Children are people too...
Updated: Aug 13
First, and foremost, please know that I am not calling anyone out here as I am no exception to doing this, but I try to mindful of the two points that I make below as it is very important that we do so to help foster strong children who feel confident.
We need to remember that children are people too. This should go without saying, and I know this may be bothersome for some to read as they scoff at the title of this post and say, "Well of course they are!" But do we treat them this way...really? There are two main things I notice in the treatment of children, whether they are your students or your own kids.
One, we over-protect, over-compensate, and help them entirely way too much as if they were going to break. I understand fully that there is a lot of research out there stating things about the psyche of a child, and I am by no means a psychologist or expert, but I do know that this behavior towards them, in my experience, leads to entitlement, lack of self-confidence and above all, the diminished ability for children to problem-solve and deal with conflict on their own (whether it be an internal conflict of failing at something or external conflict with another child, adult, or with a parent). When we are there at their every beck and call we give them no opportunity to problem-solve on their own, or to build that self-assurance that they can handle things. Therefore, we nurture them towards neediness and the idea that we as adults are here to do everything for them; mainly because we feel that they can't. Soon the child begins to believe that they can't and then that feeling of I can't turns into I won't even try, and that becomes an even bigger problem. Children who refuse to try things, do not get the experience of exploration and failure which is such a necessity; especially in their younger years where the stakes of mistakes and failure are not as great as when they get older or become adults. Another side effect of this attitude towards our children or students is that they lose their respect for authority and misunderstand our help and over-supportiveness. With this learned helplessness comes entitlement, which is a result of an expectation. This is expectation is that they need not do anything because the adults or people of authority in their lives will do it for them. How does this harbor disrespect? It does so because the expectation is there. For example, a child needs to clean up or they throw a wrapper on the ground. The person of authority, or adult, may ask them why they haven't cleaned up or why they threw the wrapper on the floor. In my personal experience with some of my students, the answer has been a few of the following: "There is a janitor for that." "It is not my problem, someone else can clean it up." These responses are not the responses of misbehaved children. On the contrary, this is a learned behavior which they are simply exhibiting because the implicit direction that they have received for so long was just that, that someone else will take care of things for them.
Another thing that we do is we treat them as though they have no outside life from the one that we interpret, perceive and understand. A parent may have a wider angle than that of a teacher or vice versa depending on the child, but we still tend to all limit our view to just those things that we can see, and cease to remember that there is a world unknown to us inside their brains. Inside their minds, just like inside ours, is a world that is completely unique and filled with goals, fears, knowledge, perceptions, agendas, schedules, etc. This mindset that inhibits us from acknowledging that and treating them as though they don't come with their own emotions and thoughts that may differ from ours, makes us inflexible, impatient and not as understanding as we should be towards our kids and/or students. They have their own lives, activities, stressors, just as we do and each are following their own unique life journey and path. It is very difficult to step back and find patience deep within ourselves, in order to do this especially when we have our own agendas and responsibilities. We have to stop and think about that sometimes and give them that space in our classrooms and/or homes.