PARENT QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY BOB ZIEGLER, LCSW

What is it like to come to a therapeutic school like The Harris School?

Let’s face it; no one wants to enroll their child in a school like The Harris School. Unlike a fancy prep school with major parent boosters or bumper stickers declaring parental pride in making the honor roll, coming to our school can feel like a defeat. That feeling is often what finally brings a child to our school, the feeling that he is being defeated in other schools, despite the best efforts of the parents.

My child has been misbehaving for a long time. Is there hope that he can learn to respond to the world in a different way?

Problematic behaviors are generally caused by the intersection of two things: temperament and environment. We are all born with a general temperament, a way in which we react to the world that seems hard-wired. Some babies are fussy and irritable from the beginning, while other babies are placid and good-natured. This inborn temperament dictates how we respond to the world and also how the world responds to us. Over time we learn to interact based upon our feelings and the effect our actions have on the environment.

Why does my child react more aggressively and seem more reactive than other children I’ve observed?

Aggression, be it physical or verbal, is a normal part of a child’s development. We’ve all experienced the “terrible two’s” - or in my experience the “terrible three’s” - that lovely period in a child’s development where he tries on different ways of responding to frustration. This can manifest as spitting, lashing out, running away…the list is long and known to parents everywhere. Some kids are temperamentally more reactive or aggressive than others - they are just wound more tightly from birth.