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
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.
How often do we take a look at a beautifully made piece of furniture and marvel
How often do we admire a spectacular flower arrangement?
How often do we look at a painting, amazed that the artist created something
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
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.
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
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
Children articles index
- Brains on Fire: The Multimodality of Gifted Thinkers - By Brock Eide
- laying Baby Computer Games ? The New Parent-Child Tradition? - By Emma
- Book Excerpt: Einstein Never Used Flash Cards - By Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph
- Putting Fun Into Parenting - By David Stoepker, Psy.D., & Erin Brown Con
- Preparing Your Child for a High-Tech Future - By Sue Sato
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Predominantly Inattentive
- Abandonment - By Sonya Green
- Explaining Suicide to Children - by Tracy Pierson
- Our Children`s Needs - by Robert Elias Najemy
- How to Develop Self-Esteem in Children - By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.
- Helping Children Overcome Stress and Fear - By Debbie Milam
- Do you Shout at YOUR children? - By James Middleton
- Book Excerpt: Helping Children with Autism Learn - By Bryna Siegel,
- SPEED SPELLING: Another way to use speed reading skills for "schoolwork&q
- Children and Stress - By Laura Silva Quesada
- Boundaries- Why Are They Needed? - by Derek Randel & Gail Randel M.D.
- Juggling Home
- Explaining World tragedy to Children - By Chick Moorman and Thomas Ha
- Children and Pessimism - By Carol Tuttle
- Loving Yourself, Loving Your Children - By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
- Social Manners for Children - By Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach
- The Sexual Abuse of Children - By J. Bailey Molineux
- A Few Simple Truths About ADHD and Stimulant Drugs - By Steve Edelman1,
- DYSLEXICS and A.D.D. KIDS BECOME GIFTED SPEED READERS - by George Stanc
- Using Feng Shui for Better Behaved Children - By Kathryn Weber
- Book Excerpt: Helping Children with Autism Learn - By Bryna Siegel,
- Five Keys to Raising Nonviolent Children - By Tammy Cox, LMSW
- The Best Way to Reduce Stress: Start Young - By Zach Brull
- Your Child?s Self-Esteem is in The Cards - By Susan Howson
- Calming Tips for Hyperactive Children - By Jeannine Virtue
- What is ADHD? - By Jeannine Virtue
- Talking to Your Children About Sex - By Jan Andersen
- How Our Children Really Learn And Why They Need To Play More And Memo
- HOW DO WE PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM PREDATORS? - By Linda J Alexander,
- Teach Children Positive Self-Image Through Fitness - By Lynn Bode
- No Invitation Needed -- Part 3 of 3 Sacred Children Series - By Skye T
- Helping Our Children Feel Good About Themselves - By Dr.Barbara Becker Hol
- Unidentified Stepfamily Zones - Discoveries Made at a Stepfamily Confer
- Divorce and Children: Things To Consider When You`re Staying Married
- Six facts you should know to empower your teaching. - By Emmanuel
- Are You in an Abusive Situation? - by Colin Gabriel Hatcher & Randall
- The Divorce Revolution Has Failed - By J. Bailey Molineux
- Is Your Child Well-Mannered? - By Mary Jesse
- Jesus` Birthday -- Part 2 of 3 Sacred Children Series - By Skye T
- Empty Nesters: What Should You Do Once the Children Leave? - By Mary Guar
- We should celebrate the diversity of children and adults - By Robyn M
- How to Cope with Back to School Stress - By Debbie Mandel
- HIS KIDS: BECOMING A W.O.W. STEPMOTHER - by Julie Donner Andersen
- ADD / ADHD Children : Being Your Child`s Best Friend - By Kate Hufst