There are certain points in your life when you feel like everything is decided for you. You can clearly see your next hour, day, week and year. Life is a finished book, each chapter named, edited and ready to read. Some may feel that being in this space provides clarity, safety, and security because the decisions made for you make you feel in control and comforted. However, when we are not ready for life to be decided for us, we can feel more out of control than in control when imagining these set decisions and choices are already written in our script of life.
And what if life is a finished book for you? You can open to a set page and know exactly what is there. You have edited and re-edited and it is ready to be put on the shelf. An accomplishment perhaps, something you have worked hard on and are proud of. But what if, one day, everything that has been decided for you changes? The pages in your book become mixed up, chapters all over the place, and all of a sudden the book that was ready to be shelfed, doesn’t make sense at all. How do you deal with this? Are you flexible? Are you a flowing willow tree that sways with the wind of change or a stiff branch that cracks whenever a big wind comes?
Some children have many choices made for them throughout the day. Perhaps they wake up and their clothes are already laid out and their grown up dresses them. They go to school and the teacher tells them their schedule. When the child is upset the teacher gives them the answer to their problem. After school, maybe they go on a playdate which was arranged by their parent, they eat dinner, and then are scheduled to be in bed by a certain time.
As we know, it is hard work to be a parent or a teacher. Of course, children need structure and rules, they need some choices and decisions to be made for them. But I ask you, and I wonder for myself, are your students and children really ready for all of these choices, scheduled activities, and answers to be decided for them? Are they making the child feel more in control or more out of control?
As teachers, we want to help children fix their problems. We want to say the right thing when they are feeling wrong and we want to give them answers to their questions to help them feel safe, secure, satisfied and comforted.
But as I am growing as a teacher and a person, I am realizing that I need to find a balance in how I help students fix their problems. I cannot always make the correct decisions for them because I need to empower them to figure out the correct answer on their own. In the classroom, teachers place much attention on controlling the class and managing their students. And yes, this is a necessary skill if you want to become a teacher. But I invite you to think about how you want your students to feel in your classroom. Perhaps we are the ones that should be most in control, but ideally, we would like the student to think that they are the ones who are most in control. They should be the ones who feel most in control of themselves, their emotions, and their bodies. We should be there to inspire, guide, give choices, and nudge in the correct direction. We should be there to teach them the skills that help them to recognize that their emotions will change and situations will change. We should teach them that they will not always be in control but that they have a choice about how to react when things do not do their way. We should be there to teach them that the power of decision making is within them and not outside of them. We can guide our students to become flowing willow trees or stiff and rigid branches. The choice is up to us.
I wrote this song to help children recognize that sometimes things can change. The change can be sudden or gradual, bad or good, happy or sad, but the exciting thing is that they can react to the change however they choose. They are in control over their situation and their emotions.
LISTEN HERE to "Listen Within" by Lianne Bassin
LFY founder Jennifer Cohen Harper was recently interviewed by Yoga City NY for their must read book club series. Learn why Jenn recommends Kelly McGonigal's newest book, The Upside of Stress, and how it relates to the children we work with.
"I particularly loved reading about how the body works to bring us together during stress. I spend a lot of time teaching people how to help kids access and strengthen their inner resources, and it’s nice to see the science saying that one of those inner resources is the ability to help other people, even, and really especially, when you’re having a hard time yourself."