a wonderful teacher and I’m very grateful for that. Not all teachers understand, not all want to. Those of you that take the time to care, listen and go that extra mile for our children are blessings and we salute you.

    • Diana Hopkins says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth! Beautiful….as a parent of a daughter with autism, its very hard for her to not be “that child” and the looks from other parents can be difficult. But she is doing well this year with the help of her new teacher. 🙂 I love it when people look at the good things also!

  309. K.S.C. says:

    This was a good read. I’m still struggling with “that kid”, that bit Ellie twice and has subsequently bitten 13 times (different toddlers) without being removed from the class. I saw his mom at the Halloween event and optimistically thought she’d at least acknowledge what happened and who knows, maybe offer an apology that we’ve yet to receive, but instead she was “aloof” and didn’t interact with any of the other parents. She sat alone with her son in the corner and avoided eye contact on parents night. After reading this, it gave me pause to wonder what the school knows that I don’t and what could be going on at home…and maybe what we (me and the other parents of children bit by her child) viewed as “aloofness” is maybe her embarrassment… It can be very hard to be empathetic when your child is the victim of that child. My husband and I are planning my daughters birthday party and we were strategizing how to invite the class, sans him…I think I need to rethink this a bit after reading this. Your timing of posting this couldn’t have been better.

    • Cate says:

      A person who might seem “aloof”, doesn’t interact, and doesn’t make eye contact, might not just be embarrassed; they might have autism. 😉
      As someone on the autism spectrum, I know how difficult it is to pretend to be normal for the sake of interaction with others, and I can only imagine how hard it must be to parent a child who might also have autism: not being able to read/process other people’s body language and emotions is extremely difficult, and trying to raise a child who can’t do that either, while attempting to negotiate emotional needs, guidance, etc. must be excruciating. Food for thought. <3

  310. […] French & International School in Canada. The following post, which appeared on her blog, Miss Night’s Marbles, is a powerful open letter directed to parents about THAT kid, the one other kids go home and talk […]

  311. Lisa Maze says:

    You rock!! I have had that kid and thanks to kind and understanding teachers he is becoming and awesome young man!!

  312. Lisa says:

    I sit here with tears rolling down my face. My first child is 19, and even though I raised her on my own at a young age, she was easy in retrospect. Weaned herself, hasn’t used a diaper (not even at night) from 25 months onward, spoke full sentences clearly by 2, A’s in school, played sports, National Honor Society, volunteers, Bio major at a good University, etc. I always thought I was a good mom and she was living proof of it. I could never understand why people had such a hard time with discipline and parenting. I secretly judged people at stores and restaurants with THAT kid. Then, 2 1/2 years ago, I had my son. He is the polar opposite of his big sister. Defiant, willful, prone to fits of rage and strong aggression towards others. Signing incident reports at daycare are a norm. He throws things, hits, kicks, bites, headbutts, chokes, holds children down while they cry and he laughs. Even as an infant he was so different…so difficult, so needy, so fussy, so uneasy to please, so tiring. He still wont sleep through the night. He gets night terrors and wails on me in his sleep, screaming and crying at something only he can see. He wasnt talking at 18 months and still sees a speech therapist now at 2 1/2. We have graduated to one-word sentences and have a couple of 2-word phrases in there from time to time, YAY! But he’s so smart. Cant talk but could identify all the letters of the alphabet, his numbers, and colors by age 2. He loves to cuddle and play. Loves to help me do the dishes, clean the counters, help with the laundry. Loves to do it at daycare, too. They let him “help” away from the other children when he acts up. They give him a spot to sit in that other children are not allowed to go to when he is having a “rage” moment. He gets to sit away from other children during movies, and at his own table during lunch if he wants to. When I cough, even from another room, he runs in and asks, ” You ok?” He shares his food with his toy animals. He gives kisses with no warning. He “reads” books to me. He is my baby. And some parents have made comments when they pick their kids up…right in front of me. Said hurtful things about my baby to him and me. I’m sorry my kid is THAT kid. Let all parents of “perfect” children know that I didnt raise him that way. He is loved and knows how to love. He is just…different. Always has been. We have ruled out autism. We are working on his behaviors with specialists and with his providers at day care. I wish I knew why he can be so hurtful and hateful one minute and so sweet and loving the next. He was just born that way. It has always been his personality despite our efforts to curb his behaviors. And I’ve shed many tears and I am trying my best. And so is he. Thank you for writing this post. I cant express how much I am grateful knowing that there are teachers out there in the world who care about kids like my son. Who wont label him “bad” or treat him harshly because he is challenge. He deserves to be understood and valued and protected and loved, too. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

    • GHR says:

      Wow, I thought I had written a post that I forgot about as I was reading what you wrote. Our stories, although with a few differences, are Very much alike! I have read a couple of books that have helped me in parenting my strong willed child, and think anyone with a strong willed child might appreciate the books as well… Raising Your Spirited Child, and The Strong Willed Child. Both are fabulous! I wish you the very best in parenting your little boy!

      • My daughter, now 20 was a strong willed child At fifteen months she would scream and cry at the top of her lungs whenever I went to work or just to the other side of the house. She would run when ever I let go of her hand and she would bite her brother and other children too. She had allergies and would sneeze five times in a row. She had a terrible runny nose and I think her life at that point was extremely frustrating for her (both of us really). So, I took her to the doctor, then a good ENT specialist. Next, that doctor put tubes in her ears. Miraculously, her behavior improved. She smiled more often and she became less aggressive to other kids. I had her examined and at two and a half she was working with a speech therapist. By five she was speaking so clearly that she was only monitored on a yearly basis by the school district. Her first grade teacher told me that she was extraordinary because they were putting on a play and she prompted the other children since she knew everyone’s lines. My daughter who at a year and a half was making me a nervous wreck, went on to become an A student, graduated high school with an AP diploma and better than a 4.0 average. She is continuing to do great work at a very competitive state university. I’m not saying that this is possible for every child but, I do believe that good things and real progress are possible if we can find out what it is that stands in the way of progress for each child, and if we advocate for those children who need some extra help to find the right path. When parents and teachers advocate for children it really makes all the difference in the world.

    • Claudia Shufran says:

      This post was important for all to read but yours about your polar opposite two, affected me more. I now have a 2 wk old grandchild and will remember your post and the teachers. Wishing you and your son the best always.

    • Heidi says:

      Lisa! Oh please please tell me what you have gone through that has helped! I am raising the exact child and my daughter is polar opposite from him. In minutes I am meeting with the school counselor and your post makes me so emotional and I finally feel like I have someone to relate to. This is the hardest thing I have gone through. I hope somehow to overcome this. I have felt so alone and embarrassed. I hope to find out more through all of these responses. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you post. You take the words right out of my mouth.

    • Amanda says:

      Wow when describing your son you described my son to a tee. My son is now five though. Everything you said about your son is mirrored in my son. He would hit me and get so angry for no reason, wasn’t talking when he should have been etc……but he is the kindest boy. At any rate we also had/have him in speech therapy and at the age of three they realized through a hearing test that he could not hear very well. He had surgery to put tubes in his ears and after the surgery the surgeon said to me that I would probably notice a difference in his speech and behaviour. He had so much wax that had built up in his ears that it became hard and therefore he couldn’t hear and it was constantly painful for him. He never got ear infections so we had no idea his problems stemmed from his ears-something so simple. After his surgery he did stop hitting and yelling and is now the sweetest child (always was to me). I feel for you and hope one day you will be in my shoes knowing why your son acts the way he does b/c there is always a reason but the journey to finding it is usually a long road. Last night my son had a nightmare and for the first time was able to actually explain to me what happened – he has come along way but it took a long time.

  313. karry mills says:

    What a wonderful post. My heart goes out to all of you who are parents to ‘that child’ -may you receive all the love and support of your teachers and communities. I hope that I will never be one to refuse my own children to play with yours.

  314. Katie says:

    I am in tears. I had That Kid. He was so little and wanted to shoot himself with a BB gun to end being sad. I had That Kid who with his brother emotionally dealt with a very sick father plagued by severe mental health issues. I had That Kid when he cried himself to sleep after we lost our house in the divorce and he couldn’t see his dad anymore and then the worse when he could start seeing his dad again. I had That Child who feared being kidnapped and lived with the fear of never seeing his brother or mommy again… And so so much more. I HAD that kid. I also had That Teacher, the amazing ones that kept him safe, called me, held my hand, gave him grace and hugs, gave him quiet time and a special place on the floor, who worried if they’d get a Christmas gift, who worried if they’d have warm clothes- my boys were blessed. I was and have been blessed and eternally grateful for That Teacher, all of them, that helped get us through the most difficult time in our life that could possibly exist. You gave us all love, you gave us grace, YOU gave us HOPE. All starting in a kindergarten classroom. Now he excels at everything! Is bright, loving, compassionate, quick with a smile and makes sure he touches someone’s life everyday so they know they weren’t missed in the crowd. He’s now a leader and captain of the team, he’s still That Kid, but for such amazingly different reasons. He became That Kid, my inspiration and so many others’ inspiration and joy because you showed him how. I hold all these treasures in my heart because without you, I may not have My Kid. <3

    • edivaput says:

      Katie, your reply made me gasp out loud. Such a beautiful story and your Grace and gratitude sing out from the page. As a special education teacher and a mom of a child with special needs, I feel so many things reading your story and the original post. I try so hard to be the best advocate for each of my students but I need reminders like this post to keep me grounded and conscious of the battles that I don’t know about. Thank you for sharing and thank you Miss Night for inspiring me to be a better teacher.

  315. scott says:

    Bless your heart.

  316. brettfish says:

    Wow, what an excellent post, thank you. So great to see this level of care and compassion. Great example.

    From the parents side, i have a couple of stories on my blog from the perspective of parents of young children when it has not been that easy which relates heavily to your piece i think: https://brettfish.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/taboo-topics-parents-of-young-children-intro

    But ja, so super good
    Keep on
    love brett fish

  317. Mommy says:

    Tears stream down my face as I attempt to thank you for this wonderful post. I wanted to be a mother and looked forward to it dearly, only to be told at 18 that I may never get that chance. Years later I proved doctors wrong and was gifted an amazing, adorable boy. At one year he only had a few words and we were referred to a speech program. He has had violent episodes, thankfully most have just been with me. Teachers like you have helped our family journey. Today we enrolled in a full preschool program and I am beside myself with worry, fear and sadness…or at least I was until I read this. With much appreciation for all that you do, signed with love, a mother whose child has recieved services for developmental delays.

  318. Jules says:

    THAT child is my child and reading this has brought tears. Tears of relief that someone worded it so perfectly, tears that others perhaps do understand and tears for wishing every parent in THAT child’s class could be handed a copy of this.
    Thank you for sharing so beautifully.

  319. cait says:

    I fear every day that my 9 year old and 2 year old are or will be “that kid”. Both myself and my husband were addicts theirdad went to jail and myself to get help, Dad is home now but we no longer live together and as much as I pray I don’t know if we will be together ever again. Both my kids are loved and cared for dearly,but i always wonder how my 9 year old really feels and how many kids are missing out on such a special loving friend because parents dont want their child around mine (“that kid”). When i go to her school i always feel ashamed that others are thinking how horrible they feel for them. I was also “that kid”. My baby puts on a brave front but I know deep down she hurts and possibly wishes her parents were like most. Thank you for posting this.

    • Mrs. M says:

      Please know your child’s teacher and social worker would probably love to hear this from you if they haven’t already. It could be a catalyst for discussion with your daughter on the road to healing. You can’t change your past, but it sounds like you are trying to change your future. The school is a great resource for you to use to build bonds with your children and rebuild some self confidence as well best of luck

      • Sindy Sands says:

        That is so true. I work with “those kids” at school. I talk to parents who are fearful their kid is “that kid”. I am the speech therapist who has those kids who can’t express what they are feeling so they hit or punch or run. You are trying to do what is best for your child and that is a great gift. Don’t hesitate to ask for help and be honest with teachers. I know there is an occasional non-compassionate teacher or staff member but the majority want to know, want to help and will be your partner in this.

    • Guest says:

      Cait, you are showing your children that humans make mistakes but that we all have a choice to change our path. Please don’t be ashamed or embarrassed about the path you were on. You sought help, you’re working every day to be on a healthier path. Your kids will look back during their own difficult times and remember that they can choose a different path.

  320. Nichole Rich says:

    This is so beautifully said.

  321. Robyn says:

    I hope you are my child’s teacher

  322. chelsie says:

    I have to say that this article came at a perfect time for me. My son is that child, and after a year of working with the teachers his behaviour issues are mostly in check and now he will be seeing a speech language pathologist for comprehension delays and an occupational therapist for severe fine motor delays. I am a single mom and i worry constantly, but the support of these amazing teachers and other support programs are going to make all the difference in my sons life and encourage me to keep going on when i am stressed and ready to break. I am so thankful to these amazing teachers!

  323. stephanie says:

    My son has autism and is currently in PPCD but he’s doing so well and we hope he will be in a regular classroom at some point within elementary school, so he probably will be that child. I certainly hope that his path is filled with teachers with the understanding and compassion you showed here. I often worry about the challenges he will face and I know he will need support at school as well. This lifted my spirits today!

  324. Meghan Singer says:

    I was THAT child. I was “removed from” 4 different elementary schools, was on a pre-expulsion contract by 8th grade, and BARELY graduated from high school (not because of low grades, but because of days suspended). But through all that, very few educators bothered to find out the why behind it all. My Assistant Principal in 11th grade was one who did and I will forever be indebted to him.

    Now, I teach THAT kid. Handfuls of them. Every day, in every period of my junior high English classroom. I still struggle with what to do to help them sometimes, and I often wonder if I am doing enough, but they will always hold a special place in my heart. I was there. And I know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  325. Ashley says:

    I am a Personal Aide to “That Kid”. I had a different “That Kid” last year. I love both of them to death. I have dealt with the questions that the other kids ask about why he does it. I don’t have a straight answer for them. But I know in my heart that he doesn’t fully mean it. The hitting goes in cycles. Mom and Dad are amazing, and they work so hard with him, but his twin brother is also “That Kid”, so it is a struggle I am sure. But those boys are well loved at home and at school.

  326. Megan says:

    I’m a preschool teacher and a mom of one of “that kid.” I was wondering if it would be ok…can I print this out and give it to parents at conferences? So often I get asked, “Please don’t let MY kid play with THAT kid…” and I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t say those words didn’t come from my mouth too.

  327. kelley says:

    My little brother is THAT child. The one who got suspended in second grade for saying “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU” in the bathroom when another student was in there…because he was imitating Darth Vader in the mirror. The one who is a whiz with computers but can’t for the life of him pay attention in middle school english class, the kid who -many- teachers classify as a “bad student” and not worth their time or effort.

    This post gave me hope for him.

    Thank you.
    -His college-aged sister

    • Kathy says:

      Kelley, my little sister was THAT child when she was in preschool. She has done a 180 since then, and is a very, very amazing 8th grader now. She’s a blackbelt in Karate, an excellent writer, and a deep thinker. I love her so much, and she’s gone through a lot. Keep having hope!

      -Her college-aged sister

  328. Ferrel says:

    Thank you for monitoring comments!!! So many times fabulous, positive messages like this turn negative due to people’s comments! And thank you for writing this. It is just what I have wanted to say. I will be sharing it with many!

  329. Barbara Doll says:

    There will always be “That Kid” and sometimes it may be yours. I have made it to the “grandma” stage….a true blessing. Now I know that “that kid” can, sometimes, be “your” kid or “mine”. They all need kindness, love and understanding of whatever their problem or status may be today. I had one wonderful “easy” child and one with ADHD. Later I obtained three more step children each with their own problems. Time passes and the best thing that I have learned is to love them all. If they know that you are doing your best to help them, occasionally getting tired and frustrated yourself, but always loving them, things do work out.

    I do agree that teachers are much like nurses. I am one of the later, retired, but still a “nurse” inside our family circles and with my friends. Once a nurse, or teacher, or parent…always a nurse, or teacher or parent. Have you ever turned around in the grocery store when a child called “Mommy”? or “Daddy”? Of course, you turn around, see a small child and remember…how it felt to be so tired of hearing it…but you always turn around. When you respond to a child, no matter their age, or a friend or relative, you are teaching them that some one, some other person cares…cares who they are, what their problem is and maybe can help.

    Each person is put in this world to love, and to be kind and caring and patient with each other. Someone may need your help today and tomorrow it may be you that needs the help. Do the best you can every moment of each day, show love to each other each day and be a good example to your children and to all children. That is how they learn.

    And, yes, be grateful to the teachers, the nurses and all who are in the helping professions. They all deserve more pay but they also deserve our special “thank you” for what they do each day….whether we see it or not.

  330. So beautiful! A reminder to be empathetic, compassionate and kind always! Be helpful and understanding with the teacher and with all students!

  331. Susan says:

    I have 2 “that kids”. One left last week to enter the 6th school in 4 years, and has fallen so far behind that not even the “specialist” teachers can help him. But he was FINALLY getting math. And loved it. But now he’s gone. My other “that kid” has been labeled a sociopath by former teachers, who say they’re just waiting for him to kill someone, yet he stands at my door every morning after he unpacks just so he can get one more, really long hug (and by “long”, I mean the entire time I stand at the door for morning duty). He writes me letters that say I’m the sweetest teacher he’s ever met and he loves me. They don’t know that both of my “that kids” have moms who take them to strip clubs, or spend their money on booze instead of food, or don’t walk them to the bus because it’s too far and too cold. My “that kids” are the stories you hear about but can’t imagine it actually happening.

    Thanks for speaking out for “those kids”. They need a voice. And we’re screaming as loudly as we can. Keep the faith!

  332. Shirlee Reid says:

    My twins are delayed. They have speech and language and OP delays. They both have seizures and one takes meds daily. My children have been THAT child. As an early childhood major with a focus in special ed I completely understand this post from both sides and I want to thank u for being THAT special person who makes hard times better for families like mine!!

  333. Ann says:

    Tears in my eyes…I married “that child’s” father and legally adopted “that child”. His backstory is difficult. He is socially awkward and needs more attention than most. Again, we will be there next week!

    I also adopted an “easy one” that was asked to share his excellent social skills with other “that child’s” who were troubled. And he enjoys it. I thank you for watching over him, as well!

  334. Anita Hollander says:

    Throughout my daughter’s childhood, from preschool through high school, she was paired with THAT kid on projects & activities. It was thought that she would have a “good influence” on them. Though at times frustrating & challenging, my daughter developed compassion and skills that are serving her well now as she runs a preschool program herself. We owe a little gratitude to THOSE kids.

  335. Aimee says:

    Brought tears to my eyes. I’m a teacher & there will always be a “that child”.

  336. Pam Arnold Playter says:

    Thank you for this. It’s so easy to forget that there is a backstory to every action in someone else’s life and that you should be kinder than necessary because everyone is facing some kind of battle.

  337. I did some voluntary teaching a while back and now work as a private tutor. I was in a school in a poor area and one kid, can’t even call him THAT kid as he was usually very quiet, deemed as ‘slow’. One day he totally lost it and slammed a compass point from a pair of compasses right into my hand. Then he actually cowered excepting the s**t to hit the fan. I pulled it out and sat down, just asked him
    “Why did you do that? What’s happening in there that you thought that was ok to do?”
    Not shouting or anything, just asked, keeping my tone calm. He stared, horrified at my hand, it was bleeding but not much. He started to babble how sorry he was and please not to kill him like his dog.
    Eventually it all came out that the pervious his his waste of flesh bag of a dad and picked up his puppy and wrung its neck for barking and he’d been holding it in all this time, lying when his mum came home that he’d done it as his dad said he’d kill him if he told.
    As a voluntary there wasn’t much I could do except hold his hand while we went to the Head and got Social Services involved.The dad was removed from the scene shall we say, and the boy opened up to me a lot through the year. We found out he was a gifted artist and pretty good at his numeracy after all.

    I stopped at the end of that year because my part time job went full time with the youth service so I had no time to be in the school every day and he and a little girl (they were Year 4, 8-9 year olds) who was getting picked on (not by him) got a petition up to get me to stay. I walked him and her home every day after school as they were too scared to go alone. After a while I had quite a trail of kids who all needed walking home. they have people in high vis to do this now, but for that school, there was only me. I held the tears in till I got to the staff room when they gave me this bit of paper covered in people’s names, even some parents had signed. I hope I helped him enough to not become THAT kid.

  338. Alan says:

    There is not much i can say. All this I learned growing up as an outsider, but not THAT child. I saw the patience, I saw the compassion, I saw the sacrifice of the teachers. Then my mother became one. Then a dear friend of mine became one. Teaching is like nursing – it comes from love, from compassion, from a desire to make the world a better place.

    So all I can say is “Thank you for your service”

    Because teachers are the heroes of tomorrow, for that is what they help shape and they do it with their own time, their own compassion and their own caring.

  339. Melissa says:

    I just want to say thank you! It takes a village.

  340. Karen Brough says:

    Years ago, I had raised those concerns. But, I had come to your conclusion about a year ago and now while we are saying prayers before bedtime, we remember to pray for the kids whom God has asked more challenges, and that we take the opportunity to practice love and understanding, and to learn from others, and see their gifts. It is hard and we watch how teachers do it successfully.

  341. Crystal Ault says:

    Thank YOU! Immense respect for all you teachers do. As a mom to a new kindergartner I am already seeing all that teachers must have laid on their hearts and my girls teacher seems to handle these with flawless grace and I admire and respect her for it. Insightful article. I hope parents can take it to heart. Thank you again.

  342. Racquel says:

    I’m homeschooling my son, my sisters are homeschooled, I wasn’t, but I wish I was.

  343. Kim Green, kindergarten teacher says:

    Thank you!

  344. Nancy says:

    Thank you. I taught for 21 years, and know exactly what you are talking about. Sometimes, teachers are the only advocate those kids have. Thank you for caring.

  345. tammy thomdon says:

    I am also a teacher of THAT kid. Sometimes other kids are harder to explain things too than parents. At the same time as a parent, I get that to every parent… ..their child is the most important as it should be. No only do teachers have to worry about all if their “kids” but parents and government requirements. Teachers are amazing people and we do it all because we love our kids!!!!!

  346. Lee Annable says:

    I am to old to have children in school and i will never have grandchildren but i relate to this as i was that child many many moons ago. I particularly like that this and i am sure many many more teachers are so caring and empathic to the most vulnerable in our society, that is the little people who will eventually end up looking after us older people. Teachers are a very special breed of people who don’t usually do the job for money ( but they have to live too ) but for the satisfaction of helping the little ones on the road of life, I was such a child and still remember with affectionn one of my teachers reading Whinney the pooh to me to calm me. Carry on, all of you.

  347. A.M says:

    Just got home from parent/teacher conference and I am mom to THAT kid. This brought me to tears, happy tears. I have been so frustrated and worried about the other kids and their parents and the teachers and what they think of him and us. To read these words takes so much weight off my shoulders, and I am grateful! Even if only for a little while. But, I am mostly thankful for his teacher who is kind and patient and open to listening and flexible to meeting with us regularly to discuss his progress and what she is doing to help him engage express and relate better.

  348. Carol Miller says:

    My daughter is finishing her masters while starting her career as a middle school special education teacher. I am so proud that she has gone back to college and is pursuing her love of teaching. There is not enough we can say to show our appreciation for all the great teachers who educate and support the children in their care.

  349. Mom747 says:

    Dear Ms. Night,

    How is the bullying practically handled on either side? How about gossiping that does a lot of damage? How do either type of kids supposed to handle being afraid of emotional and physical harm? Everyone should feel safe and be treated in a civil manner. What practical steps are made to ensure that everyone can learn in peace and safety? I am a big advocate for teacher’s aides and special aides.

    You are a great teacher! You should be a master teacher, or a speaker for other teachers and parents to learn more about these issues! Even going into other schools and teaching the students how to deal with this as well!

  350. I am guilty of having been that mum…the mum of the ‘normal kid’ judging ‘that’ kid ….unfortunately ‘that’ kid was a dear friends child and I ruined our friendship by being judgemental and steering clear instead of supporting her when she needed it most….. I will post this…I hope she sees it, reads it, identifies with it and sees my sincere apology…but im sure she wont,…I have learned my lesson the hard hard way….

  351. lucy hershberger says:

    When my son was in school That child was disrupting the class, lunch and recess. When I talked to the teacher she didn’t have the time or staff to offer as much help as he needed so I asked a question we all should ask. What can I do? I ended up volunteering with other kids so she could do more with him. It is not enough for us to sympathize and understand it could be our child. DO SOMETHING, volunteer, donate, vote for more funds for our schools,(yes throwing money at this problem will help) we can’t just hope that teachers can keep taking care of our children without support from all of us we must advocate for all children.

  352. Patty says:

    God Bless you!

  353. Dolores says:

    What a wonderful explanation of “that child”! Everyone one of us, has “that child”, why you ask, because no child is perfect & life happens! We were not put here to judge or be judged! Compassion & forgiveness are key!

  354. Makes me want to go back and finish my teaching degree….

  355. sunsinsweden says:

    I absolutely loved this! As a mum of two boys who are not THAT child, but one that seems to be veering on the path that way, this really hit home. He has an amazing teacher, and when I read this, it reminded me so much of her! Loved it all, but mostly how much you care about OUR children!

  356. Jeanne Justice says:

    So Amazing! Thank You so much for your love of children!!!

  357. bdth says:

    Heart wrenchingly beautiful.

  358. AMB says:

    My daughter has been targeted by THAT kid repeatedly over the last 5 years. She has come home crying, I’ve witnessed it at school, I’ve made sure the teachers know it’s happening so they could help both of them. Sometimes my daughter is best friends with THAT kid and is then ostracized by her other classmates because of this. They have a very “on again – off again” type friendship but my daughter has always continued to see the good in THAT kid and has done what she can to encourage her to be good. For the last few years their friendship has been “on again” during her birthday so she has invited THAT kid to her party. Because of this some of the other kids in their class refused to come even when THAT kid was busy and couldn’t attend her party. I’m proud to say my daughter still continues to invite THAT kid despite others opinions.

    This year THAT kid was able to attend AND this year other kids have started to see the good in THAT kid too. Nobody backed out because THAT kid was planning to attend. They all had a wonderful time. Yes, THAT kid, required more supervision than the others but THAT kid also showed so much love towards everyone, constantly helped out, was the first to show incredible amount of compassion when others were hurt or sad and to defend those who were wronged.

    I don’t know the life story behind THAT kid and I don’t need too. All I need to know is that my daughter has a friend with a heart of gold and despite the ups and downs I’m hoping they will be in each other’s lives for a very long time. I’m thankful to all who have helped her along the way. They didn’t just help one child but everyone else who that child will in turn help along the way in her lifetime too.

  359. Christie Nyquist says:

    I am (was) a parent to that child. Our local private school could not take him because they did not have an extra staff member to help him when he would need that extra time to calm down. We knew nothing about our public “home” school, but I called the principal and talked with her before the school year started. I explained our son and situations that would arise. She was not concerned in the least…because she was dealing with several children like my son and it was working! After the first week of school, his teacher called and spoke with me for 45 minutes to get my feedback on what worked best for my son. After 1-2 months into the school year, the principal, his teacher and I met to discuss how to make sure that all of the school staff knew best how to deal with my son’s personality. We met again a few months later, although there was not much to discuss. He was doing better. My son was supported, and knew that he was supported- by the entire staff at the school. I don’t know if the school went above and beyond what a public school should do. I just know that they did what I think that they should have done. My son was not a bad child, he just saw the world differently than other children. His world is very black and white. He is also very smart and analyzes everything. He is doing math that he has not yet been taught. He used to feel a lot of anxiety and had trouble expressing what he was feeling. His school just went with it. They did what he needed them to do. They respected him, they were patient and caring and they gave him time. Sometimes that time was in the office or in the “focus” room. All I know now is that my son is thriving. He is excelling in most subjects and he loves to please his teacher, whom he loves. He is proud. I thank the teachers by volunteering and occasionally bringing them a goody bag of chocolate. And I do say thank you. What I have learned by being a parent to THAT child is that if there is that village that they say it takes to raise a child, things can be accomplished, growth can happen, change can happen. Among other services and people, our son’s school was a huge part of that village. Oak School in Albany, OR is an AMAZING school!

  360. Dennis Wilson says:

    On Monday, my child (who I know has the potential of becoming “that” child) was the recipient (I refuse to use the term victim) of the behavior of “that” child. You can tell parents about their own child, so I’d love to see a future blog post on what you do in your classroom to protect all the “my” children in your class.

  361. shayla says:

    Really like this, gives me perspective as my son has been pushed around by a boy at school and its been easy just to wonder how he will be disciplined, but its about a whole lot more than that isn’t it. Thank you kind teachers everywhere xx

  362. zusiqu says:

    I do appreciate good teachers so much! My girl is in college now, but when she was in grade school she couldn’t read. When she finally began to decode reading, she read slowly. Some teachers told me she wasn’t bright. I knew they were wrong and so did her grade 2, 3 & 4 teachers. They went the extra mile with her and one even let me borrow her personal books to help my girl decipher reading. I am forever grateful to them. Turns out my girl was undiagnosed dyslexic.

    There was a ‘that kid’ one year. A year ‘that kid’ kept hitting my girl. Since nothing we did got the hitting to stop, I taught my girl some defensive moves (blocking moves.) ‘That kid’ then complained to the principal that my girl hurt her. It came out that the complaint was that my girl hurt ‘that kid’s’ feelings when she blocked the hits. The hitting stopped after that, but I always believed ‘that kid’ had one hellova back story.

  363. Linda Grieve says:

    This is a wonderful, heart searching, eye opening article. I believe it has been etched on my brain. Thank you for sharing.

  364. Jennifer says:

    I just read this as I’m having lunch w/ my fellow teachers, while sitting at the kids desks and going over report cards, preparing for parent teacher conferences. It brought tears to my eyes. Everything you wrote struck a chord with conversations and concerns I’ve had with my colleagues at some point today. This is a must share!

  365. elana says:

    Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher. I have a mature 21 year old that was “that” child in middle and high school. The teachers who took the time and patience to understand what he was going through as well as recognize his strengths found out how to get him to see the best in himself.

  366. I am one of those teachers that has worried Each night about children I know who are going home to things they shouldn’t have to see or hear or experience and I relate to everything you said. But I’m also the parent of THAT child who has struggled over the last three years to fit. It wasn’t until we payed for private assessments that the full extent of this bright boy’s issues were discovered and even we were shocked. I am the parent who has sat crying in the unsympathetic head’s office and then had to comfort a parent!! Thank you for this article. My eyes were watering.

  367. Jerry Weinert says:

    The need for unconditional love is exemplified by you and your love. Thanks.

  368. Katie B says:

    Thank you for writing what I too feel every day.

  369. Becky Fancher says:

    Amen and amen! As a high school counselor, I had THOSE kids when they were older and not as cute anymore. But they still needed the same compassion and understanding, and their home situations and disabilities and issues were still there and compounded by hormones. And I still couldn’t tell other parents that the reason a kid was acting that way was because his dad pulled a gun on his mom the night before and the cops came and the kid hadn’t had a wink of sleep. Or that another kid walked in on his mom in bed with a stranger while his dad was away on business and the boy was now self-mutilating and depressed. No, these were my “frequent flyers” in my office; the ones not turning in their homework, and doing poorly in school, and picking fights and being moody. The ones not easy to love. If only I could tell all this to the parents complaining. But I couldn’t. I could only tell them that we never know what a person is going through until we walk in their shoes and hope they would take that to heart. Thank you for explaining it so well.

  370. Deena B Miller says:

    I thank you so much for the job you are doing as teachers. I also agree that you never get the credit or funds you need to do your job. But, most of all I thank you for being the teacher that recognized my nephew was THAT child and gave him the attention he needed. He is the child of a broken home, his mom is a single parent, he has a baby brother that is also THAT child. Because his Mom can’t get a better job because she has no education, she can’t afford a home, so they live with his great grandparents. His great grandfather has dementia, so he is constantly yelling and hitting him with his cane. He needs that special touch and has found it in you. You are his angel.

  371. Coralie says:

    Such Love. I remember my fourth grade teacher saying that we would be spending more time together that school year than we would with our parents. It takes a village.

  372. Alix purton says:

    Most teachers are THAT teacher, it’s the reason they chose to go into the profession in the first place. Every class has THAT child and we all learn how to deal with them in the way that they require. We also have THOSE children in our classes – the ones who don’t understand, whinge to parents when they don’t get what they want and tease THAT child. Add to that THEIR parents who are THOSE who permanently label THAT child as being the bully, or the cause of trouble when THEIR children are perfect Angels and always the victim. Thank you for pointing out what WE already know, but can’t communicate because we respect THAT child and what he or she is coping with.

  373. Tonia says:

    THANK YOU! My daughter’s first year of Pre-school was a nightmare for both of us. Her teacher didn’t care and I didn’t know how to help my daughter. The teacher eventually threatened to quit if I didn’t remover my daughter from the school. We moved her to another school for Kindergarten and it was the best thing we ever did for her. Her teacher did care, and it showed. She loved my daughter and made adjustments for her in the classroom. She allowed her to take breaks when it became too much. All the teachers in the school know my daughter, but they are always smiling and greeting her with love. No more “Oh, you’re THAT kids mother”. I now hear others talk kindly about her and how much they enjoy her. Thanks to teachers like you, we both enjoy school now.

  374. Cara says:

    I can only hope that parents & teachers nationwide read this and hear the message. We need more teachers like this.

  375. That Kid says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I was that kid from age 12-highschool. I come from a small town so my school only had about 40 students and only 6 teachers. It’s not a massive amount of people but these people made up most of the people I knew in the world. As a 12 year old girl I was not about to stand up in front of my school and explain to them the horrific events that happened in my life over summer break that caused such a dramatic change in my attitude. I was a complete outcast by both students and teachers and that just made it worse. I actually had to spend study halls in an “isolation corner” so my sin wouldn’t “rub off on other students”. They would actually pull a curtain around the corner so I couldn’t even be seen. I had another teacher that would make it a point to tell me daily that she didn’t like me. We got a new teacher and this post reminds me of her. On her first day she saw me sitting alone at lunch and came over, gave me a hug and asked me to sit with her. I ate lunch with her everyday in complete silence for over 2 months. I needed to make sure I trusted her. Eventually I could tell she really cared and that woman slowly changed my whole life. The world needs more teachers like you. Thank you for everything you do for your students….and I apologize for the novel.

  376. florezamy says:

    Wonderfully stated, I want parents to know that my kid is THAT kid, and I spend about 90% of my life worrying about him hurting your kid too. I’m pushing as hard as I can to advocate for him and for the accurate understanding of ADHD, Aspergers, and medication. I may quote you in my next post. Thanks.


  377. Jay says:

    This is the kind of teacher I aspire to be one day. Thank you for this post.

  378. ana louise stuart says:

    This is wonder-full. Thank you.

  379. Charles Sivewright says:

    What a FANTASTIC read – if only ALL parents could support this! – I love this!!!

  380. Kristina Hunt says:

    By now I think you know how much your words have touched so many people… but I had to express my thanks as well. I am a mother of THAT child and you brought tears to my eyes. THANK YOU!

  381. Colleen says:

    My child learns from your treatment of THAT child how to practice compassion, patience, respect, fairness, and responsibilty for life. My child is so lucky.

  382. jeanne says:

    I also feel for these children but the other children are suffering because of their actions. Thankyou to the teachers that show special attention but my child needs to be given attention also. No parent wants their child segregated but there comes a time when that needs to be done and remove the child from the classroom so the other children can learn.

  383. Tom Hanmer says:

    It is amazing to me that there are so many responses to this article. They all remind me of family and the difficulties that occurred in school and out. I myself am ADHD but was not diagnosed until 40 years old. I was “That Kid” during many years in school but nobody picked up any reasons for the behavior. Some years went very well when I had an experienced teacher with a little compassion, who knew what to do and say when and then there were the other teachers. These bad experiences I still remember now 60 years later. Due to my experiences and a very observant wife, our young son was diagnosed very early with a few difficulties. This was even before he started school, so when he did they had some information to go on. In his early school years, he and a few other “That Kids” even drove one of the teachers to find another profession. Fortunately though our guy was a also a very nice boy, the school principal got to know him well and helped him from Kindergarten to Grade 6. Without this understanding and his pushing for in classroom help and very good, loving teachers aids our guy would have probably not done anywhere near as well as in fact he has done. Only wish all teachers could be as good. Another person in our family suffered from dyslexia and has had to pay for it all his life. Only later in life, after his schooling was completed was he diagnosed. He was called every name in the book and very little help was offered or given. It was just thought he was not as bright as some. In fact he is very intelligent and would have done very well if things had been picked up. He got off to such a bad start, it has put a feeling in himself that he maybe cannot fulfill his destiny. Teachers are so important to forming minds that it is really too bad when some fail young and old minds.

  384. Ceep says:

    It’s so frustrating. I just found out the little girl who was picking on my child moved. I’m glad she will no longer pick on my child. In our case it was a bullying problem. I’m not sure if she had extenuating circumstances. I did tell my children that we don’t know what her home life is like and that children who are happy don’t pick on other people. But at the same time my children need to be safe, learn to stick up for themselves. I did want to know how the teacher was handling the situation. I was told she was “talking” to the girl. I don’t know what that means but I certainly did want to know what was going on when it kept up.

  385. tabitha p says:

    I hope all my sons teachers are like this even though I will only know what they do for them. Because some of mine were like that for me (the shy one that had trouble even asking to go to the bathroom).

  386. R. Harris says:

    My son is having to deal with “That Child” in grade 3. The child is his best friend one day and pushing him and teasinv him the next. My son is confused why his friend does this. We know the child dealt with divorce and splitting visitation and so on. This child told my son this. Although, we don’t know what else goes on behind closed doors, how this child is feeling. Yesterday the child punched my son in the back during recess and my son told him he was going to tell the teacher. The child explided into teats and kept apologizing and promised he would never be mean again. My son told my husband and I that he felt very bad for the child. He felt that this time the child really meant it and my son told him he would give him one more chance. We were very proud that our son was empathetic and gave him another chance to be his friend. We appreciate that our son understands that perhaps the child doesn’t realize what he is doing and regrets it after he does the mean act.
    Sometimes children need to be given the space to try to handle the situations on their own. Parents and teachers should act as guides and mentors but children can understand eachother in a way we sometimes can’t. We don’t always know what’s going on in that childs home life and this post was wonderfully written. To remind us that everyone has issues, but some children need help learning how to deal with those issues. We all want to keep our children safe but they also have to learn how to resolve their own problems under adult care and supervision. We need to give them the tools to use to help them in hostile situations. Thank you for reminding us that some teachers do take the time and have the dedication needed to truly want to care for our children.

  387. I wish you were my child’s teacher!

  388. Jan Rawson Gallop says:

    As a grandparent of several children that have difficulty in school I am very appreciative of your concern and care. I have met so many teachers that make the extra effort to help these children acclimate to their surroundings and take the time to teach them how to handle difficult situations. I can also say that, as a parent of such children, I do worry about how difficult this is for the teacher, both professionally and emotionally. I want to say “Thank You” to all of you that have the heart and soul to teach. It is not an easy job and it is only getting harder. Thank You for all your hard work and concern.

  389. Ronda Brough says:

    Very well said!! I wish ALL teachers were more like you, we need more of YOU in our schools, and our world!! Thank you. Thak you for being a teacher. Thank you for being you.

  390. Nikki says:

    I’ve always believed that teachers are unsung heroes. In high school, I even wrote a paper about why they needed to be paid more. I’ve chosen to homeschool, not because of the teachers, but because of a difference of opinion about other things. God bless you and srengthen you!

  391. Mary says:

    Thank you for being THAT teacher…the one God directed to the most noble profession outside parenting. The fact is that all children are learning in response to this child. They are leaning compassion, understanding, patience, and love that you model. Those are more important than anything in the formal curriculum. I want my grandchildren to have you as their teacher….every year, every school. God bless you for your important work with our most precious asset, our children. From parent, grandmother, teacher, principal, and superintendent in education all my life.

  392. Great letter, I worried about my child being that child because he still has speech delay as a result of glue ear when he was a toddler. He may not be going through ‘stuff’ which no child should ever go through but as we all know all children are different and my large boy can still get frustrated at times. The trouble is because he looks like a 7 year old at 4 people only see his reaction.

  393. Desiree says:

    Thank you doesn’t even seem like the right word. I AM a parent of “that” child. It is a struggle everyday. Others only see the negative. They never see the caring thoughtful things my child does. He has a problem and he more than anyone else realizes that and wants to change. A little empathy would go a long way.
    I had tears in my eyes the whole time reading this. You truly touched my heart. THANK YOU!

  394. Jennifer says:

    As a parent of a kindergartener that is being bullied by ‘that kid’ in his class, I can really identify with things you’ve said here. My son still tries to be his friend, and is convinced that ‘that child’ just needs to be shown the smart choices to make so he can act better. You be opened my eyes to the other side I hadn’t considered, and for that I am grateful. Thank you for reminding me to be empathetic anymore patient when I don’t know the whole story.

  395. Jennifer says:

    As a mom of THAT kid, and two more that are showing disabilities, this brings tears to my eyes, and lifts a weight off of my heart. I know that there are caring teachers that are going to show just as much concern for the well being of my “problem kids” as they do for the “good” kids. My children are my world, and to know that when I send them to school there will be someone there that cares about them is powerful.

    No parent brings home their new baby thinking that they will ever face any issues with their kids, but when there is you face it. You work with what God has given you and you make the best of it. Thank you to all of the wonderful teachers, therapists, and other professionals that put their heart and soul into ensuring that all of these special kids receive a better chance at life.

  396. Robin says:

    Thank you! I am a retired Special Needs Kindergarten Teacher and this is Spot On! In today’s most confusing world, this is something everyone needs to know. It’s how we teachers live and breathe, but so not known to most others.

  397. Brigitte says:

    Thank you. This is so precise in describing a parents fear and lack of understanding. This helps to remind us that all children are different and have different situations. Normal is a concept that changes daily.
    I was fortunate to have found a few angels to help my son while he was in school. He was “that child”. I especially would like to thank Miss Debbie. She was a silent force, always there for all the kids both at school or in passing. She never required attention for her actions. My son and I were truly blessed to have her in our lives.

  398. clare Barone says:

    Thank you, this is my first year as a parent of a kindergartner. Parent teacher conferences are coming up I will share this. Thank you for teaching. Thank you for caring. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  399. Brenda says:

    I have taken care of “That Child” before, and my son has a boy in his class like that as well. Thank you for this wonderful letter and hopefully making parents understand even just a little.

  400. MomOf8 says:

    As an adoptive parent of a child who witnessed terrible domestic violence, was a victim of sexual and physical abuse, was labeled “autistic” because she didn’t speak due to developmental delays and she was just plain afraid of being slapped when she mispronounced a word, I thank God for the wonderful teachers we have had in our lives for the last 4 years! Thank you for this article! Maybe this will help parents to not judge “THAT” kid…there is always an unseen reason…

  401. Liz B says:

    What a wonderful post! Thank you for touching on so many different issues affecting teachers and parents. We all need to pay attention to the little signs that we are given so that we can encourage children to be their very best! When this is accomplished, they become adults at their very best!

  402. Thank you to all teachers out there. You make such a difference to so many lives, yet much of this goes unrecognised.

  403. Olivia says:

    This is spectacular. I couldn’t have said it better myself if I tried. I taught kindergarten and had some of “that child” and parents would ask me to keep their child far away from “that child”. You are an inspiration and exactly what a teacher should be!

  404. Jen says:

    Too often I’ve witnessed a teacher not behaving appropriately towards “that child”. This is a great reminder of what we can all aspire towards as educators. Thank you!

  405. Tracy says:

    Amen thank you I have that frustrated cause he can’t communicate child. So he acts out. Thank you for these amazing words

  406. tarns says:

    Amazing. This brings such love, light and hope. Thank you.

  407. Ilene says:

    I too, am a mother of “that child” and struggled through every meeting with the TEACHER that I wish had known all this about my child! I always said during their complaining, do you think he saves this all for you??? That I don’t have to deal with this at home…tell me, tell me what we can do?!?!? I have had teachers tell me he was the worst child in their 40 years of teaching! I said I am sue this is not true, but if it is, dos this make you’re leaving on retirement better for you sharing this? Having HS teachers taking a vote in the class seeing who thinks my son was an idiot? It is amazing how these things still hurt me, I can only imagine how my adult son feels. Thanks for this article.

    • Kim says:

      I am so very grieved that your son was treated like that by his HS teachers…so terrible. I hope he has a good life now. As you know, teacher’s power over a student’s emotional well being (for a life time) can be tremendous, either for good or for harm.

  408. Bronwyn says:

    If only there was just one…..i have so many more of those children, there’s just not enough of me ☹

    • Alvin says:

      When I was a teacher, I specialized in those kids… I used to be one and thought I have something to offer AND believe that teaching is not learned (although you can learn) but something you ARE. 90% of your kids will learn regardless of who is teaching, I wanted to help the 10% that need a special teacher… and yes the 10% take up more than 10% of my time BUT all of your children are learning. They are learning the basics, they are learning compassion, they are learning tolerance, they are learning structure, they are learning that even adults get frustrated but that doesn’t mean they stop caring. School is a place to learn many things, things that will be important in life and many times understanding verbs or long division ISN’T the most important lesson of the day.

  409. Susanne K Petersen says:

    If all teachers worried this much, I would worry less. When we ask about That child we often just want to be reassured that everything is being done to help That child, and what we as parents to their little friends can do to help.

  410. samantha says:

    I only hope more troubled children have access to ‘that teacher’.. Fantastically written and sends a great message 🙂

  411. Amy says:

    My daughter is that child. I am that teacher. Beautiful! Beautifully written and so true.

  412. connie king says:

    Tears are flowing GOD BLESS CHILDREN AND TEACHERS no one knows what goes on behind closed doors sometimes its more important for that child to hear I LOVE YOU than to learn there ABC’S which in due time will come

  413. Leigh Ann perritt says:

    I am a special education teacher. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  414. Chris the Teacher says:

    I’m a high school teacher and it’s even tougher at that age. Now these kids are stronger, sometimes more than they know. They have lawyer-written behavior plans, and can’t be suspended without a hearing after so many days. Many parents (at least the ones who care enough to get that lawyer) desperately need our help to teach not just Math or Social Studies, but courtesy, caring and responsibility. And while parents of well behaved kids are justifiably upset that THAT kid is still in the classroom, we high school teachers know that the alternative for many of these kids is a lifetime of jail and public assistance.

  415. edykizaki says:

    hello and thank you, this is truly voicing something that I had never quite heard, in a very complete and accessible way… thank you so much for making this understanding available!!!!!! It’s a subject I kind of bypassed, my little guy got in trouble for being over aggressive on the playground a few times but it never got into the real trouble zone and he’s beyond it now, so I just didn’t focus much on this.. except the time we declined to press charges when he was “attacked” by another kid… no use criminalizing things that really are just kids working out behavior issues…my son was not too upset and said they became tolerant of each other again after the storm blew over, so why should we “press charges”. Anyway, if it needed follow up, the decent thing would be to sit down together first and try to work it out. The counselor was surprised and thanked us, vaguely making reference to “family” and “issues he’s dealing with”, it seems parents these days are quite “protective” of their “good” children… they are all good children, working things out.

  416. Bexiter says:

    What a wonderful and beautifully written piece that made me cry.

    I am fortunate that my happy, wilful children are those good children at school. They always receive top marks for behaviour and attitude toward others.

    That being said, they are both very shy and quiet at school. My eldest is in a class with a lot of unruly kids. She is also one of the youngest in her year. I think she often blends into the background. I think maybe they both do but this year my eldest has a wonderful teacher who has managed to take control of her class. She is very calm and lovely. She noticed that my daughter is also in need of attention and worried that in the past she has been left to her own devices a lot because she is so good and so quiet. I worry she, as a younger child, is getting left behind. Her teacher nearly made me cry by actually noticing and having enough time to care.

    I’m not comparing my situation to those of THAT child. That is truly a tough and heart rendering situation for those effected. I just wanted to say good teachers can be few and far between. What a tough job to do. Especially in schools these days when classes are huge and time is limited.

    Last year my daughter would come home from school down and unmotivated, feeling she lacked any skill or creativity. She felt she was not good at anything, despite her good reports. She does not shine out. She rarely gets rewarded. I worry about her. My youngest is a bit more plucky and not so young in her year. I hope she will shine out more. Who knows. A good teacher would.

    • Teresa says:

      I completely understand what you are saying as my grandaughter is going through the same thing as your daughter is. She is in a special needs class and is one if the children who behaves in class, but will barely speak, although she Is a chatterbox at home and elsewhere in the community. This is her 2nd year in a classroom with the same “that” child who seems to targeted my grandaughter, although she possibly is a problem for others as well. We completely feel empathy for this little girl and understand that she has something she is dealing with and something that needs a lot of time and attention.
      But so does my grandaughter. She acts out at home after the school day is done, by throwing things, screaming, just general pretty bad behavior. In the mornings she cries about going to school, although can often times say that school is fun. She is now telling her mother as she tries to tlalk herself into going t9 school that “Suzie Q” will be nice to me today…she is my friend…she will like my pants! So at the age of 4 1/2 she is having to set aside her own needs and have empathy for a another child who is perhaps more disabled than she is. She somehow thinks it is her responsibility to make this child like her, thinking perhaps it is something about her that is warranting this aggressive behavior….ie., her pants aren’t’t right?
      I find this a little sad and want more for my grandaughter. She is on the autism spectrum , having SPS and has already gone through a lot to get where she is today. She is the child of a single mother, couldn’t stand or walk until she was 3 and there are many things that she still struggles with physically and academically. Although we have seen great progress in areas, her main concern seems to be survinvg each day without getting pushed to the ground, having a chair on top of her, shoved into a wall on the playground….not good things for a child with SPD. The teacher of course, doesn’t reveal anything about the other child other than she is working on it and there needs to be empathy for that child as my grandaughter has “more”, although I know that she has had a single, unemployed, stressed mama for 4 years! I don’t apologize for not wanting my grandaughter to fall between the cracks in order to save this other child. Both have needs that need to be addressed equally. How do I adjust my thinking? I have great empathy for “that” child. I just don’t want my grandaughter growing up to be a “victim”! silently taking abuse?

  417. Becky says:

    Too right. And this isn’t just appropriate for kinder aged kids. I used to teach in secondary school and found exactly the same thing. Things THAT kid needs is often a bit of compassion, rather than just another angry adult making him feel bad. Thank goodness for teachers like you.

  418. boatgirl says:

    Thank you for being so caring. I would have loved for my “THAT CHILD” to have had a teacher half as kind.

  419. Kay says:

    Wonderful and what every parent needs to hear.

  420. Katie says:

    This is my child’s teacher.
    So much of this is us… And every line is how my childs teacher would, and does respond. Thank you Mrs. R!

  421. Karen says:

    I don’t usually comment on these.. But this post is beautifully written… ALL children are OUR children… And our responsibility to teach.. No matter how they come to us… It’s important to remind folks of that fact from time to time… I am a school psychologist and I know first hand how hard teachers work… Kudos!!