Michelle Whitehead

Finding Your Inner Superhero

I took an entry psychology course in college and was instantly hooked; I knew I wanted to be in that field. Once I got my degree, I decided to cannonball into the field and got an amazing job working with children with special needs. I didn’t realize how challenging this would be, I was so driven by making a difference in these kiddos lives that I didn’t take the time to think about myself. Working with children is difficult in general but working with children with special needs (some of them with severe conditions) required so much strength, not only physically but mentally.

Here are the top 5 things I learned about working with these amazing kiddos-

1 – How to handle stress – I worked with children, sometimes multiple at a time, who had behavioral troubles. Their challenges included screaming, hitting, biting, throwing, and somehow each of these children had the strength of The Incredible Hulk. I was so confident in myself initially; I had no idea what I was getting myself in to! I was extremely stressed out at the beginning, I felt like these children were too tough for me to handle. I started learning more techniques and day by day starting feeling more comfortable and proud of myself.  I went home with literal battle scars (bruises, scratches, etc.) but seeing even a slight improvement in their behavior was definitely worth it! Dealing with the classroom madness has definitely helped me learn how to breathe and relax… Even while a kiddo is screaming their head off!  

2 – Do not always expect consistency – Every child is unique, you cannot expect something from one kiddo and expect the same thing from another. This rule can also be applied to our jobs! Just because something worked for one guest, you can’t always assume that it will work for the next. I have learned how to keep on my toes and always look for multiple solutions to any problem.

3 – Having fun is crucial – When you’re working with children, special needs or not, you have to be goofy and make it fun! I’ve always been told that I still act like a child, so I was able adapt to this rule rather easily! Being told that you act like a child is not always a bad thing; I always take it as a compliment. Having fun is also crucial in your everyday life, it can definitely take an average day and make it into an awesome day. Be silly, smile more, and have fun!

4 – It’s all worth it – Looking at the big picture is always difficult, especially when you’re really challenging yourself! I feel so honored to be in my kiddo’s lives, I sincerely do think that I made an impact. Your experience with jobs and school also applies to this rule.  While it may be difficult, you’re walking out with so much more knowledge and have tons of new experience under your belt. You not only get to know about the job/subject, you get to find out a little bit more about yourself and how awesome you are too!

5 – Be proud of yourself – Being proud of yourself is an absolute must! Making it this far and overcoming all the hardships that you have endured definitely requires a pat on the back. Feel free to modestly gloat about your accomplishments, you deserve the praise!

I challenge all of you to take on number 3 and have fun during this Labor Day weekend! Do something to make yourself happy, and bonus points if you're the ultimate superhero and do something to make someone else happy! 

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