Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Children Act Better When They Feel Better

I believe that children act better when they feel better. Do you agree?

What would our worlds look like if we deeply believed this, and put it into practice? Then our mission would become to help the children feel better. How could we do that? Of course, we do that already in many ways- but what if we deliberately made helping the children to feel better our top priority?

It would be essential to define “feeling better” in a complex and multi-faceted way. Each area has many parts and of course they overlap. It could include:

Feeling Better Physically:

• Addressing any health problems
• Establishing good nutrition
• Helping with sleep
• Engaging the kids in exercise, helping them overcome their fears and shame around moving their bodies
• Providing nice, comfortable clothes
• Addressing sensory distress

Feeling Safer:

• Eliminating bullying
• Addressing signs of danger
• Being caring, welcoming, sensitive to their needs

Felling Calmer:

• Teaching self soothing skills
• Teaching yoga, meditation, neuro-feedback
• Help with life problems

Feeling Less Shame:

• Exploring areas of self blame
• Forming relationships
• Experiencing competency

Feeling more competent

• Building on strengths
• Teaching new skills
• Encouraging self expression
• Providing opportunities to help others
• Providing praise and recognition of achievement

Feeling more effective:

• Providing many opportunities to control ones own life
• Teaching and practicing conflict resolution skills
• Providing opportunities to make a difference
• Developing leadership

Feeling more connected:

• Developing strong relationships between ourselves and the kids
• Providing assistance to help them maintain relationships with family and friends outside the agency
• Providing assistance to help maintain connections with communities such as religious organizations, their own school, sports teams, etc.
• Encouraging and facilitating appropriate relationships between the kids
• Encouraging exploration of their own culture and history

Obviously these are the things we do anyway- but does this way of looking at them help understand or organize our work in a new way? If a child acted out, we can wonder in what way they are feeling bad, and how can we help them feel better. Our response should be focused on helping them feel better, not explaining what was wrong with what they did.

I am just beginning to think about this. What is your reaction? Click on comment to respond.

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