Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Children Learn What They Live

      Children Learn What They Live     

  If children live with criticism,
               They learn to condemn.
          If children live with hostility,
               They learn to fight.
          If children live with ridicule,
               They learn to be shy.
          If children live with shame,
               They learn to feel guilty.
          If children live with encouragement,
               They learn confidence.
          If children live with tolerance,
               They learn to be patient.
          If children live with praise,
               They learn to appreciate.
          If children live with acceptance,
               They learn to love.
          If children live with approval,
               They learn to like themselves.
          If children live with honesty,
               They learn truthfulness.
          If children live with security,
               They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
          If children live with friendliness,
               They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
- Dorothy Nolte

I love this poem. From a young child, I was aware of the words in it as it was hung on the wall in our family home's hallway for years. As a teacher and mother of 3, the words truly resonate with me. 

We often look for a quick fix solution to the behavioural dilemmas we face on a day to day basis. Children's behaviour can be seen as a reactive instinct to their immediate environment and situation. But this poem reminds me that it is much more than that. 

I remember once reading somewhere, that in order to get someone to be a more patient person, you first have to treat them as if they are a patient person in the first place. In order to help children to be better, we first need to embrace that quality into our own conduct and treat them in a way that makes them feel that they are already loyal, loving, confident and so on. 

There is nothing worse than a label. My mother used to bang on about not 'labelling' children. I never really gave it much thought until I caught myself almost doing it.  But over the years of teaching, it is easy to see how children will fit the mould you make for them. If they feel that they are judged as 'the naughty one', that is exactly what they become and inevitably stay in that space unless they are given the opportunity to see that they can be greater than that.

All people want to feel acceptance and love. It is in our nature to want to feel like we are worth something. Children need this more than anything. They just want to be loved. 

Chick 2 with his "best friend" Mamgu.

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