Children and Kids articles catalog
 

 

We should celebrate the diversity of children and adults - By Robyn M Speed

 

You know what really annoys me? The insistence that a child?s academic achievement is all that is important.

A grades A grades A grades!

I read an article last year that really stuck in my mind, and the gist of the article was ?even though he only has his O levels he has still done well in life?. Even though he only has his O levels?!! It was as if they were saying even though he only has one arm and no legs, or even though he had half his brain removed, or even though his head is on backwards, he has still done well! (I bet the person who wrote the article was an A level student, otherwise they would not have been so condescending).

How can we be so cruel to judge an A grade student as better than a B, C, or D student, or an A level student superior to an O level student? We look at A grades and A levels and associated them with success, with perfection, and we look at B, C, and D grades and O levels and think of them as less than perfect, as failures.

Yet?

How often do we take a look at a beautifully made piece of furniture and marvel at it?

How often do we admire a spectacular flower arrangement?

How often do we look at a painting, amazed that the artist created something so incredible?

How often do we look at a sculpture and wonder how the sculptor could take raw materials and transform it into such beauty?

Academic achievement is NOT the yardstick by which we should measure ourselves or our children.

OUR ACTIONS are what we should measure ourselves and others by, and OUR PASSION.

A carpenter feels so at one with the wood that he instinctively knows how to shape it, how it fits together, how best to show its natural beauty.

A florist knows how shapes, colors and scents fit together and compliment each other.

An artist has an image in her mind of what she desires to set free upon the canvas, and her passion will guide her hands and help her to set free the image in her mind.

A sculptor, like an artist, knows in her mind what it is she desires to mold the clay into, and her passion will guide her fingers to find that shape within the clay, as if it has always been there, waiting to be exposed.

A potter is so in-tune with the clay that she instinctively knows how to shape it this way and that.

Every person has a natural talent that is in line with his or her life direction. A person who finds academic work easy will most likely end up working in business, perhaps as an accountant, or a lawyer, or some other white-collar work, and they will he happy in that work. A person who is interested in food, in the way flavors fit together, may end up working in a kitchen or perhaps take it a step further and become a chef. A person who likes to make things with their hands will likely get a job somewhere that allows them to continue that fascination.

If we deem A grade and A levels to be the only grades that counts then what we are really saying is that we want all children to be academically inclined?like cloned academic Dolly sheep. The result of such a world would be a world without art, without novels, without movies, without plumbers, without mechanics, without houses, without fences, without restaurants.

We should celebrate the diversity of children and adults. We should celebrate the dreams that we hold and the passions that drive us.

You have no idea what it is like to discover that the burst of a caper?s saltiness combines perfectly with potato salad until you have combined them through your fascination for flavors, and discovered that it takes the potato salad to a whole new level. That is the passion that drives a person who works with food, or who is destined to work with food. That person may not be an A grade student, but who cares. The grade doesn?t make the potato salad.

An A grade didn?t fix your car.

An A grade didn?t mend your leaking pipes.

An A grade didn?t cook you the best meal you?ve ever eaten.

An A grade didn?t make that couch you fell in love with.

An A grade didn?t make that coffee table you just had to have.

A person did. A person with talent and passion for their work.

Don?t ever judge a person as a success or failure, as worthy or unworthy, based upon their grades. Judge them by their personality, their works, and by the way they live--be they child or adult.


Robyn is a writer of visionary fiction. She is also a spiritual teacher and counselor. Visit her website to read about her novels, and also to read some of her articles and channeled teachings. www.robynmspeed.com

Excerpt: Listening to Fear: Helping Kids Cope, from Nightmares to the Nightly News - By Steven Marans, Ph.D.

When Things Go Wrong: Trauma and Our Youngest Children

Our children`s nightmares are filled with the dangers and fears that span development from infancy into adulthood. These bedrock fears -- of losing our lives or the lives of those we love and upon whom we depend, of losing the love of others and the love of ourselves, of damage to our bodies and impairment of functioning, of losing control of our urges, feelings, and rational thought, and of losing the order and structure in our worlds -- are also the ones that we try to keep as far away from conscious thought as we possibly can. Even if our efforts are not as successful as we would like, as we get older our capacity to feel and respond to signals of anxiety increases, helping us to watch for, prepare for, and take protective action against danger.

Growing up, unfortunately, does not free us from vulnerability to the fears of previous phases. In fact, we are most acutely and intensely affected and overwhelmed by fundamental fears from the past when they are reawakened and materialize in unexpected events in the present. We are most frightened when internal threats and real external dangers converge. With nightmares, our fear diminishes as we awaken and latch on to our immediate surroundings to counterbalance the dreaded aspects of our s. A very different situation emerges when, in traumatic situations, we are unable to anticipate or avoid real dangerous events. We are clobbered by nightmares that have come true.

For children and adults alike, traumatic situations are similar to earlier times in our lives when we had no words for our worst fears and when our cognitive resources were not yet up to the task of ordering and making sense of complex experiences. Regardless of age and phase of development, psychological trauma can interfere with our established intellectual, emotional, and physiological patterns. At the most acute and intense moments, traumatized children and adults, awash in hard-to-identify feelings and chaotic thoughts, are unable to recognize or explain their experience. In these circumstances, anyone feels confused, disoriented, and terrified.

Traumatized children and adults alike may be unable to control their bodies. They may shake uncontrollably, weep, sweat, or feel nauseated and jumpy. Alternatively, and in exception to many people`s expectations, traumatized individuals may look as if they aren`t fazed by the horror or danger they have just experienced. In fact, their detachment and emotionally frozen look may be an indication that they are disconnecting or dissociating from their own experiences. This automatic response is one way in which their minds are able to digest the breadth of what has occurred. In truly traumatic events, the capacity to pull together strands of information and experience that are essential for making decisions and protecting ourselves are effectively knocked out of commission.

Well after the traumatic events, children and adults may involuntarily and suddenly reexperience their original loss of control. Their bodies are more vulnerable; they are more apt to be startled and experience rapid changes in heart rate and breathing. These so-called post-traumatic symptoms are especially distressing when we are unable to consciously locate what triggered them or identify the reminders that set such uncomfortable, isolated bodily sensations in motion.

While children and adults share many of the disorganizing effects of trauma, the adult capacity to adapt, figure out defensive strategies, and call on internal resources is vastly different from what is available to our children. Moreover, the self-protective mechanisms that they acquire through normal development are especially vulnerable to traumatic disruptions. A child`s experience of helpless surrender to overwhelming circumstances threatens to undermine recently attained developmental capacities. In a regressive slide, traumatized children are apt to return to earlier ways of expressing their needs, fears, conflicts, and anxieties, as well as to previously reliable ways of negotiating them. As a result, young children who have been traumatized show a wide range of symptoms. These include:

Increased clinginess and difficulties separating from parents

Disrupted sleep, with increased nightmares, waking, and panic

Increased worries and hypervigilance

Avoidance of new or previously identified sources of danger (phobias about animals, noises, monsters under the bed, etc.)

Toileting problems and physical complaints (headaches, stomachaches, or other aches and pains with no medical cause)

Eating problems with increased fussiness, lack of interest, or insatiability

Increased irritability and oppositional behavior with increased aggressiveness, angry outbursts, and inability to be soothed

Emotional upset with unusual and frequent tearfulness and expressions of sadness

Withdrawal of interest in pleasurable activities and interactions

Dramatic changes in or inability to play; playing less creatively; repeatedly reenacting a traumatic event, such as a car crash or a fire

Blunted emotions with no show of feelings; disconnection, as though going through the motions of regular activities

Unusual distractibility

Refusal to engage in previous age-appropriate behaviors (self-feeding, washing, brushing teeth, self-dressing, etc.)

Return to more babyish speech patterns

While all children may be vulnerable to symptoms of trauma when real dangers converge with their worst fears, it is not surprising that children whose development is already fragile may be at greatest risk for continued long-term effects after sudden overwhelming events. Parents and caregivers fail children when they do not recognize that they have been overwhelmed by trauma and need help.

Excerpted from the book Listening to Fear: Helping Kids Cope, from Nightmares to the Nightly News by Steven Marans, Ph.D. Copyright ? 2005 Steven Marans. (Published by Owl Books; January 2005; $15.00US/$20.95CAN; 0-8050-7604-2)


Steven Marans, Ph.D., is the Harris Associate Professor of Child Psychoanalysis and an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, where he is also the director of the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with his wife and two teenage sons. For more information, please visit www.writtenvoices.com.

Children articles index