Children are amazing in so many different ways. Adults, especially educators, tutors, and parents, have so many stories to tell about their numerous interactions with children that attest to this statement. Some are positive anecdotes, while others are negative, and still others are simply hilarious.
But when adults do talk about kids, it’s usually in a “kids these days don’t even know…” kind of way. It’s as if adults have grown all too comfortable with thinking that they know more than kids and that, as a result, adults also know best when it comes to guiding kids in as many ways as possible.
This is not to say that every adult takes this perspective in their interactions with children. Just to be clear.
What it does say, though, is that perhaps we should work to take a different perspective in our interactions:
the child’s perspective.
Because when it comes down to it, this isn’t too hard to do. When you really think about it, adults and children experience the same range of emotions throughout the day, just in different ways and about different things.
For instance, a college student may be experiencing anger at his professor for grading him down on his final paper, while a third grader is experiencing anger because his teacher wouldn’t let him play a board game with his peers because he didn’t finish his spelling assignment in the morning. Both students are feeling angry, but one writes a strongly-worded email while the other throws their pencil across the room and yells “This is so unfair!”
That said, it is all too easy to misunderstand children. When their emotions and/or behaviors begin to escalate, adults feel the need to control them, in order to resolve the issue. Oftentimes, though, it’s much more beneficial to just let them feel.
First of all, when they do, they get to express themselves fully and unabashedly (which is something else I’m sure we as adults can relate to when we think about the catharsis we may feel after a “good cry” or screaming frustration into a pillow).
Secondly, if the child’s expression of emotion(s) isn’t the most appropriate, adults can use the situation as a teaching opportunity to open up a dialogue and reflect on what happened. That way, the child can more fully process their emotions, and then make a plan for what can happen the next time they feel that way.
Regardless of steps taken after the fact, we can all benefit from taking the child’s perspective. We must remember that they are experiencing new things all the time, things that we consider a normal part of everyday life. They are simply at a different point in their overall development. But that doesn’t mean we can forget what it was like to be a kid. In fact, I find this aspect to be one of the most wonderful in working with children. How magical it is to be able to spend time with children, and experience flashes of connection with one’s own childhood? It ultimately helps me empathize with children in their experiences, while also reminding me of some of the most exciting and fun times of my life.
And let’s be honest- couldn’t most adults use a little escape like that every now and then?
By Sadie Keller