Respect in the details, part 2 ~ Listening

Communication is key at all ages.

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It occurs to me that the measure of authentic attention we pay to our young children when they try to tell us about their interests will be exactly how much they want to tell us when they become teenagers and young adults. That is, if we notice what they notice and actively listen to what they offer as children, they will keep offering their interests and stories as they grow, and will trust us enough to keep sharing later when we ask. Continue reading “Respect in the details, part 2 ~ Listening”

“I’m a bad boy.”

I was incredulous this week and, in an instant, so terribly sad when I asked the students in my class to write three things about themselves they wish every teacher knew about them. One student who has struggled with every kind of esteem and behavior issue in the book wrote on his card: I’m a bad boy.

Continue reading ““I’m a bad boy.””

The power of positive … speaking

Out the window …

Weather ~ a cool, clear, sunny summer morning

Wildlife ~ the usual ground crowd of gray and fox squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits, with a few cardinals, sparrows, and one chickadee by 8 a.m.

Mood ~ quietly optimistic

                                                             ~ ~ ~

“We have to be so careful with our words,” my sweet older brother said to me years ago. And so began a conversation to mend a hurt feeling from a simple misunderstanding.

There have been many such moments in the years since, with others in the family, co-workers and, worst, with children. Children start life open and tender, and these casual moments of distraction and hurt from trusted adults dent them, close them, train them. We can all do better. I can do better.

The Virtues Project www.virtuesproject.com is an excellent resource for teachers, families, and friends alike. It teaches the importance of, well, speaking grace.

It’s a simple, if not easy, concept, starting with the difference between praise and encouragement. Praise judges — “I like your drawing,” “You look nice.” Encouragement values and affirms — “You finished the whole thing,” “You made your friend feel welcome.” This is where naming the virtues comes in.

Virtues are positive character traits, such as gentleness, enthusiasm, honesty, courage, and more. We can speak criticism – “You’re so stubborn!,” or we can affirm each other and, in the process, start to see each other more positively too – as in, “I appreciate your determination.”

 Is your child taking too long to get dressed, in clothes you don’t prefer? Will you say “Hurry up or I’m leaving you!,” or “I appreciate how you are taking care getting dressed. I do want us to leave on time. Is there something I can do to help?” You’ll both leave whole and calm, no dents.

Extra credit: Try speaking the virtues to yourself. There’s grace for you too.