Think prevention. Think mechanistic medical model. Think downstream drama. Think out of control. Think guns. Think children. Think life. Think. About. It.
Imagine today's world is filled with millions of adults who, as children, were not nurtured nor supported in a way that creates peaceful, healthy men and women. Imagine passing through grade by grade with report cards that measure your intellectual prowess but not your social, emotional prowess. Imagine feeling like a failure inside and out, year after year, without anyone saying to you and encouraging you: "I can see your bright spots. Can you?"
Imagine a child. Imagine that one child who day by day feels less than, not enough, overruled, invisible, shy, unpopular, pushed around, overlooked, mistaken... and over time flies right beneath the radar of teachers and guidance counselors who are burdened with ridiculous and endless amounts of paperwork, charts and a concern for continuing educational credits and retirement packages.
We are engendering a culture, a subculture of people as young as when their lose their first teeth, their milk teeth, to get the message: "You do not really matter." Your grades do. Your social security number does. What number child you are in the district does. The message is you fill a slot so someone else can make money and fund programs that miss the mark and stay in a system that fails our youth, so much so that when they grow physically older, mentally and emotionally, they have no self-regulatory systems set in place, because no one taught them. You act out -- you get sent to the principal. You yell, you have after-school retention. You fight on the playground, make someone bleed, and you are then suspended for a week and have to stay home in a home that has no adult supervision. Or you break into your school over summer vacation because you were thirsty and there was nothing else to do, so you get suspended for a full semester, angry because it all makes no sense -- because no one taught you how to use time to serve you. You are set up to fail. Period.
What price are we paying when we focus on grades (symptoms) and not self-esteem and self-worth (mechanism)? Since we all are "required" to "go to school," our educational system needs to be reassessed as to what is being taught there, since that is where we receive the hearts of our children. We get to both impress them and imprint them.
As a special education teacher, I have gotten thrown across rooms, spat in the face and loved to pieces -- but what my focus was wasn't grades. It was how do they feel about who they are. Focus on their core desires. How they want their life to look. Who do they want to be? How do they want to get there? What stops do they want to have along the way? Everything had to line up but got directed from within. I call it "you central," for without "you central," everyone else takes you for a drive, going where others take you, following the path of least resistance, never really knowing nor tasting the passion you are, for yourself and the life you were given. These are learned behaviors. They are reflected by those who surround you. If you wonder why life feels as it does, check in and see who you are hanging with, eating with, talking with, running with, hiding with, in relationship with or who you are relating to.
I.N.S.P.I.R.E. = Imagine Now -- Students and Parents for Inspired Relevant Education. The time is now to sit down and take pause and stand up and rise and put the ingredients in for mellow, adaptable, resilient, "certain with uncertainty" children of integrity. This is preventative medicine at its best. If you want to live inflammation-free, eat an anti-inflammatory diet, live an anti-inflammatory life where nothing becomes chronic, repetitive or pervasive -- whether in relationships, your body, your mind or your life. Want adults who are good citizens, feeling good about their life, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually? We then need to go back to the foundations that are really wise practices of a back-to-basics kind of style. Home-grown people. We are the end product of what we are chronically exposed to and repeatedly refined and practiced. Let's practice the things that nurture a healthy adult in the downstream by living the future in foundation now.
This solution used to be thought as corny, new age-y, but guess what? When your child has integrity and answers and is guided by his/her own inner compass, with accountability by others who support his/her path in life, we create a society filled with accountability and integrity seekers who build our world from the inside out. These are children who as adults make decisions based on truth, speak with truth and not hide out and try to get away with, but rather, deal real and see their bright spots. They can tap into the wisdom they innately possess. Spotlight their bright spots. Children learn through whole-body experiences, whole-language experiences, whole-food experiences. This is a systems approach to living, learning and loving.
Ways to Feed Your Child's Inner Compass
1. Offer Two or Three Choices
Offer all amazing choices. You empower their sense of choice and preference and at the same time water the seeds of self-esteem. They feel confident in their choice and feel that it was a good one, albeit lead by you. The act of "choosing" empowers them. They feel like they are an agent of change. They matter. A bright spot.
2. Build a Day
Encourage your child to organize their day through a drawing, a poem, a limerick. For instance, ask your child at the beginning of the day how they want to feel tonight, at the end of their day. They may say they want to go to bed feeling "happy, creative, powerful, abundant, kind." Then you help them find a place in their day to do one thing that speaks to that desired feeling they want to feel when they close their eyes for sleep. And they feel good they got it to happen. Another agent of change moment. They matter. Ask if they can see their bright spot.
3. Social Decisions
When your child is feeling they have a dilemma at hand, or they feel left out, mocked, not important, socially ostracized, play out "solutions" with them. Have them pause, soften, listen and receive their inner voice. Let them know they have one and it is theirs, and theirs alone. Trust it. Their own secret little angel guiding them, moment to moment, breath by breath. To tap in, let them work through three solutions. The key here is to have them "feel" which solution "feels" truly true and authentic. The one that resonates with a high degree of integrity, where your child feels both proud and strong with their own sense of self, no matter what someone else's voice tells them, is the one to listen to. Theirs is the voice that should be speaking the loudest. We teach them to trust this as they try solutions on for size. Allowing your child to make this decision, even when they may make a different decision than you think, helps them in the long run. They matter. They are an agent of change in their own life. Another bright spot moment.
We are the desired future now. What do we have to do today so that tomorrow is better for all of us? The feeling of peace, serenity, and safety ought to pervade our educational systems without fear. So we must water the very basics of life, where we have the most presence and power of influence, right in the schools. I propose we teach a set of skills that are borne out of the human potential and personal development field with the art and science of yoga and its philosophies. We can bank on wise business practices in our new world, taking it to the next level and improving our collective gross national psychological product.
Inspired education that speaks to what's up!
For more by Amy Elias, MS, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.