Sweet or Sour Relationships?
The Sour 25:
What Positive Child Guidance is NOT
- Ignoring me
- Breaking promises
- Yelling at me
- Interrupting me
- Treating me like I don’t matter
- Forgetting that I have feelings, too
- Assuming that I don’t care
- Misunderstanding that when I mess up it’s usually because I don’t know how to do it right
- Being too busy to listen
- Being impatient with me
- Having favorites
- Picking on me
- Punishing me when it isn’t my fault
- Punishing me over and over
- Embarrassing me in front of my friends
- Humiliating me in front of my friends
- Making me feel stupid in front of my friends
- Not knowing that I am lonely and have no friends
- Making mean faces at me
- Teasing me; saying things that you think are funny but are not funny to me
- Hurting my feelings
- Being angry with me
- Remembering all of my mistakes
- Not caring about how I feel or what I think
- Not knowing that I really want to please you
Children long for positive emotional connections, especially from significant adults. When those attachments are absent, children are often unable to relate positively with others and subsequently tend to become withdrawn, suspicious, isolated, and distrustful. There is no empathy, caring, or compassion for others. “One of the features of antisocial personality disorder is the absence of an emotional linkage with others …They are emotionally disconnected,” (Smith 2005, 7). “Children with insecure attachments may suffer from conduct disorder, aggression, depression, or anti-social behavior later in life” (Centres of Excellence for Children’s Wellbeing 2009, 2).
The Sweet 25:
What Positive Child Guidance IS
- Paying attention to me (noticing my new shoes or my new haircut!)
- Keeping promises and doing what you say you will do
- Using a gentle voice with me
- Letting me finish my sentence
- Treating me like I am really important to you
- Remembering that I have feelings, too
- Looking for the best in me
- Understanding that when I mess up it’s usually because I don’t know how to do it right
- Taking time to listen (with your ears and with your eyes)
- Being patient with me (especially when I am having trouble)
- Meeting the needs of all of us
- Having consistent expectations with all of us
- Knowing that the person who you might quickly suspect is not always the guilty one
- Teaching me how to do it right
- Protecting my self-esteem in front of my friends
- Making me look good in front of my friends
- Respecting me in front of my friends
- Teaching me how to have friends
- Smiling at me when you say my name
- Saying nice things about me
- Being kind to me
- Being calm with me when I get angry and lose control
- Starting each new day with a “clean slate”
- Caring very much about how I feel or what I think
- Knowing that I really want to please you
Positive child guidance is all about developing positive and responsive relationships with children. These relationships then foster trust and mutual respect. Children need teachers who not only teach them but also care about them. Children need teachers who listen to them and watch them so that their behaviors (both positive AND negative) are understood. “Children who have warm, close, supportive relationships with their … teacher, are more likely to have better relationships with other children, do well academically, and have fewer behavior problems in early childhood and elementary classrooms,” (Gallagher and Mayer 2008-2009, 144).
[Secure people] are less likely to be defensive and more likely to face negative emotional episodes with honesty, attempting to move on and enhance their lives…This gift translates into more child courage, more competence, more friendliness, and the ability to rebound from life’s troubles and empathize and cooperate with peers and adults (Honig 2002, xiii).
Isn’t that what we want for all of our children in the 21st century?
All children deserve teachers who think they are amazing!
Centres of Excellence for Children’s Wellbeing (2009). Responding to children’s needs: Important developmental milestones in young children. (November): 1-2.
Gallagher, M., and K. Mayer. 2008-2009. Annual Editions: Early Childhood Education. 29thed. New York, NY: Mc-Graw Hill Companies, Inc.
Honig, Alice S. 2002. Secure relationships: Nurturing the infant toddler attachment in early care settings. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Smith, Charles. 2005. First steps to mighty hearts: The Origins of courage. Beyond the Journal: 1-9.
(c) Dr. Lynn Staley