“When I’m sad, help me be happy.”
I was at a Playcentre up in Auckland on Saturday for a Course 5 workshop (because, you know, I’m not busy enough. Insert sarcasm emoticon here.)
They had an interesting poster up on the wall, that, on initial read, I thought was fantastic.
Its title was “Happy Place Playcentre”
and underneath several lines told adults what to do with their children. Among them things like:
- “Listen to me.”
- “Play with me.”
- “Read me stories.”
- “Ask open-ended questions.”
- “Call me by my name.”
- “Ask before you touch me.”
That kind of thing. Good stuff about respecting the child as a person and a learner.
But then I got to this line: “When I’m sad, help me be happy.”
And I stopped. What? I re-read the line, and yes, it did indeed say what I thought it said.
I can hear some of you thinking “what’s the problem? I want my children to be happy!”
Absolutely. I want my children to be happy, too. But there are legitimate times to be sad. And trying to make someone happy when they are legitimately sad is, I think, disrespectful.
I would have written something like:
“When I am sad, acknowledge my emotions and help me understand the emotion.”
“When I am sad, ask me if I’d like a cuddle.”
“When I am sad, ask me if I’d like to tell you about it.”
Or anything else along that line which allows the child to own the emotion, and acknowledges that people sometimes feel sad, and it’s okay.
Because if they think it’s not okay to be sad (i.e., must be made happy ASAP!!) then they will spend a lot of time hiding their emotions and repressing things which cause trouble when they’re bottled up.
If the reason they’re sad is trivial, then clearly it would be a great opportunity to let them own the problem and see if they can problem-solve their way out of it, with help. (Going back to those open-ended questions!!)
How would you re-word that statement?
- Party! Celebration! Come join in! (lostinaseaofblogs.wordpress.com)