So much of the way we experience life is based on the thoughts we think. Whereas one person sees something as an immovable obstacle, another might see it as a fun challenge. While much of our thinking was learned at an early age, it is never too late to adopt new patterns of thought and ways of looking at things. It is a matter of practice. It also helps to have a strong desire to feel better and experience the best that life has to offer.
There was a first-grade student who always seemed to be yelling and getting out of her seat during lunch group. Much of each session would be spent alternating between praising her for following along and firmly, but lovingly, redirecting her when she would go astray. There were times when it felt like this student was never going to be a fully cooperative member of the group. Thankfully, with time, things changed.
One of the things that supported the change was having short conversations after each group. During those little chats, we would discuss the effects of her behavior and clarify what was expected. At the end of these brief discussions, I would sincerely thank her for coming to the group and wish her a wonderful week. I would also remind her that I looked forward to seeing her at the next one.
One day, as I walked across campus I saw this student crying while on her way to the nurse’s office. I took a moment to console her and let her know that everything would be okay. I then encouraged her to relax and we went our separate ways. Shortly after that, this student started to approach me on her own when I was working with other students. She would smile and give me a hug. It was clear that something had shifted in the way she viewed me and my role in her life.
On top of that, her behavior in the group improved. She started to participate in group activities and was rarely disruptive. The times that she was disruptive, it did not take much to redirect her back on course. As usual, the combination of being loving and firm had paid off in unexpected ways.
Perhaps your mind has been running amok with worry, doubt, or fear in certain areas of your life. It might be time to act like your own firm and loving parent. Remind yourself that there is nothing to be afraid of and that you are more powerful than you currently realize. Reach out to a friend or other supports that can help you remember that you are more than capable of facing whatever is currently in front of you. As you move through old situations with renewed confidence, it will not take long for you to realize that you have been powerful all along.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. He is also the co-host of “Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed” podcast on iTunes. For questions, comments, and ideas for future columns, send an email to: EdwardBiagiotti@ccusd.org