edu180atl: kate strother 8.30.11
We’re big. They’re little.
We know that a fight with a friend in sixth grade isn’t the end of the world. But that argument might be the biggest problem to that child today.
Your 2001 problems probably weren’t as complicated as your 2011 problems, but this doesn’t invalidate those struggles from ten years ago. At that time, those problems were important to you. Did someone take the time to listen? How powerful it is when another person stops, looks into your eyes, and says, “Tell me what’s going on. Your problems are important.”
We encourage our students to see the bright side. But in a moment of nine-year-old despair, sometimes a child doesn’t want to see the glass half full right away. He wants to tell us what’s awful. He wants an adult to listen, to take his problems seriously without patting him on the head and assuring him that one day he’ll understand why he’s repeating the fourth grade. Let him be sad. Ask him, “What is the worst part of being in fourth grade again?” And give him time to really answer.
Today I was reminded of the importance of opening the door to a real, raw conversation where a child is allowed to tell you what’s in his heart. I remembered how important it is to stop everything else and look into his eyes, not at the computer or the papers on the desk. Let him hear–and feel–you say, “Your problems are important.” Allow him time to be sad and then help him fill his glass at least halfway.
About the Author: Kate Strother is thoroughly enjoying her sixth year as a school counselor at Teasley Elementary in Smyrna. Read her thoughts on her blog here.
Image Credit: HalfFullHalfEmpty by Jin via Flickr Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlike-Noncommercial