Role Models-More on the “Problem Child”

What happened between us that erased so quickly his volatile behavior and transformed him into a positive force? I was fully present with him, he felt my respect and regard, I listened carefully to what he was saying and then confirmed what I heard him say. Also, my responses to him and what he felt, assured him a relationship of trust and mutuality. Finally, my candid response “sure!” when he asked to return to his class nailed it all.   

This is “genuine dialogue” between equals even if I stood feet taller than him and held all the power. Fear may have stood between us at the very beginning of our meeting, but our few minutes of silence and just looking at each other took that away. I have to believe that my look of acceptance eliminated any fear of me he may have had. Nothing but a little space stood between us. I intended this and he experienced this.

What would have been gained had I conveyed my authority and power over him? Fear would have ruled his behavior and even his anger and what might this have resulted in?

When I was first informed that the principal was bringing a troubled child to me I immediately made myself open to anything that might take place including a very frightened child. Most importantly, I made myself present. What better way to meet the unknown?

When his teacher came to me two hours later she was remarkably open to what I had to say. It was a very receptive moment for her and other teachers sitting around the table. I explained that my making myself present and showing respect for him as a person set up the environment between and around us. It also had to be made clear that nothing I did was performance, but was real, real to me and real to him. Anything less would have turned the environment toxic between us.

His apologizing to his teacher and students suggests a possibility to me. I may have touched his “self.” I believe our “self” loves and is the best of what we are. If true, I accessed his “self” and he responded by being his “self.”   Sy 

Author: Sy Ogulnick

Sy Ogulnick received a BA from UCLA, Teacher’s Credential from Los Angeles Board of Education and completed phase I (Master’s portion) in a Doctor of Behavioral Science program at California Coast University. Sy leased and operated a summer day camp in LA. He and his wife then purchased virgin wilderness land in Northern CA, where they built and operated a coed summer camp. They moved to Las Vegas, NV, and purchased, built and operated a community children’s program for families staying in a major resort casino in Las Vegas. They have created programs for children nationwide that employed many people and in the process developed successful training programs for personnel. This led Sy to lecture on how to train staff and the creating of community within the workplace. Sy was then invited to speak at professional conferences on how best to hire and train employees, which led to his becoming a consultant in the art of improving relationships in a work environment and eventually to his epiphany that “Leaders are the primary problem and the answer to the personnel issues that arise in the workplace.” Sy has written numerous papers on the subject of interpersonal relationships, leadership and power. He has lectured throughout the United States, has been interviewed by the media and has appeared on many radio and TV talk shows

3 thoughts on “Role Models-More on the “Problem Child””

  1. You placed yourself in a horizontal relationship with the child…probably something he had never before experienced with an adult. It totally disarmed him and gave him reason to let go of his anger. He felt powerless. His despair manifested itself as defiance to authority. I’ve had the opportunity to observe this phenomenon in my own work with children. This nurturing of the “self” in children was something I developed through my relationship and work with the author.

    1. I experienced this “horizontal relationship” with Sy as a six year old boy. I came home from Soccer practice and Sy was talking with my father, a dentist who hired Sy to help with his staff. The way Sy spoke with me was different than any other adult I had met. He stopped what he and my father were talking about and listened to me in a way that made me feel heard and an “equal” for that moment. That made a huge impression on me and I strive to recreate that in the work I do with kids.

      1. Sy visited my home and office quarterly for over 20 years conducting “formal” communication seminars for my staff and informally communicating with me and my family over dinner the night before our office seminars. The impact he had on all of us was enormous. I’m a pediatric dentist by profession and was able to create that “horizontal relationship” with my staff, my family and the parents in my practice – but most importantly I was able to establish that with so many of my patients. Some of them were very young…but I was able to establish trust because they seemed to intuitively understand that we were both on the same side and both trying to achieve a common goal. I owe the success of my practice to the level of communication I was able to establish with Sy’s guidance. He once said that we have no earthly idea of the impact we have on those around us. I truly believe that.

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