I’m wanting to put this down here so that I can just walk away from it over the next 2 weeks.
It’s not that anything HORRIBLE happened but it seems to me that it’s a lack of knowledge…..or, it could be that everyone was tired and emotional. But my responsibilities lie with the little one in my charge and I have the honor of standing up for him until he can stand for himself.
My biggest issue with what happened yesterday is the misunderstanding of what was really going on.
I believe children want to do their best and if for some reason they are acting in a way that doesn’t fit the situation……we, as adults, should be asking ourselves “what’s going on under the surface?”
Children want to please, they want to succeed and so often their “negative” or “inappropriate” behaviours are a result of their insecurities and anxieties over a situation that they can’t figure out, control or succeed at.
If our first response was not one of frustration or assumed disrespect, I believe that so many tense situations with our kids could be dissipated before the kids got stuck in fight or flight mode.
Siah was sad and overwhelmed and running away from those feelings and emotions. The harder people tried to force him to face those feelings, on his own…..the harder he dug his heels in. The moment that I joined him, in his feelings, and helped him to carry and process those feelings is the very moment that his defences started to come down.
This is not something that is solely applicable to Siah….this works for every child.
- Believe that children want to succeed.
- Believe that children want to please.
- Know that something else is going on, if they are acting contrary to those two beliefs.
- Attempt to determine the cause of the anxiety or anger
- Empathize with the child ( you don’t have to fix the situation, validate their feelings and check in with the child to make sure they feel understood and that you have the correct read on the situation)
I have found that this works almost 100% of the time to dissolve anger and anxiety.
It’s almost impossible to work through anything or to teach a child when they are in fight/flight mode. And anxiety in children often presents as anger.
Anger is usually a secondary emotion to fear or sadness and usually presents when a child is feeling out of control.
Empathy and empowerment are two of the most critical tools when working with children, in my opinion.
As adults, it’s our responsibility to work with the children and to adjust to their needs and deficits while continuing to teach and encourage in those areas of deficit.
They are the vulnerable and needy. We need to put their needs first.
I believe that there may have been a personal desire to be in the assembly which may have prompted personal feelings of anxiety for missing a special event. But…..if the focus had been on why Siah was struggling and not on “just getting him back to the assembly”….the entire situation could have gone down very differently.
Think of a tug of war over a canyon….with the child on one side and an adult on the other….the canyon is the event or idea that is causing the anxiety…..the harder the adult pulls the child, the harder the child will pull back trying to remain in a place of safety. They will quickly lose all ability to reason and rationalize as they struggle to find a place of safety. If the rope is laid down and the adult crosses over to the child, they can stand together on the edge of the cliff and talk about the issue without the fear of being pulled into it. Once the adult lays the rope down, there is nothing for the child to be struggling against. They may be SO terrified that they don’t realize the rope has been laid down and it may take a moment to help calm them enough to see that……but it’s SO MUCH easier to do that beside them, then across the canyon.
Siah did go in and sing “What a Wonderful World” and I’m so glad he did. He sat with me at the back of the assembly and enjoyed the videos and the music. At one point, he leaned over to me and said, “Something good always comes from something bad…..the good thing in this bad situation is that I’ll get to meet a new principal, right mom?”
In the middle of his stress and anxiety and internal chaos……he’s still looking for the silver linings. I love that.
Our children will struggle – that’s a given – and some more than others, but it’s our job to stand beside them and to help guide them through, until they are strong enough and confident enough to do it on their own. It’s a privilege and honor to be able to be there for them, especially the more vulnerable ones.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…..not necessarily Siah’s particular situation but this idea…..this idea that children inherently want to please and that we can help or hinder the situation with our actions and reactions. Is this a foreign concept to you?
I’d challenge you to try it then next time you come up against a child who seems defiant…..it will blow your mind!