We are a bit like plants, and our children are too. Some environments help us to blossom, and some are more of a struggle.
Put us in the right soil, with exactly the right amount of cold, heat, and water, and we’ll take off like a tree and blossom amazingly.
Put us in a place that feels too cold for us, and we’ll shrivel up (become introverted and insecure). Put us in a place that over stimulates us and we’ll become a man-eating triffid (become precocious and over confident).
Sometimes there is something that needs changing in order to improve our surroundings and help us to feel that perfect balance. But sometimes it is just to do with changing our view of the world that we are in. More often than not it’s a bit of both.
Curly Headed Boy is struggling at the moment and his environment isn’t quite right, there is just a little too much stress involved. It’s not a major deal as it’s at the early stages, but adjustments are definitely needed before bigger changes are required. I’m hoping that a few adjustments in several places will do the trick, but we’ll see over the coming months and I’ll let you know.
How do I know? Well, he’s been having nightmares for several months (probably since half way through his first term in reception). He is one for nightmares, but not so regularly. He’s often worried and asks repeated questions that show it, mainly about whether he is good enough. He was worried about Little Dimples arrival, and that sometimes resurfaces, but in the main that seems OK as long as we remember to praise both at the same time. He is also pretty vocal about not liking school and why. Plus we have had some MEGA tantrums over the last few months, which other Mums have also noticed since their kids started reception.
The long christmas holidays have been great. They given time for him to tell me lots more about school, and I’ve had a chance to chat to other Mums and get a bit more information about the daily structure etc. The perspective meant that I was very clear on the ‘problem’, and could go and have a little 10min chat with his teacher. We are very lucky because his teacher is lovely, and he adores her. She agrees with me, that he’s bright enough for the school, in fact he is apparently very bright (I’m a bad Mummy, I hadn’t really realised that!), but if we don’t get this sorted out, then it’s not the right environment for him to blossom and grow in. His brightness is more in emotional understanding, so things that other 5yr olds would ignore bother him, and he is bothered by the degree of competitiveness in his class. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the kids, and it isn’t all of them (he just sees the ones that are, not the ones that aren’t). It’s just that they have a VERY high value on academic learning, and he appears to have followed me in having a higher value on life experience and creative things.
There is also a touch of what could be called bullying. It’s not major and no more than we’ve dealt with elsewhere. It’s more of a general ‘throwing their weight around’ kind of thing, as the kids sort out their social hierarchy and a few lay claim to the top spots. Now if you’ve read all my stuff about ‘bullying‘, you’ll know that I have a very different view of it from the mainstream, so I’m not upset with the kids involved, and I’m very aware that we have all bullied somewhere, sometime. But I do need to teach him to sort it out and I know that the school is watching the situation.
So the plan …
- I’ve created a facebook group for the year, so that we can have more impromptu play dates: that should set him up to be socially stronger. Luckily lots of the Mums are up for this.
- We started swimming lessons so he can meet more kids and gain confidence in something else
- I’m chatting to him and pointing out that not all the children have the same focus on their school work
- Some role playing to teach him how to deal with the slightly intimidating behaviour of a few of the kids, so he learns strategies to deal with it (he’s good at this).
- I’ve had a chat with him about being naughty to get attention at home, and we’ve come up with a plan that works out better for him, rather than the current one (mummy shouting), so the home environment will also be a little more relaxed for him.
This wouldn’t necessarily be the right plan for all kids, but Curly Headed Boy is a little like me. We like a pat on the back, and wag our tails when we get them. We are a little sensitive to a grumpy look, or angry voice and can recede easily. I have the feisty Leo spirit in me to kick back in those cases, and I understand lots more about relationships and seeing both sides of a picture. He’s too young for me to explain everything at the moment, so for a little while his environment needs a pick me up, and when he is older I can teach him more about looking for the stuff that helps us to blossom, even if it isn’t obvious.
Ironically, Little Dimples is totally the opposite. I don’t have to worry about her at all, as she can hold her own with a scary look with babies twice her age. This is great news, because wherever Curly Headed Boy goes to school, Little Dimples will follow with no trouble and she’ll make sure that she blossoms!
It’s also been a good reminder to me that we all need an environment within which we can blossom, and it can be subtly stressful when it isn’t available. Again, it might just need a few minor adjustments or a change of perception, but it’s worth it.
I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks how he’s doing and what progress he has made. Feel free to share your children’s experiences if you are also having a problem at the moment, and I’ll happily give you some ideas if you are struggling to get some.
You might like to sign up for my email list (which is different from subscribing to the blog), as during January you get a free online course. I’m also about to announce a free webinar for February, which will give you more insight into understanding yourself and your children, which will help with coming up with these sorts of strategies, which goes well with the course.