What is true courage?
When I would show up to support a severe behavioural student, people often used to be sceptical that I would be successful. They would look at my kind, soft spoken, calm demeanour and approach and see me as weak, concluding that to solve behaviour you meet aggression with aggression though that would not be how their viewed their thinking themselves.
That is common mistake...misconception to view kindness as weakness . They would then be baffled by my quick success with the child be they eight or fifteen, regardless of the severity of the behaviours.
And therein lies to key. To solve aggression and anger we must be able to thwart it with kind firmness, patience, tolerance, acceptance and understanding. We must first address the fear that has created such rage. We must meet the child where they are.
There are only two true emotions beneath all others...love and fear. It is the calm nature of kindness, love and acceptance of just being with another soul without an agenda that breaks through the fear to what’s underneath. That is what builds trust and how relationships begin with damaged children. When they look at me, they know that my only interest, my only goal is to support them to find a better way and to be successful. I accept them for who they are and where they are in that moment and I do not believe that where they are currently is where they will always be. I believe that no child is truly lost. I once said to a seven year old, "I know you are angry with me right now." He replied, "No, I'm just mad, I know you are always trying to help me so I can be better and feel better." That was from a seven year old. We underestimate their capability to understand, to learn and grow and evolve away from the damaged part of their nature.
This brings us back to the nature of kindness.
kindness is so often viewed as weakness, especially in boys who become men, but the opposite is true. Kindness is strength and it takes courage. It’s easy to be cold, cruel, unkind or to create armour to shield the heart and become lacking in empathy or compassion. It's easier to react with punishment borne of our own rage and frustration and to take everything personally. It’s easy to give into the "me first" ego and every person for themselves attitude. That’s not to say that we should not love and take care of ourselves nor does it mean that we should self-sacrificing. It takes courage to be vulnerable, to continue to offer love despite personal pain and to be a compassionate empathetic soul. That is true courage.That’s how we change the world by fighting through our own pain agendas and egos. That is how we help our children. We teach them kindness. We show them kindness. We model kindness.
It is easy to go first to punishment and unrelated consequence when dealing with the behaviour of troubled child. It's the easy answer. The problem is, it offers no solution. Aggression (unrelated punishment is aggression) only breeds aggression. Punishment is not the same as natural consequence. To reach underneath and create a relationship with an unhappy, angry, troubled child we must first accept them and reach out with kind intervention, natural consequence and consistent support. Children do not become severely behavioural of their own accord; their anger is created.
People also often erroneously believe that if they are kind, compassionate, empathetic they cannot be successful and goal oriented. The child will not listen to them. They cannot get to the top of their game in a career but in truth, with a people oriented approach you will not only get there but you will do so with the support of others. You will become a leader with the support of strong, engaged team. As a parent or teacher, you will create a more balanced and functional class, child or family.
We are not just raising children, we are raising human beings. We are raising our future. What we do matters.
We do have the power to change the world. We just have want to.