Are you Teaching Children?
Are you teaching children?
If so, you’ve likely encountered a number of tough topics with children, such as rape and guns. With all the available information available to us, how do we know what to tell our students that is age-appropriate, not scare them, and show respect?
I’ve worked in very young children in a school environment where staff went over a number of issues, working in response to observations made by students. The age of the students made it difficult to know how and when to touch a certain topic. I learned that my young students do not like being scared. They were very reluctant to talk about their thoughts and feelings. In fact, the students would whisper it in the school hallways or take turns hiding under the desks. Their emotional involvement made it hard to share their thoughts with older teachers.
Teaching Children To Share
In my group program for children who had been traumatized by bullying, I spent a lot of time with each child in explaining the sources of their feelings, talk therapy, and ways to express positive emotions. The kids were nervous at first, but surprisingly comfortable around me and I helped them out of their shells. One of the children told me that for years he “had a gnat” in his head that told him he was ugly and that if he didn’t do what he had to do, he would go to hell. He didn’t like his gnat so much.
He went to school to learn how to share his feelings and spread good feelings. On the way to class, he tried to share the reasons why he was scared about getting picked on and why he was angry with the bully. When he arrived at school, he told his teacher that he had just come from his counseling session. Although it took some getting used to, the kids quickly learned to ask questions rather than dive right into the uncomfortable topics with older teachers.
It is important to be thoughtful when choosing the appropriate topics for a child. It helps to teach students to see themselves as sources of their own healing and education and that they can speak out. The best way to address a difficult topic is to begin your conversation by inviting a child to share their own experience and that they have a right to feel safe, respected, and cared for.