I had to go do a training workshop yesterday. Part of me loves these days for the bludge factor extensive and enriching learning that takes place, and the other part for the food. Catered morsels of goodness. All displayed on pretty doilies in all their glory. I seriously think any kind of food that you haven’t had to prepare yourself, and comes in small bite sizes, just tastes so much better than anything from home, am I right?
I go into these days with a steely resolve. I’m totes just going to eat the fruit and the salad out of the sandwich (can’t eat the whole sandwich. Because. Carbolinia. It’s real, people. And on a possibly related note, yes I may have some issues). And then I get down to the food table, trying to remain composed, but possibly recreating a scene from Chariots of Fire with my mad dash to the front of the line. And I start with the fruit. I truly do. But those little, tasty, treats are practically screaming at me to eat them. I think of the wasteful nature leaving them to rot on the tray would be, I think of the environment, and saving landfill, and I remind myself that I went for a 6.5km jog that morning *just in case*. So it starts with one treat, then another, and another. And I make sure I only eat half of the treat, so it’s half the guilt. Unless it’s really good. Then fuck it, in it goes whole. Then that slippery slope is laden with grease and goo and I’m slip slidin’ down with record speed. I’ve gone into a treat coma and when I wake, I realise that I’ve stuffed half the tray in my mouth, and the next session of the workshop is spent with me chastising myself and wondering why the hell I have no self-control.
I am really beating myself up this year so far, throwing guilt around like it’s confetti. Guilt for not posting enough. Guilt for not juggling all my roles well enough. Guilt for struggling to adjust to a new routine. Guilt for being a neglectful friend, a frazzled Mum, a nutty wife. So much cray guilt. And it isn’t doing me any good. I’ve been trying to find the words to say for a while, but nothing is coming to mind. When I was lost in my own head this morning though, I was thinking about all the people I’ve seen over the years, and what I’ve taken away from them. A lot of people coming in to see me for the first time are in a bad way. Much worse than my cray guilt. Lost in their own pain/stress/sadness/worry/grief/anger/confusion. It’s messy. From there though, we work through stuff, they learn strategies, and they turn it around. Not always in a straightforward way, but we get there. Sometimes I need to get my head out of the grind and remind myself of these things. Here’s the take-home messages I’ve noticed through the years:
Holding onto those negative moments is nothing more than a waste of time. It doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t make you feel better, and it’s not fixing the problem.
When you’re in that dark hole, it can seem all-consuming. But the only person that can climb out of it is you. No one can make you see that until you’re ready to take it on board for yourself.
Sometimes things seem worse than what they actually are. And when, in those rare moments, things really do become that bad, you cope with it. Somehow, someway you do. You might not think you can, but you do.
Things get better. They always improve, even if a tiny bit. They may not be perfect, but they get better. You have to watch for the subtleties.
Shutting others out only serves to make it harder. There’s no time for pride or guilt here. Open up. Even if it’s the opposite of what you actually feel like doing.
Know that you have people on your team. You really do. They might get frustrated, they might get annoyed, they might not respond in exactly the manner you want them to, but they ARE there.
Work WITH people, not against them. The world isn’t against you, I promise. More often than not those people want what you want, for things to be working well, and for everyone to be happy and functioning.
Take the help when it’s offered. You know you’d do the same for someone else, so don’t be an idiot and say ‘oh no I’m fine thanks’ when you’re not.
You get out what you put in to life. Be that therapy, friendships, work. You need to put a bit in to get a bit out. And sometimes unfair shit happens, it does, but really, if you give up and get bitter, you’ll get even less.
Stuff takes time. When you’re in pain, it’s not going to go away overnight, or in one quick session.
Take an interest in others. Even when you’re so consumed in your own world. It can help you get out of your funk. Be honest when others ask how you are. Truly answer with what’s in your mind. And in turn, be genuine when you ask how others are feeling. Because I can guarantee others will be feeling the same way as you. And sometimes others’ are going through worse, and it makes you sit back and really think about how things are.
If there was some way I could give this to future clients right as they walk in the door…..I’d probably be sacked right then and there. But really, I mean if I could just let them know these things, it could almost circumnavigate a lot of crap. But, we humans are funny things that don’t really like to take on board such tips, until we’ve gone through the crap, come out the other side and then have been able to reflect and go “ohhhh yeah. All that stuff WAS right after all…..”. Or maybe that’s just me. Because. Stubborn biatch. So there you have it. If you’re in the grind, print out the tips, stick them on your wall/ put them in your wallet/ carry them in your pocket. Because we all need a reminder from time to time.
What’s your top tip when you’re stuck in the grind?
She’s poised, pen held above, staring at the white paper intently. She eyes the blue, then the yellow, before finally settling on a lighter blue. Pen is put to paper, the outline drawn ever-so-carefully. I look away for a second, and turn back to see her scrunching the paper up, crushing it into the tightest ball. She catches my confused look, “I didn’t get the line right Mummy” she explains, very matter-of-fact. And with that, she’s back to square one. And if it happens again and again (as it does) often there’s a quiet “I’m no good at this” muttered under the breath.
This scenario happens round these parts. A lot. Not just with drawings. There’s seat positions in cars, colours, toys needing to be a certain way. Refusing to climb under her bedsheets after making her bed. You know when you wish your cherubs wouldn’t get your worst traits and then BAM! There they are? That. Well, I can’t take full credit. 50/50 gene pool and all.
I sat in on my first info evening for my biggest little lady last night. Holy hell, I feel like I’m living in that place! Anyways, the teachers were talking about the changes to the curriculum and that ‘more is now expected of preps’. That didn’t sit well with me. More is expected of them? Of 4 and 5 year olds? What do we want from these little people? It seems that there is now this huge shift toward heavy curriculum and a move away from play based learning. Which is shit. Kids are only kids for such a short period of time. And it has been well researched and documented just how important play is for learning and development. Why are we in such a rush to throw these little ones into a formal curriculum? Does it make them better? Smarter? The jury is still out on that one. Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to get an early start, and to utilise those little minds when they are like sponges, eager and ready to learn. But to push them to cram all this formal learning in their little minds, when many are still trying to adjust to not having a day sleep anymore, just seems a bit off.
Why is play so good for learning? Well, let me count the ways:
Play encompasses both social, emotional, physical and cognitive processes. It covers it all in a rich and amazing format!
Sometimes play includes frustrations, challenges, negotiation- it requires children to be constantly processing and thinking and modulating their environment
Play has consistently been demonstrated as a method children use to work through their queries or concerns. They will often play out their issues, and find resolutions. Even if adults can’t quite see it!
Still in the early stages of research, but play is being demonstrated to have an important impact on brain development. Play provides active exploration, which enhances and builds brain pathways (Lester & Russell, 2008). We all want our kids to have good neural pathways, right?
Children who are involved in quality play experiences are more likely to have enhanced memory skills, language development, behavioural and emotional regulation. Which then leads to benefits in school adjustment and more formal academic learning down the track (Bodrova & Leong, 2005).
Play doesn’t just mean making a mess in the sandpit. Play can be through interactive storybooks, role playing, home corner, dance and movement.
Play encourages a broader range of cognitive and oral language skills, which fosters motivation for future learning. We’ve got to get them enthusiastic and excited about learning before cramming their brains with specific, formal curriculum! (Nicolopoulou, 2010).
A lot of psych’s also use play as a form of therapy for younger kids, such is the power of play. It helps children communicate their struggles, to prevent or resolve challenges. It’s particularly useful in cases of trauma in early childhood. You can watch a child become ‘un-stuck’ from an issue over the course of weeks using play therapy. Watching the toys they select, how they use the objects, the language and interactions they employ. Fascinating stuff. And while it feels like you’re not doing much (well, for me it feels like that. I always feel like I have to ‘teach’ a strategy), you’re actually doing more by allowing them to play. Something maybe our curriculum needs to revert back to a bit more. There is still a fair bit of play in prep, but it has changed. And it is not at the level that it should be, we’re slowly moving further and further away from what is most important for our little ones. I’m interested to see how far in the other direction it heads by the time Miss SP gets to school.
So, before you pry that train from your cherubs hand, and try to shove a mathematical equation in front of them, you’re doing an awesome thing by letting them play. It’s the best kind of learning they can get at this early stage. There is plenty of time for formal learning of rules, equations, formulas and prose. Let us allow kids to be kids for a little while longer. And we will see the benefits down the track.
If you’re wanting to find more info on play, check out Maggie Dent. She is amazing. Such a great advocate for play based learning. You can also find her on Facebook.
Also you can check more info out here:
Early Childhood Australia- some great info on play based learning here:
Early Childhood News have a snazzy article to check out
And if you want any info on play therapy, check this site out
Where do you sit on the great play debate? Should we cut the play and go straight to the curriculum? Or do you think we’re pushing too hard too fast?
My husband is a good egg. We seem to be able to balance each other out pretty well. When one is down, the other picks the other one up. Unless we’re both flat. Then we drink and moan. Then hydrolite is ingested and we’re all good again.
I tend to have a habit of stressing. Just a little bit. Anyone who knows me and reads that will probably wet themselves laughing. Ok, so let’s rephrase- I am a freaking stress-head. One friend joked once that if I didn’t have something to stress over, I’d stress over not having anything to stress about. True dat. And when I stress, I catastrophise. That small snowball on the top of the hill? It gathers speed and becomes a freaking huge avalanche. And then we’re all dead and the mountain has no snow left. Grim stuff. You’d think after nearly a decade of teaching people how to stress less, I’d be a master? Erm not quite. And I’m not doing myself any favours for future clients. I promise I can help you! Just not myself!
And then my husband comes up with the goods. We were chatting one morning, while I had a million things running through my head; tossing up whether to switch gears and go for a new job in a different area. He was listening to everything I had to say; and he simply replied “I can already hear what your answer is. Don’t talk yourself into something that doesn’t feel right”. Damn Skippy. When’d you get so zen and shit?
He reminded me, while I went through all the pros and cons of my current sitcho, that shit isn’t really that shit. For either of us. “Remember in retail? They used to say for every 10 good customer moments you have, you tend to only remember that 1 negative asshole”. So freaking true. We do it with everything, don’t we? We could have a great run of compliments at work, and then the second someone criticises us, suddenly we’re thinking we’re shit and will get the sack and how the hell do we show our face again? Or our kids have been beautiful all week and then they have a day of being total assholes and we’re pulling our hair out thinking we’re the worst parent in the world. Why is that? Why do we only focus on the small negatives, and let them overrun the multitude of positives?
It’s how we operate. Think about the news- death, destruction, terrorism, earthquakes, murder, health crises….. and happy little kitten story quickly thrown in at the end. It’s what we’re on the lookout for. Little kids I see tend to do this a lot these days. They’re so focused on the one bad thing at playtime that they forget all the awesome things that have gone on throughout the day.
So I try and help them to refocus. I get them to come up with three ‘green’ things each day. Green- like a traffic light green- helpful, gets us moving forward, gets us where we want to be. And we want to be in happyland. That place sounds like fun. Unlike the red zone. Where we’re stuck, can’t move, not going forward, backward, anywhere. It’s a bit dull. I also get them to make a ‘green diary’ where they can actually write or draw all the good things that go on, or note all the compliments and nice stuff they have. So that when the red zone gets to them, they can go and have a look at all the physical evidence they’ve collated that shows that things aren’t that shit. It’s super cute to see them get stuck into it, and to see them start to re-frame, from the unhelpful ‘red’ stuff to the more helpful ‘green’ stuff. Sometimes I think a lot of these kidlets could teach adults a thing or two.
And I think I might need to do that for myself too. Maybe all grown ups should carry their own green book? And remind themselves that yes, things can get shit, but it’s not all shit, all the time. And while it’s ok to have a pity party for a little bit, to get upset about that negative that happened, if we hold onto it, nothing is going to get better, and we’re not going to move past it all.
How do you deal with the negatives thrown at you? Do you have your own green book? Or a healthy stash of hydrolite like yours truly?
Ok. Bear with me. Dr. Phil drawl is back in da house. I get asked this question a lot. And also, ‘what’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? (that would be a whole medical degree). Like, can you give me drugs and stuff?’ (buddy, if I had drugs, I wouldn’t be sharing. Soz).
I read an article recently that tried to highlight the difference between psychologists and life coaches, and insinuated that psychologists were only concerned with the past, and most people who went to a psychologist, actually needed a life coach. Give me strength. So NOT the case.
I’ve been absent round these parts lately because…. Well I don’t really have a good excuse. Just busy and blah and brain fried. But just recently I’ve had to hit the ground running back at work (well one of my jobs. They all blur into one crazy mess really), and celebrate (or is that cry myself into a bowl of wine? I’m not sure) the fact that my youngest lass is entering her third year of life. Three. A magical age, isn’t it? We’ve talked about the Fucking Fours, we’ve talked about the Second Child Syndrome. Well, when that is combined with the threenager phase…… it’s time to just hide in a cupboard and comfort eat for a year.
‘ we often hear these days that we’ve produced a generation of young people who can’t get through the day without an award. They expect success because they’re special, not because they’ve worked hard. Is this true? Have we inadvertently done something to hold back our students? Carol Dweck
I read this a while ago and I thought ‘holy shit’. Well at first I bristled and thought ‘bugger off! Bloody old people whinging again’ because I somehow think I’m still young and hip and anything aimed at young people is aimed at me. And then I realised I’m one of the old people now. How the hell did that happen?? I have been known to utter the phrase ‘kids today….’ You know it’s all downhill when that passes your lips.
Anyways, this generational wars crap has been going on for…. Generations. Every generation has copped it form the generation before them. I’m sure my generation (which to be honest I have no freaking idea which one I actually belong to. Y? X? Purple Monkey Dishwasher?) was classed as lazy and spoiled. Young upstarts if you will. Wanting everything to happen yesterday. But I’m sure my parents’ generation were classed as unruly and rude, and the generation before that uncaring and tough. We love to slap on labels, don’t we? And generalise.