The other day I was volunteering at an elementary school with the ‘resource kids.’ These are children who need a little extra support in school. One of the children had been pointed out as a “difficult child.”
His behavior was being monitored and he was given points for being good or bad throughout the day. I saw him constantly trying to adjust himself to meet the approval of the teachers.
I began working with him and two other children on a writing assignment. The assignment was to shake three dice that had pictures on them and whatever pictures were revealed on the dice, you were to create a three or four sentence story based using the pictures.
The two other children joyfully proceeded. The ‘difficult child’ was not happy with the pictures on his dice. There was a question mark on one dice, an apple on the other dice, and a lightbulb on the third dice.
He complained that he did not like the dice and immediately a staff member who was monitoring him told him he wasn’t allowed to change nor could he get frustrated.
He just had to focus, create the story, and do it in fifteen minutes or he would get points for bad behavior. At this point, the young child’s face turned beat red, he became completely enraged and was about to have a meltdown, yet trying not to.
Gently and quietly I looked at him and shared that he was OK and that we would work together. In a relaxed way I supported him to take another look at his dice. I offered a few ideas and asked him questions.
He became really excited. We looked at the dice with an apple. I asked him questions about his experience with apples and then suggested something that could tie in with the lightbulb. He was so excited and empowered, he began to create a story.
He wrote four sentences about being hungry and wondering about the idea of eating an apple, he even made up a creature to help him eat the apple. We finished just in time together.
He was then rewarded for his good behavior. It was quite interesting, the person who was monitoring him proceeded to the head of staff with the young child in tow, noting that he had calmed down by himself and initiated what the solution would be.
The head staff person couldn’t believe it and was pleased. She shared that maybe he would get enough points to have privileges for the weekend and she would speak with his parents.
This is not what happened at all! This child was supported and empowered to see solutions and to relax within his experience of anger and stress with the support of another person who was relaxed and stable, not asking him to adjust his behavior in any way.
When we are relaxed and can allow everything that we and others are feeling or expressing to simply be as it is, we are empowered to see solutions. From complete relaxation, one short moment at a time, there is no need to avoid, indulge or replace anything that we are thinking or feeling.
When we relax with everything just as it is, we are able to respond from a place of wisdom rather than reacting or constantly adjusting ourselves or others. Growing familiar with our natural stability through short moments of relaxation is empowering and doesn’t require behaving in a specific way.
In this story, the controlling of behavior is really unnecessary and teaches our children that a person needs to constantly adjust in order to be okay, when all the while, everyone is okay just as they are.