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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

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Not liking a youth

Help me think through this: One of the kids in the group I work with I find that I really don't like! I have always liked the kids, but this one person (15) I just can't see past the dislike. How does one separate the way one feels from the way one SHOULD feel? I worry too about the impact this will have on their aims and expectations in the program. Thanking you for your ideas!


I have worked in the field for 20 years. There will always be a person whom you don't like as much as the others, maybe even dislike. That is normal, though, because we are human and we are not designed to like everybody all tbe time. Here are two items that I think about when I am in a situation where someone (like a client) rubs me the wrong way.

1) Is this client testing? Does he/she trust me so much, that he/she is making it appear like they want me to dislike them, just to see how I am going to react?

2) All clients need to be treated the same. In fact, if I have a client that rubs me the wrong way, I will often go out of my way to spend time with him, that is, offer a game of cards or something. I am often surprised at the kid when there are no peer influences.

Mister Home Chef

Well this is a really good question. i just want to reassure you that this is very normal and happens to alot of us in the field. You will find that you will come across a youth that just rubs you the wrong way. However this is a wonderful learning opportunity and allows you to dig deep inside. What I mean is ask yourself why you don't like that particular youth, this youths behaviours may be a trigger for you. When you can identify these triggers and then go back and work with this youth, I will tell you right now that this will make you a better Child and Youth Care worker. A Youth Worker who can identify his or her own triggers is a very effective one in my opinion.

Hope this helps
Dave Zimmerman

You cannot separate the way that you feel from the way that you SHOULD feel.

What you may try is to explore what it is about yourself that causes you to feel the way that you do towards this person.

"You must be the change that you hope to see." – Ghandi.

Clayton Ellis

Hi Marcel,

First of all, don't beat yourself up because you don't like this individual.

We don't like everyone we meet in life, so why should we expect to like every young person we work with? Not liking this individual does not necessarily prevent you from being able to do your job. You can still feel compassion and empathy for this person. You can still maintain a professional attitude and approach. Accept that you don't like this individual. Think about why that is. It really is true that the things we don't like about someone else are often the things we don't like about ourselves. Check in with yourself and your team mates frequently to make sure you're not over or under reacting toward this young person because of your personal feelings.

Try to get rid of the notion that you "should" like every young person that you work with. Bottom line is, you won't. Believing that you should will only lead to feelings of guilt, incompetence, and frustration, which are bound to get in the way of providing the best possible care for the kids you work with. Look at this as a great learning experience, and an important step in your professional growth. We've all been there, or will be there, at one time or another.

Kim Nic

Disliking a youth seems to be on a personal level. I too worked with youth I had problems with and I found it to be more on a personal level. We all in the field find that we seem to have favorites, but as pros we cannot let our personal feelings get in the way we treat the youth in our care. There is good in all youth in our care. If you need to, talk to other workers – they can help you work this issue out.

Good luck and take care.


Hi Marcel,

Good question!! I have definitely worked with youth who I have outright disliked at the community centre where I work. I have found three things help me overcome these feelings.

1. Turn the negatives into positives. One teen I was working with was negatively influencing the others to do bad things (break into lockers, bully people etc.). I went and thought about each quality that drove me nuts, then found the positive in it. This kid was a natural leader and was able to connect with many at-risk youth. I pulled the kid aside and told them my observations and helped the youth create a peer mentorship program that she created, organized and wrote and received a grant for.

2. Get another staff to connect with them. Focus on your strengths! Let organic bonding happen where it can.

3. Take your time. Often I find that over time I am able to find shared similarities and we are able to create a bond. Time works for everything!!

Hope these suggestions help in some way :-)

Vancouver, BC

Well first off give yourself a break, we are human too. Secondly what is it about this student that you dislike? Plus this is going to happen, and my suggestion is to look at yourself first and try to be aware of what is triggering you and why.

Just a thought I am sure you will get a lot of feedback on this topic.

Good Luck, and take care.

Kelly House
Child/Youth Care Worker

Try forcing yourself to be exceptionally nice to this person, it could cause a change in their behaviour. This worked when i was a tour guide.

Keith Martin

Hello Marcel, courageous posting!!! I admire you already. Anyway here is what I do when I find I run into someone who drives me nuts...often it is Thom (Love ya man!) I ask myself a series of quick questions to help bring me back to a place where I am more useful:

1. What is the behavior of the child I don't like?(Important to note it is not the child's spirit you dislike but a behavior- if it is the entire child then quit the field)
2. When have I done the same/similar behavior myself? (Important not to lie to yourself at this stage)
3. Why was it important for me to do this behavior? (understanding context and meaning)
4. What perk did I get from that behavior? (understanding possible need of behavior)
5. What was the best thing someone could have said or done with me to help me stop being that way? (becoming useful)

It is important to note also that if you can't come up with a time that you did the same behavior you are probably not digging deep enough so don't rush the process. I am excluding behaviors like homicide, or fire setting, or sexual assault.

I agree with you that any behavior or anything that you are in reaction to, you can not manage and therefore will not be therapeutic in your intent or result. I find if I can situate myself as close to the same behavior as possible when I did the same thing then my understanding of the importance of that behavior shifts to being more relevant and necessary. I often shift to seeing that particular distasteful behavior as necessary or essential for their survival or existence in the world....for now, then that's when you come in :0)

Ernie Hilton
P.S. again a courageous posting!!

Hello Marcel,

I find that trying to see their strengths and the positive behaviours that they have shown have helped me. I try and treat each kid the same and do the same things with them as I would do with the kids I like. This usually gives me the opportunity to build a realtionship with them and helps me to see their potential. I also find that looking at their history and remember what they have been through helps me better understand why they are the way they are. I know it's difficult working with other people's children and trying to undo some of the negatives that others have created.

I hope this will help you.

Please don't feel alone with this issue. It happens to us all, if you are in the field long enough.

Sometimes what is happening is that we seeing parts of ourselves in others -- they are being mirrors for us -- some times we see parts of ourselves that we feel really good about, and sometimes its parts of ourselves that still need some work.

Using this philosophy, one could be grateful that this youth is giving you this opportunity for personal growth.

And, if it's your Friday, and you are feeling pretty done with the whole thing, see if you can't rotate with another staff person.

We all have those challenges/opportunities in our lives. The question is, how will you choose to handle it? As a role model for the youth you work with, how will you share your story and what you learned from it?

It's all in the point of view... good luck, and please share with us how this plays out.

Enjoy the journey,

Hi Marcel,

I would concur with Ernie Hilton regarding self examination. Youth are such dynamic teachers aren't they, always a pleasure once I get past what the hell it is for me to look at.

That being said I have some curiosity about your supervisor and whether you access them when stuff is up for you? I am also curious about debriefing with your co-facilitator? These are all strategies I employ when doing the work.

I also wanted to comment on the idea of "the way one SHOULD feel." I am not sure how we should feel when clearly we feel something else...hmmnn

I wonder about the judgment and how it might get in the way of "meeting" this youth? What would happen if you just noticed your dislike and opened yourself to the possibility of seeing them anyway. I have found this has the potential to be a profound opportunity to begin to create relationship.

We are all students and teachers to each other.

Marjorie McQuarrie
Child & Youth Counsellor
Native Healing Centre


Good day to you. I think my ego got in the way when I thought about not liking someone. Maybe it was a youth, a co-worker, or a supervisor. For me, it probably translated itself into behaviors that were not really growth producing. I knew not other peoples lives or experiences yet I mostly likely judged the personal them. This imperfect human journey is tough sometimes.

Thanks for helping me reflect.


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