Lessons from an 8 year old (part 3)

IStock 000019855742XSmallBuilding trust

Trust is the foundation of relationships. We know that relationships have failed our children in many ways. They don’t feel the basic level of trust that other children do, so they constantly question our motives and are looking for us as adults to let them down. For teachers this is an essential understanding to have. To know that our children come from the place of mistrust and it takes a long time for that trust to develop.

For my 8 year old he constantly questions the fairness and actions of adults. With his teachers he watches them to see how they relate to him and others and whether they can be trusted to do the best for him. For our teachers what they say and do around our children helps or hinders this process of learning to trust.

An incident recently with our son illustrates this perfectly. He struggles with his handwriting and many times cannot be bothered to put the effort in, for whatever reason. His teacher knows that he can write well sometimes, but other times he chooses not to. My son takes a pencil case into school full of his beloved pens. The teacher told him that if he did ‘good’ handwriting then he could get to use his own pens. This was a constant battle for my son everyday for a while complaining about the injustice and unfairness of this set up.

So imagine my frustration a few weeks later when he comes home and says he did ‘good’ handwriting. To which I asked, “did you get your pens?” his reply was “no”. When I spoke to the teacher she had forgotten. Something said weeks before to motivate him to work was forgotten with the busyness of a classroom of 30 children.

For my boy there have been many seemingly small incidents like this that have contributed to his mistrust of his teacher, so much so that around that particular incident with the pens he didn’t want to speak to her again. He has of course spoken to her since then, but each time something similar happens he goes back to that disappointment and relives his feelings of being let down.

Of course we can understand the teachers overlooking something like this when they have so many children to cater for BUT we have to remind teachers again and again that unless our children can trust them and feel safe at school they will not be able to learn. Learning is not a priority for most of our children, surviving the day – with all the anxieties it brings, is the driving force for them.

So in summing up these three blogs – what are the lessons we can learn from my beautiful 8 year old son?

  1. Our children may appear to be independent or want independence but until they are truly dependent on an adult they cannot move towards real independence.
  2. We (and those working with them) need to be aware of their emotional age and treat them accordingly to help them build those early foundations.
  3. Trust is the bedrock of relationships – everything we, and others, say and do must be congruent for our children to begin to build trust.

A final word of encouragement to parents – however difficult you may find the relationship with your children’s educational setting you must keep pushing to get their needs met. It is exhausting at times as it seems to be an uphill struggle but our children need us to keep trying.

There are organisations that can help – your local Parent Partnership group will help you talk to the school and get the support you need, your local Educational Psychologist team will also help with support, assessment and training and I run workshops for schools and parents on education. I also have available on Kindle an e-book for schools on understanding Attachment issues in educational settings. I would also highly recommend Louise Bombers books ‘Inside I’m hurting’ and ‘What about me?’ as an aid for schools. 

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