While teaching junior high I observed one of my students physically strike another boy who was developmentally delayed. An educational assistant responded with haste, and rapidly approached both boys with heightened emotions.
She proceeded to yell at the boy who had raised his hand asking, “Why would you hit him?”
His reply was simple,
“When someone hurts me, I hurt them back.”
After expressing her disappointment in him, she focused her attention on the other boy. Kneeling down to his level, she wrapped her left arm around him in an effort to provide comfort.
I was well aware of the chaotic home environment that the other boy came from, and knew that destructive behaviours were on full display in his home. When his feelings were hurt, he was likely never taught how to express his emotions in a healthy manner.
As the educational assistant continued to console the one boy I thought to myself, “Don’t both of these boys deserve to receive nurturing?
Every child enters the world pure and innocent. No infant will arrive with an internal desire to strike another human being.
We need to sit back and ask ourselves, “Why the behaviour?”
Hurt people hurt people.
And yes, they need love too.
Responding to outbursts with anger is not a proactive approach. Anger met with anger will always result in more anger. Compassion, however, has the potential to create a different outcome, and decrease the chances of a similar outcome occurring in the future.
Rather than automatically reacting, take a step back, have a conversation, and try to figure out what drives an individual’s behaviour in the first place.
We are quick to make judgments based on what our eyes show us.
My challenge: look deeper.