"It's not hard to make decisions when you know
what your values are"
- Roy E. Disney
To create a passionate child care system, I offer these values as guides to personal and professional decision-making. They are fundamental in all the workshops and consulting I offer.
Connection is the relationship between you and the children you care for, their parents and your co-workers. The stronger your connection is to these people the better your relationships will be, and the more receptive children will be to their learning. Connection provides the safe container for children to play and explore and for everyone to communicate.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
~ Brene Brown
We are all aware of the physical safety requirements – licensing, fire safety etc. Yet, how much focus is there on children feeling safe - having emotional safety? Are the children and the employees free to be who they are rather than being told what to be? If you do not feel safe then there is likely greater resistance and stress. Children "misbehave" and their acting out is not acknowledged for what it is - an expression of not having their biological need for safety met. Where there is safety, however, children and adults are more relaxed, calm and open to learning and strengthening their connections.
“Returning from work feeling inspired, safe, fulfilled and grateful is a natural human right to which we are all entitled and not a modern luxury that only a few lucky ones are able to find” ~ Simon Sinek
With a healthy base of forming connections, feeling safe and having trust children can develop their social intelligence within the context of their relationships. Social intelligence is learned behavior and directly attributes to social competence. These skills show up as listening, self-confidence, negotiation and conflict resolution. Leaning how to handle social situations with control of your own emotions is a prime learning experience in the early years. The importance of developing these skills with children is that these skills are essential to their development in being able to be resilient, delay gratification and maintain healthy relationships with others. As a professional your main role day to day is to support these social interactions and positively promote healthy relationships. The best way to teach this is by modelling such behaviours.
“Research has suggested that teacher-child relationships play a significant role in influencing young children’s social and emotional development”
~ The center on the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning
Trust is a mutual understanding that this person respects me and has my best interests at heart. (I got you and you got me) Trust develops over time and by building upon connection. It is essential for a child care professional and a child to develop a trusting relationship, especially if you are taking responsibility of caring needs. Not only is it essential to develop trust with the children but their parents too, parents need to trust the caregivers of their children. Without trust more stress, problems and conflicts can occur with many situations taken out of proportion due to lack of trust in these relationships. These problems can be made worse if we do not recognize that we also need a trusting bond between yourself and the people or team that you work with. How can we appropriately model trusting relationships for the children if we fail to build the connection to develop this within ourselves.
“Trust is the glue of life. It is the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It is the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
~ Stephen Covey
To allow for healthy attachments within children we must be aware of our involvement within the attachment process. As constant care givers it is our duty to respect this stage of development and guide the child through. We must not forget our important role in seeking connection, building trust and supporting a trusting relationship to develop. How a child experiences these early attachments will shape their view of relationships and social skills for the future. Our ability to form a healthy attachment with the children we care for will dramatically change our perception to the way we react to their behavior.
"A child may not know which direction he is going, but when he is attached to you,
he doesn't feel lost"
Autonomy shows up as a desire to choose and make decisions that effect a person's direct environment. This natural stage of development can be helped or hindered depending on how we nurture or obstruct the child's desires. A child will seek independence and it is our job to provide opportunities to support this in a developmentally appropriate way. As carers we need to respond to a child's need for independence and autonomy, the alternative is power struggles and defiance. Creating a harmonious atmosphere were a child can reach for independence without having to go into battle for it strengthens the connection between you and the child.
"Listen to the desires of your children. Encourage them and give them the autonomy
to make their own decision"
~ Denis Waitley
Sense of Self
To have a strong sense of self is to have confidence in ones self, confidence to try new things, make mistakes and seek new connections to new people. To hold strong your beliefs and values that make up your being, to not get pushed aside, to speak up when needed to – to know ones self and what they need. For a child this means understanding their own hunger, tiredness, pain and frustrations. Also knowing and having a calm sense that they are themselves and they are safe to be themselves. Safe to explore likes, interests and start to find others and friends which share the same likes or enjoyments. Children create a good sense of self by being connected, observing and imitating adults who offer an example of a good sense of self. If you yourself have a good sense of being then you will be able to share and enjoy your passions with the children – whatever they may be.
"Everyone needs a strong sense of self. It is our base of operations for everything
that we do in life"
~ Julia T. Alvarez
Play for young children is learning, everything a child does in play is figuring out how the world works and how to exist within it. Meaningful play happens when a child is connected to the people and the environment around them in which they feel safe and secure to explore. The role of the child care professional is to observe carefully and provide opportunities for growth - with respect to the child’s spirit and desires. A sense of trust has to extend from us so we can feel confident to step back and allow a child to learn naturally through their own exploration and discovery.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is the work of childhood.”
~ Fred Rogers
In the seat of emotions is where we find the spirit, that non-physical part of ourselves which brings joy to our daily life. If we are in balance with ourselves and others our spirit can flourish. A child's spirit may need to be tamed but never contained, we must carefully guide children without trying to control them. Both our unconscious and conscious actions will determine if a child will flourish or wither.