People-watching sure can teach you a lot. When I'm on a trip, I spend a fair amount of time observing how other guests treat the hotel staff. Some are polite, but removed, others clearly see beyond the role to the human doing the job, and some are just downright rude. I find myself wondering if there is a parallel here with how they treat children and young people.
It’s sad that there are individuals who need to feel superior by treating those who they deem to be less important, more shabbily than they would their peers or those they want to impress, but it’s true. Children are right at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of social status (who needs to impress a child?) so if you are a person who adjusts their behaviour according to a perceived hierarchy, they are not going to get the best of you.
But it’s not that simple, culturally, other factors come into play, class, race, faith, caste even. A child from a family more highly positioned in society might be viewed as deserving better treatment than an elder from a more lowly section of the community. It’s a complex way of existing. How much simpler then to adopt a more egalitarian position, to treat our fellow humans as just separate souls leading other lives, no more or less valid than our own.
For me, and I’m sure for most of you, that’s the kind of behaviour I would like to be engendering in children, and I try to model it as best I can. Empathy is a core value that is of boundless use in a child’s development, for their own mental health, their ability to connect with others, and to feel part of a group, as they will be asked to throughout their school lives and beyond.
In a climate of self-promotion, self-protection, division and suspicion, we need all the tools at hand to enable our children to avoid a purely isolationist outlook.
So in every situation where we are interacting with others, we should be mindful of what we are letting our children think is acceptable behaviour. They are people-watching all the time, and what they see will effect who they grow up to be and the kind of world they create for themselves.
Here is the latest in my series of articles based on conversations with children, first published in Teach Early Years magazine. In each piece, I focus on one prominent theme. For this one, it’s TRIVIALISING FEELINGS. My thanks to editor Jacob Stow for allowing reproduction, and if you want to know more, details of this and their other magazines and resources are available at: https://www.teachwire.net
* What annoys you about how adults speak to you?
* When I'm crying and they say, 'You're just tired.’ (G - female)
During this little girl’s short interview, she mentioned this issue twice in slightly different ways. No doubt something had happened recently that made this perceived injustice so fresh and raw, but what lies underneath is a common source of upset.
There's every chance you are on Facebook. How old are you and those you connect with most often? We periodically hear about the rise in the average age of Facebook users and the projected exodus of millions of under-25s in the future.
Reading interviews with young people who are now turning to alternative platforms, I was reminded of a past experience whilst working in Scotland many years ago.
So here in the UK we say goodbye to one of the warmest and most clement Februarys on record - in stark contrast to the harsh conditions of last winter, when snow disruption occurred well into March.
Extreme weather is always notable. As such, it has the power to call to mind all the previous times in our lives when unusual climate or weather events have happened. It’s easier for us to access our own childhoods through these less than common events, than through the day to day occurrences.