Thursday, May 29, 2014

Greater Expectations

I want to share something that I've been noticing lately. For kiddos who struggle, whether from a disorder or from life circumstances in general, life is hard - period. Because the vast majority of these struggles are invisible, people have no idea that they are going on. If people don't know that there are circumstances beyond the child's control, they have no way to justify the things they might be seeing from that child (i.e. acting out/behaviours). Therefore, there are people (adults) who think some children are just plain jerks because these adults don't take the time to seek understanding. How unfair is that?!?
It absolutely sends me around the bend when adults judge and/or write off kids. Aren't all children really works in progress? Isn't that kind of the entire point of 'childhood'? Aren't kids also, generally speaking, products of their environments? If a child has a disorder of some sort and less than ideal life circumstances, life has already kicked them while they are down. Why are there adults that still feel they need further 'kicks'?
My philosophy of kids - you can only bring them from where they are and work towards progress. If you place expectations on a child that are greater than they are capable of achieving, you are absolutely setting that child up for failure. Alternately, if your expectations are too low, a child will never have anything to strive for. How are you supposed to know the difference? Know the child! And, for crying out loud, if you can't be bothered getting to know the child, stop judging them for things you don't (or can't be bothered to) understand!
While children are progressing along their life's journey, wouldn't it be more helpful and encouraging to notice the positives than dwell on the negatives? The way I see it, if you are noticing the positive things that your child is doing and positive choices they are making, they are going to start to feel pretty darn good about themselves. When they are feeling good about the little positives, they will likely start to feel proud of themselves. Once they are starting to feel proud of themselves, that will provide the intrinsic motivation that they will need to move forward with a positive outlook on life. When they have intrinsic motivation for displaying positive behaviour and making positive choices, they will chose those positive behaviours more often.
If these kids efforts are only met with criticism and negativity, what motivation would they ever have to make positive changes? If kids who struggle, put forth effort, and still don't succeed, what motivation do they have to try again? For these kids, it's much easier to not try at all, than it is to try and fail. Kids with invisible issues are already putting in monumental effort just to exist side by side with their neruo-typical peers. Now add to that, expectations that are higher than the struggling kiddo can achieve. It's a recipe for disaster!
So, where all children are concerned, can't we all just keep an open mind? Can't we all assume that a child is trying despite what OUR version of trying might look like? Can't we accept approximations?

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