Sometimes I realize how quickly things can change. Everything is going well, until it’s not. Before I took the Foundations 1 Course, I remember having many conversations with educators and administrators about students in my classroom. I often made comments, such as,
- “I never saw that response coming.”
- “He/she changed so quickly.”
- “Who could have predicted that punch (or substitute “punch” with hit, kick, pinch, bite, etc.)?”
I used to truly believe that there was nothing I could have done differently to change the outcome. The child just reacted in this way. In retrospect though, I wonder if a change in response, a change in tone, or even just a change in idea, would have changed the outcome.
I think back now to this experience from a recent Friday morning.
There was the potential here for things to go badly for any number of reasons.
- Turn-taking is hard.
- Hula-hooping was a challenge, and when meeting with less success, some kids wanted to keep trying again and again.
- The line-up kept growing so there was more waiting to do.
- When a child is dysregulated, trying to address the problem and/or offer another choice is not always well-received.
But sometimes, a small suggestion from a friend can make all the difference. For kids speak in different ways than adults do to other kids. They don’t tend to get hung up on long explanations, and often seem genuine in the suggestions they share. This is exactly what happened that Friday, and in minutes, everything changed for the better.
- The child that was becoming frustrated moved away from the hula-hooping, and onto a less challenging activity in a much smaller group.
- The opportunity to roll, laugh, and have fun with some best friends made a difference.
- The change was never seen as a punishment, but instead, as a preferable option.
That Friday, this little girl changed another child’s trajectory. I don’t know if she realized it at the time, or if she just did what comes so very naturally to her. She made a difference though, and a situation that could have ended in tears and confrontation, ended in squeals of laughter and delight. This makes my heart happy, and reminds me that it is possible to see the stress, respond to it, deescalate the problem, and change the outcome. If a six-year-old can do this, so can an adult.Dr. Jennifer Flinn@MrsJFlinn
Going forward, as I watch our children, I may be doing so through a slightly modified, possibly clearer lens. What might I have missed in the past, and how can I respond differently now? Could a little help from a student be what ultimately makes the biggest difference? Once again, I’m reminded of Stuart Shanker’s profound words that are worth a little extra thought at any time of the year.