The tool of humility

When a child becomes the top performer on a test or hits the scoring run, they brag about it to their friends, wanting to shout it from the mountain tops. However, when a child makes a mistake, they internalize the shame and guilt felt about not succeeding. The heavy sense of guilt and self-blame that a child feels when they make a mistake can be life altering in the eyes of a child. Isn’t it time we let them learn that life is full of mistakes as well as getting everything right all the time?



A recent article in Psychological Science found that people who brag about themselves and their successes are more likely to damage their friends’ opinion of them. In other words, currently we are not teaching children how to develop the tool of humility. If it is time for children to realize and reflect on their own actions and limitations, then shouldn’t this be the tool we are using the most with our children? Yes, it is painful to hear their child did not get a sticker with their 100 on their weekly spelling test, but isn’t it more important for them to recognize they didn’t get the sticker because of what more they could have done. 

The picture above is my light box in the class of fidgets that sits on the table when they walk in the door. Make no mistake of it’s message and the psychology of it’s being. For one, it the first thing they see when they walk in the door, welcoming them to the room. The sign reminds them that the skill of accepting what they got wrong is just as strong of a skill is bragging about when they get it all right.  It is one that my fidgets know by heart (probably because I say it all the time), but my fidgets are less to panic over feeling less than others because these children accept others strengths and weaknesses as if they were their own.

In my class we have a daily  tradition of sharing everyone’s high and low. What they are happy about outside the classroom, and what they aren’t happy about. For my class of fidgets, it helps them get things off their chest and share with the other students. In my parenting sessions as a Positive Discipline Educator, this is also one of the skills we encourage others to strengthen because helping children accept mistakes is as great as celebrating their successes. The bigger part of this is the daily routine of reflecting on their own actions and how they feel about. By voicing their own reflections, children begin to self-actualize what their actions helped them feel about themselves. This can also be done around the dinner table, helping children realize the amount of power, big or too little, they are giving to their events.

Maybe if we can help children realize the why in how much power they are giving to the worth of their accomplishments and mistakes, we can help lessen or carry the load?

Working with Not Against Them

In my class of fidgets, they are gold medal winners in the areas of constant movers. For children, the constant tapping and self-soothing behavior is called stimming. Although this term is often related to autistic related behavior, it refers to self-stimulating patterns or rhythms that soothes a student in the learning process. For any adult dealing with a multitude of noise or pattern, all it takes is getting over the annoyance factor (and maybe some ear plugs).

With stimming, it can bring on a bit of a  distracting presence that wasn’t in the environment before, so I suggest working with the behavior and not against it.I know this sounds simple, but what they are presenting to you makes sense to them. It is their normal, so  use what they are demonstrating and work with it.  For example, I have a student who has fallen over in her chair more times than I count because of the constant toe-tapping she creates by rocking back and forth. Is it annoying to the other students? Yes. Has she distracted the other students in the class even though she is in the back of the room? Yes. However, I wasn’t going to let it affect ME. What she is demonstrating isn’t about ME, and I always have to remember that.

As the adult,  I decided to take ME out of it, and remember that this was her normal. So, I had two choices keep her on the current path with what she is presenting with no results, or work with what she is showing me and do something about it. Enter, the greatest adaptive seating method that doesn’t cost a penny.

img_4222By simply flipping her seat over, and allowing her to work on her stomach, her act of writing on the chair creates a series of vibrations for her to feel as she writes. In other words, she is actively involved in the learning process and is doing so on her terms.  Once again, I chose to work with her normal and make it her own.

Sometimes it’s as easy as helping them have a voice in their learning process, which is what  all we want at the end of the day, isn’t it?

A Child’s Magic: a learner’s self-empowerment

I am not a doctor. It sounds like an infomercial that you hear around 2 am when you can’t sleep blasting from the t.v., right? What I do have is eleven years of teaching under my belt in some of the lowest neighborhoods where most of the parents barely graduated high school, residencies for my counseling degree at a residential treatment center where girls had been in the foster system for most of their life, and working as a school counselor in a variety of settings.

Think of the fairy tales you read as a child, none of them spoke of a magic formula where everything you ever wanted came true just because you did something you were told to. Fairy tales happened because of what the character, usually an adorable girl with pig tales or a handsome young chap with an earnest desire to explore, did something about. They made it happen, mistakes and all. Shouldn’t children have that same opportunity?

Sometimes it’s all about working with what the child or learner brings to the classroom. Sometimes you have the unwillingness learners, the ones that  are sleepy, almost zombie like, like this kiddo I observed last week.

He was sluggish, and unmotivated, but given the appropriate content, I knew I could capture his attention. With those types of learners, I work with what he  is interested in learning  on his own.  Using the wiggle seat gave him a constant ripple of motions that sparked his body to engage physically, and working on something he liked the first thing in the morning, made his brain engage mentally. Connecting the brain and body made his learning relevant, which in turn, helped him take an active role in his learning.

Like I said, I’m not a doctor, but aren’t these simple adjustments with working with our children something we can all do? I am all about magic and children, I just feel that they should be in charge of their own destiny .