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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET troubling feelings they’re experiencing. Helping them to thrive involves paying attention to both. • Understanding the reasons for those skill deficits and emotions means having to think about the mix of a youngster’s constitutional nature (what we sometimes call “hard wiring”), the family situation into which she was born and lives, and difficult experiences she’s had dur- ing her childhood. • The nature of early relationships has a huge impact on how kids learn and grow. If a child’s early and ongoing connections haven’t been filled with trust and ease, a focus on positive relationship building is going to be central. • When a child is struggling at home or school, adults often react in ways that make things worse, even though that’s not their intention. Changing those patterns is another element behind successful intervention. • Parenting is hard work—especially parenting in the face of life chal- lenges or a child whose medical situation, constitutionally based vul- nerabilities, or temperament makes her harder than usual to care for. Finding ways to partner with and support the parents of hard-to-help kids is often an essential piece to moving things forward. • All kids have a core need to be loved and appreciated. When things aren’t going well, a mix of support, affection, and optimism can go far in setting the stage for change. Gabrielle’s teacher, Julia, believes strongly in these ideas and frequently uses them to come up with thoughtful and compassionate approaches to all of the kids in her care. That’s why she’s highly respected by her colleagues and why so many parents feel good about dropping their children off with her each day. Even the best teachers can feel overwhelmed by particularly challenging kids, however. That’s what has happened here. When a child’s difficulties leave teachers feeling as concerned as Julia and her team are, it doesn’t mean that the progression from reflection to action has lost its usefulness. It does suggest that we’ll need to look even more closely and think more deeply before figuring out what mix of strategies (and, at times, outside supports) might make a difference. It also tells us that if possible, finding a way to partner successfully with a child’s family will be an impor- tant piece of the puzzle. Looking more closely at a child’s experience isn’t always as easy as it sounds. It requires pulling together a range of information about what’s 6 Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL