The capacity to perceive the positive in every child is critical. Part one of this article discussed the value of team building activities. Winding Trails in Farmington, Ct. offers a myriad of team building opportunities. Such activities often enable adults to perceive behaviors in children they normally may view as disruptive or challenging as strengths instead of weaknesses. How a parent or teacher perceives a child is quite important as the following example illustrates.
One young boy on the field trip took charge by assertively directing, organizing and motivating his team. While very animated, he was also quite impressive. His mother mentioned his passion for banter. Clearly his use of language was paying off during this challenge. She then asked his teacher if he talks this much at recess. He sternly responded yes then added, "Often too much." Zap. A positive became a negative. An impressionable and subservient parent may take this information and reprimand her son for talking too much at recess. (Can one really talk too much at recess?) This is dangerous. Imagine the same scenario but a different response. What if she had been told that her son's verbosity was a skill that would do him well in life; that it is indicative of him being a natural born motivator. Better yet, what if the child was told this?
Sadly, the "quiet" classroom" frequently continues to be viewed as the successful one. "Silent lunch' is a punishment given from time to time for "bad behavior." Silent lunch?? With the abundance of accessible research and studies confirming that young children not only need but also thrive, both socially and cognitively, in open-ended social settings, this is appalling. The opportunity to engage in spontaneous discussion over a meal with ones peers is critical to development, especially when the rest of the day is spent over worksheets and in teacher-directed activities. The practice of silent lunch is as absurd and offensive as the dunce cap and should be rendered extinct.
When told by the instructor on the field trip that he had broken one of the rules of the challenge, one student respectfully yet assertively challenged the technicality of the rule. Was this backtalk or self-assurance? Was it worthy of discipline or consideration? The instructor, recognizing the validity of the boy's assertion, allowed him to proceed. Visibly more self-assured the student went on to lead much of the activity. Some adults may have "punished" this child for questioning the "rules." The ability of the team leader to see this differently resulted in the child feeling successful, confident and proud.
"When we change the way we look at things the things we look at change."
For help on finding new perspectives when it comes to parenting and to children or to read this article in its entirety, visit, www.parentingwithnewperspectives.com