Wouldn’t It Be Great to Be a Kid again?
Hmmm, if you are a kid, the answer is probably not so much. It seems grownups have only minimal knowledge of what kids are feeling and experiencing. Some recent research indicates some things that kids wish their parents and teachers knew about them.
Most kids are already really trying hard. They want to please the grownups that surround them. So telling kids to try harder or practice more and they will get it- whatever the it is- piano, reading or math. Well that really doesn’t help much. And telling kids to just try harder just adds to their frustration and, truthfully, it makes them angry.
Grownups think they know the kids. Well the kids know us too. They can tell by our facial expressions, our body language and our response time to events. They want us to be happy. And when they think we are not, they are concerned that somehow they had something to do with it. If an adult is in a bad mood, it probably wouldn’t hurt to let the child/student know that your mood has nothing to do with them and that you still love/care about them. Because kids worry that they caused the bad mood and you won't love them any more.
Kids, like adults, want to be trusted. They want our first, second and maybe third response be that we believe what they tell us about an event. So when something breaks and a kid says he didn’t do it, believe him until you are sure that there is another cause for the issue. And maybe it really was just a plain accident just like adults accidently break a glass even when they are “being careful”.
Last week I saw a sign, it said, “I wish you would stop texting me every half hour, I told you I would be five minutes late.”. Ok, pretty funny. But kids experience that kind of dishonesty all the time and they wish we would just tell them the truth. If you are going to be a no-show and you already know that, tell them the truth. Don’t put them off for an hour or whatever and then announce you aren’t coming. Ditto about someplace you promised to take them. If it is not happening, let them know when you know.
Kids know when adults are hypocrites. Grownups are all over them for too much time spent on electronics. But have you ever watched adults at dinner in a restaurant? How many of them have their phones out when they are supposed to be enjoying the company of their companion at the table. Yet we give kids grief for doing the same thing. Set a standard and stick to it. It is fine for kids to have a different standard from adults, but they need to have some leeway as well.
We all want to give our kids multiple opportunities to do everything. But what adult doesn’t treasure a free weekend morning or evening when nothing is scheduled? Kids are often not in control of their own lives. It is one of the worst things about being a kid. In our rush to give children a broad life experience we don’t often realize that kids need “me time” as well as grownups do and may just need some time to just “be”. Let’s let them have that.
I always think that the true sign of love is when someone loves you just as you are without the footnote. As in, I love you if only… and there it comes. If only, you would lose a few pounds, if only you would work out more, if only, you would dress better. You get the drill and so do the kids. There used to be a time when we taught elementary teachers to get unruly kids to behave by saying, “I like how Tania took out her book and is ready to work.”. That is supposed to send a message to the kids who are not ready to work that they should be like Tania. Siblings are different from each other even if raised in the same house and even when they share the same biological parents. Yet sure enough, one kid will be the model for the others. One of the worst things we say to kids is, “why can’t you be like …?” Well maybe it is because he or she isn’t that other child. Children, just like adults, want to be loved and valued for who they are, just as they are. We need to value them for who they are, just as we want to be valued the same way.
Adults often have the language and the power to speak up when these kinds of things happen to them. Children don’t. We need to listen to what they are saying with their facial expressions, their behavior, and, yes, their words. It really isn’t all that hot to be a kid again.