Do you see me? Do you know me? These are the silent questions our children want answered. They want to feel SEEN and they want to feel HEARD. We know about this desire because we have it too.
Children are not mini adults, and should not be treated as such, but they do have the same human emotions and needs that we have.
We know that we ‘see’ our children because we prioritise observation. Observation is not an idle process, but something active and involved.
Our observing is more than seeing. It guides our knowledge of the child and helps our decision making. It allows us to be the link between the child and the environment, offering something that really speaks to them. The observation is even more powerful if it is of a child who is free to choose. What a child chooses to engage in gives a glimpse into the soul of who that child is.
Children want to be seen for who they are now, what makes them unique and special.
This knowing takes time, and needs to continue throughout the child’s entire journey at your place. It is not a one time thing.
We also need to help the children with ‘knowing’ each other, the roles we play in the community and who has a need for what. Many aspects of our work are a fine balance. We focus on the here and now, but our children also want to be seen for who they are capable of becoming. They want us to have a future vision of their increasing competence and confidence.
When we see children, it is not through a deficit lens. They want to be seen for what they CAN do.
We all know what it feels like to have people only mention the gaps, the few things we are not doing so well. Children experience the same frustration adults do when they feel they just can’t measure up.
They perhaps feel it even more deeply because they don’t have the benefit of bringing perspective to it. Children want us to notice their capabilities, their growth and their attempts to get it ‘right’.
The child feels heard when we do things WITH them, instead of TO them.
We show care when we offer partnership, rather than control over someone. Feeling heard is empowering, and again, if it is true for us, it is the same for our children.
We know that an upset child is very often brought some comfort by our use of “I hear you,” or “I hear you crying. You miss Mum”. These are simple, but powerful words, and they offer no judgment.
We know that judgment hinders connection and hampers confidence. Children have the same need to feel valued that we do, and fortunately we can offer them a nurturing, non-judgmental space to learn and grow.
We know that learning doesn’t come from the judgment of others, it comes from an internal drive. We value each child’s growth because it is for their sake and not our own.
A wonderful quote that caught our eye recently talks about how no one ever grew taller from being measured!
If each child is able to deeply feel and say to themselves, “It is ok to be me, and I am enough”, then what other outcome is necessary?
(This article was adapted from a previously published blog post 'Being seen for who they are')
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