A little guy who I take care of within my daycare world is a lovable little gaffer. He has a personality that shines, he has a zest for life and eyes that could light up a city.
He is as smart as a whip, smarter than me I think, which has caused no end of challenges and struggles but we are working things out. Bit by bit, day by day.
He has developed a habit which cannot continue. He hits. Often he hurts someone with a toy he has in his hand as he delivers a blow. It hurts. his friends are getting angry and frustrated. I am getting angry and frustrated.
I have tried everything I know how to do, to try and help him understand he is hurting people. I have told him to hit himself with the toy in question so he knows how it feels. He does it, continues to do it and I have even noticed him voluntarily hitting himself with a toy when he doesn't even know I'm looking.
There have been time outs, angry/stern voices as I "deliver my lesson" to him, isolating him from others, every thing I can possibly think of, I have tried.
All of this, yet we still don't see eye-to-eye on this situation. It has been extremely frustrating.
Yesterday, our brand new week started out with a hitting issue. I put him in a time out in the kitchen, I met him on his level and cupped his chubby little cheeks in my hands, looked him directly in the eye and said, "That hurts. You are hurting people. Hands off! Be kind. Be gentle. Be gentle..."
He looked directly into my eyes and soul and ever so quietly, ever so sternly and with great intent behind his words, he said, "I don't like you".
I thought I heard him wrong so I asked him to repeat himself. And he did. "I don't like you."
It was unmistakeable. He doesn't like me. At least not in that moment.
In that very moment, I didn't particularly like his actions either. So that was my response to him. "I don't like what you are doing right now."
And our day continued to move on in a forward direction.
He continued to reoffend and I continued to be frustrated and tried my very best to catch him in action so he understood exactly what actions were offensive to me.
The good outweighed the bad, by far, and our day was all-in-all a good one.
Their were many more minor infractions within my small daycare family. I had had a most perfectly balanced and fulfilling weekend and I was on my A-game. Let me stress the word "my" within that sentence. I was by no means perfect, but I was so much better than I have been.
The girls were acting like mean, spiteful teenagers among themselves. They were being unkind and acting in ways which were hurtful to those around them.
One of my little girls is an instigator. I rarely catch her doing wrong but I am quite certain her actions are often the starting point where the second or third person down the line gets caught doing something wrong because they are reacting to her behaviour.
Yesterday, I caught her in action a few times.
She was absolutely devastated. She burst into tears with a dramatic flair and she didn't have to say the words. I knew in that very moment she did not like me either. I was really on a roll.
I felt bad that she felt so badly but I did not want to lose the momentum of catching her in the act of doing something wrong and hurtful to her friends. So I focused on "Do the next right thing" (this is a quote of Glennon Doyle's - I am not that wise).
I couldn't believe the power I felt by inserting those words into our day, so I elaborated with some of my own.
"Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. All we can do is do the next right thing. Let's start from here and just be kind to each other. Do the next right thing."
I subconsciously propel myself through my days with this mantra in my head. I make so many mistakes. I am not better (probably worse, because I know better) than the small people in my care. I try to stop myself in my tracks, take a deep, long breath and tell myself to do better. "Do the next right thing."
It is really all we can expect of ourselves.
When we know better, we (try to) do better. We all make mistakes. We all say and do things we wish we could take back the moment we do them. How can I expect my young charges to do any better than me, when I struggle each and every day to simply "do my best, restart and redo whenever I can and do the next right thing"?
Forgiveness, friendship and kindness are what we focus on here within our daycare world. It isn't easy. But it is necessary.
"All relationships take work. Sometimes that work looks like a disagreement or an argument. It may also look like stress that creates tension. Don't worry! It is all part of the work. The key to a successful relationship is to allow the work to take place, to allow the communication to continue, and to keep your heart open to love and be loved." ~ Iyanla Vanzant