This comment comes from Brene Brown in her TedTalk,”The Power of Vulnerability“.

“…Let me tell you what we think about children. They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, ‘Look at her, she’s perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh grade.’ That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, ‘You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.’ That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems I think that we see today.”

How many of us try to take struggles out of education?  I’m not talking about struggles like memorizing facts for a test.  I’m talking about struggling with problem solving, or struggling to complete a difficult physical act such as writing letters for the first time.  It seems that children are wired for struggle AND they enjoy facing challenging questions, feats, and social situations.  Instead of shying away from these struggles, or glossing over them, or worse- solving problems for children- maybe we should be looking at them as true learning!  What do you think?images (2)



It would be hard to trust gardening advice from someone whose own garden was an overgrown weed patch,” observes Nancy Rosenow in the opening of the newest book in the Exchange Store, Heart-Centered Teaching Inspired by Nature.  Rosenow continues…

How can we help children see the world is a place of goodness and unlimited possibilities if we experience it as dreary and stifling?  How can children trust us about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise if they don’t choose to practice what we preach?  How will we help children learn the difficult art of conflict resolution if bitter conflicts in our own relationships remain unresolved?  How can we help children discover nature’s gifts of joy and wonder if we rarely delight in those gifts ourselves?  And perhaps the hardest question of all:  How will we help children experience themselves as unconditionally loved and loving beings if we don’t feel unconditionally loving toward ourselves?”







Focus on the Positive

In his book Practical Solutions to Practically Every Problem, Steffen Saifer offers this advice when dealing with children with behavior problems:

“Feel positive toward the child with behavior problems.  View him as a valuable gift, as he will provide you with an opportunity to learn a great deal. You may learn about the causes of behavior problems, new approaches for helping, the nature of your own biases, new parenting skills, and the availability of community agencies and resources.  He will provide you with a chance to help turn a life around for the better.

“A child with challenging behaviors also can help you improve your program.  A highly active child may be the first (or the only one) to let you know that your activity is boring.  A child who cries often can tell you that you ma y not have enough inviting things to do (he probably has too much time to think about his unhappiness).  Although you may feel that this challenging child has come into your life just to make you miserable, he has not.  He is acting the best and the only way he knows.  Understanding the challenging child will help you feel positive, empathetic, and loving towards him, which may be the single most important thing you can do to reduce the behaviors.”

Do you think about how your language plays a vital role in this? Make a list of words that you want to use on a daily basis and a list of words that you want to take out of your vocabulary.  Does this strategy support your work with  children learning pro-social skills?

In an article by Linda Doherty she states, “Teachers talk too quickly and bombard students with excess words, leaving them struggling in a “sea of blah” and possibly contributing to unnecessary referrals for behavioral disorders.”  She goes on to recount that the auditory testing of 10,000 children showed that 30% from age 4.7  years to 6.0 years could not accurately process sentences longer than 9 words.  Ken Rowe, the research director for the Australian Council for Educational Research, said the children did not have hearing problems but were bamboozled by rapid fire, lengthy instructions from teachers.  Consider that these were children who are on the older side of preschool.

Think about how difficult it is to process a phone number that someone leaves you when they speak too quickly.  Now imagine that you are the young child and that is happening over and over during the time at school! Too much information going through the auditory gate is garbled. It’s easy to see how this could lead to behavioral problems.  It’s possible that the child becomes frustrated, confused,  and tired trying to process the rapid fire information.

Try slowing down and using clear concise language.  Pay attention to the change, do you notice a difference in the children? Do you notice a difference in how you feel?

I recently read an article in Scientific American Mind, May/June 2012 about language development in young children.  Did you know that to tune their speech, young toddlers rely on different feedback than adults?  As adults, we subconsciously listen to our own voice to tune pitch, volume, and pronunciation. Young children just learning to talk do not.  Research has found that they do not begin to listen to their own voice until they are much older, instead relying on the adult to give them feedback.  The real take home message from this research is that “social interaction is important for the development of speech.” (Ewen MacDonald 2011)  You can read the article below.