It’s that time of year ….Parent/Teacher Conferences! As a teacher, I valued the time spent with caregivers to share information about their learner, while gaining insight into my young student’s life at home.
Some parents were visibly anxious during these meetings, and no matter how carefully I chose my words, there were tears. I always had a box of tissues handy. For some, this was the first time learning that their precious 6 or 7-year-old was having difficulty in the world of “school”.
It was my job to help a caregiver get past the pain of struggle, and look forward with support and a plan to get their child where they needed to go – and to avoid comparing their child to others. No matter where they “ranked” in the classroom, I wanted my students to be proud of their hard work and effort that would bring them continued gains. It was my job to help the caregiver see the unique gifts their child offered even in the midst of struggles. For children who struggle, comparing themselves to others can be a recipe for disaster. These are the children who will shut-down, become class clowns, and begin avoiding the hard work that makes them feel defeated. IT was my job to make sure these children were challenged enough to make important gains, while not overwhelming them to the point of defeat. I needed their caregivers to be on our side, to be cheerleaders in this game of school – where so many children’s gifts get lost as they try to be like someone else – to please their parents, or teachers.
One of the saddest parent/teacher conferences I had, was when I was teaching Kindergarten. I had a child who was lagging behind their peers in many ways, yet expressing themself through Art was a strength. They loved creating. In discussing this with the parent, I was dumbfounded when they told me that the pictures the child were bringing home were terrible, and they ripped them up and put them in the trash. They were not worthy of being hung on the refrigerator. My heart broke for this child, yet knowing this made me work harder to help this young child find their bright light.
All children will shine if we let them do it in their way, in their time – with support and guidance from those who love them best. Don’t waste time and energy worrying about how your child compares to anyone else – don’t give your child the message that they should be like someone else – love them as they are. For in that love your child will become the best version of themself.
The past few weeks in our country has raised the issue once again, of the effect social media can have on people. Those who struggle with mental health issues are finding support to take hatred to the furthest extreme. I don’t know what the answer to such hate is, but there is much we can do to protect ourselves, and our children from hatred spewed out on social media…. keep kids off it. It is an addiction that is having severe negative effects on the fabric of our society. I can’t imagine the effect it is having on developing brains of children.
There are those who will argue that technology is here to stay so we need to learn to use it well. And I agree, so if you can’t/won’t teach your child how to use it – which in my mind means monitoring often and being allowed to be on all their social media sites with them – which to me would be pretty labor intensive – then don’t give them access. OR you could argue that it could be used as a teaching tool to expose kids to differing viewpoints – but there is so much hate out there right now – are you ready and willing to teach young kids about that?? Wouldn’t it be nice if all social media came with a built-in mental health advisor??
But the bottom line – how much time is social media taking away from real-time interaction with those we love? How much is being on a device interfering with forming strong secure attachment with your children – which in turn help to create emotionally healthy adults? AS a parent/caregiver…..how much time are you NOT really tuned in to a child because you are texting, scrolling, etc. Even as an adult I am put off when those I love are distracted from being present in what we are doing – when suddenly a person texting is more important than our real life engagement?… AND I AM GROWN UP AND MATURE….(sometimes) – what is this doing to kids??
Think about it – tune in to real people in real-time – and tune out the hatred that is being spewed across social media. We will all be better for it.
I spent some time with my daughter and her family today. When I first arrived at their home, my five-year old Granddaughter gave me a quick hello and then disappeared into another room. A few minutes later, she reappeared and handed me a paper folded in half. It was a picture of the two of us – out for a walk. She explained that I had my purple sweater wrapped around my waist. We are both smiling – there is green grass and blue sky. I thanked her and placed it in my purse so I wouldn’t forget it. She was pleased. It is now on my refrigerator; a place of honor for what it represents. It reminds me of the simple pleasures. It reminds me of an innocence that gives freely and quietly. No strings attached. Simple, quiet, easy – yet in my mind – it speaks volumes. Thank you Z. I love you.
Spend some time with a kid if you can. If you listen and pay attention they will always remind you of the important things in life.
This week I have been doing some guided meditation and realize the power of intent. As we grow up, we often lose track of our desires. In the business of children, jobs, social activity, and just being a “grown-up” with all the responsibility that entails, it’s easy to lose our dreams and lose our self.
Meditation is a great tool to help us reconnect with ourself, and it’s a valuable tool for children as well. It helps keep us centered and stay connected to our body, mind and spirit. There is a lot of research that supports meditation for improved health – both physical and mental.
The focus of one of the meditations I recently practiced was on intention. What a great thing to teach our children. We should all have dreams and desires, but without being intentional about those dreams, they can become fairy-tales.
When I was teaching, I was in my element. Each day was filled with effortless intention, as I was doing what I felt I was always meant to do. Now that I am retired I find the same effortless satisfaction in writing. However through my meditation, I realized I haven’t been very intentional about it!! So, I have created my best writing space, which meant a few hours of thought about how that would look, sorting, organizing and cleaning out. It’s something I should have done long ago! It’s my own sacred space. Does your child have their own space that helps to support their desires and dreams?? Namaste.
I recently went to the movie, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, a documentary on the life of Fred Rogers. It left me feeling both uplifted, and sad. It was uplifting to be reminded of the work that Fred Rogers did that had such a positive impact on so many children and families, yet sad that there aren’t more like him today. Sad because there are “Mr Roger’s ” doubters; people who blamed his work for creating children who are entitled. I believe these folks don’t understand the depth of his work, children, and the strong need we all have to be loved “just for who we are.”
Fred Rogers provided a voice for children, and understood that they are impacted by things that happen in their small world, as well as things that happens in the bigger world. He gave them a platform to grapple with whatever it was they were feeling. He understood that children need to feel that there will always be an adult in their corner, and that no matter what they are feeling, someone will be there to listen and help them through. His message was always one of care, love and respect for children. He knew the importance of listening to these young voices. We could all use some “Mr Rogers” in our world today.