Thursday, December 12, 2013

Affirmation From a 2-Year-Old

These children amaze me daily. Nothing is better, as a teacher, than it to be affirmed that I am doing it right in most ways, that I am having a positive impact upon them. 

Often, it comes years later as they do well in school and show a commendable level of character. Or, from tidbits clients relay about compliments their child[ren] receive on their behavior or abilities.

Here at school, affirmation usually comes in the most unexpected situations and forms.

Shadows. She doesn't have a black eye.
But this pic so captures her solemn moments, 

when usually she's a laughing comedian.
Little Miss H, 25 months, suddenly burst around the corner of the island from the block area, full of drama...wailing, crying, tears rolling, holding her hand to her head.
"I hurrrrrt myyysellllllf!" 
"Hmmmm....should you be more careful?" I ask, kneeling down as she runs into my arms.
"Let's see," I say, pulling her hand down. I see nothing. No blood, no bump, no redness.
"Shhhh..." I wait for her to comply, getting her act together. When she looks me in the eye, tears controlled and calm, I say, "There's no blood. I know it hurts, but you'll be fine." She looks at me as if she doesn't trust what I'm saying. "Would it help if I kissed it?"
She thinks on it. Quietly, "Yes."
I give a quick peck to her forehead, let go and stand up.
A look of total indignation moves as if in slow motion onto her face, her little body gathers itself up tight.
"NOT THEEEERRRRE...," she says loudly, leaning forward slightly and jabbing herself in the head, "HERE!!!!"
I am so trying not to burst out laughing. She looks soooo MAD that I didn't hit the proper location.
"I am SO sorry. Would you like me to try again?" I say solemnly. Again, she looks as if she doesn't trust me to do it right. She just looks me in the eye, assessing. I can see the little wheels in her mind turning over the situation. I simply wait.
"Yes." She even gives a little nod almost to herself when she says it, as if she's convinced of her decision.
I kneel down and gather her up again, ask her to show me EXACTLY where her boo boo is, and give it a big ole long smacking kiss. I sit back on my heels with her still in my arms and wait a few seconds. "Now, does it feel any better?"
She looks down, brow furrowed, the wheels once again turning, assessing. Eventually she looks up at me, seeming a little surprised. "Yes."
I let her go, waiting for her, this time, to make the decision that our interlude is concluded. As she takes a step, heading away from me back to her play, very quietly I hear, "Thank you." 

Why I consider this exchange with a child who just recently turned 2 SO important:

  • She immediately took responsibility for her situation, it wasn't the fault of some inanimate object causing her to get hurt, this centers her sense of power/control
  • She immediately SOUGHT OUT my comfort and assistance, took control, rather than simply going dramatic and waiting for me to arrive, or calling out to me to come to her, acting the victim
  • She knew she had a voice, she was able to clearly communicate her situation, wants and needs
  • She was able to get her emotions under control VERY quickly
  • When she didn't get her needs met to her satisfaction, she let it be known
  • She deliberated before making her decisions, even in an emotional situation
  • When she made a decision, she stuck with it
  • She used proper pronouns and grammar, which for 2, that's pretty remarkable
  • She volunteered a "thank you" at the end

These types of exchanges occur all the time, but this one struck me as simply covering all the bases, because as their teacher I work so hard from the moment they enter my domain to:

  • Let them own their responsibility, power and control
  • Allow them to assess situations, and source needed resources
  • Let them own their voice
  • Guide and promote their ability to self-regulate
  • Stand up for their needs and be clear on their wants
  • Think critically, analyze, be decisive and hold them to their decisions, not allow them to be wishy-washy with snap decisions they come to regret and try to change
  • Use language as a tool to be heard and get results
  • Be polite and considerate of others, no matter what the situation

It's simply the way the environment is composed, our philosophy of being, passed around and melded into our lives here. Personality plays such a huge role, along with their home environment, but they are here 40-50 hours per week, so the school's influence on these children is significant. 

As she walked away, I gave a big sigh, and thought, "There goes one of my successes, and she's only just begun." 
Tags: child, care, daycare, development, toddler, toddlers, behavior, discipline, language, learning, communication, parenting, 

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