Ways to L.O.V.E.

listen to kids valentines day validation Feb 12, 2019
Ways to L.O.V.E.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, we’re reminded that children need our love and care. This is nothing new – it’s why you do what you do!

And in the all-day long, sometimes wearisome, life of caring for children, here’s some encouragement for you on ways to love those little ones.

L.R. Knost describes love using this acronym…

L(isten) O(bserve) V(alidate) E(mpathize)

Listen to children as they walk in the door with the parent in the morning – this will give insight into how the morning has gone so far and how you can help them engage. Listen as they speak to you, respond with kindness and if you can’t respond just then, give them your eyes with a gentle gesture that lets them know you do hear them and will come back as quick as you can. Listen to the words between children. This gives insight into many aspects of development, letting you know how to support their social development as they navigate the world of making friends. Which is really, really important on so many levels.

Observe children, giving time before intervening in a conflict or interrupting their play. Can they navigate the conflict without help? Waiting and watching for children to solve problems on their own is empowering and communicates you believe they are capable (not to be confused with ignoring…!) Observe children at play, especially as they pretend. They are demonstrating to you, as they pretend, their understanding of real-life experiences. Set up a grocery store and you’ll observe what they know about grocery shopping. Set up a doctor’s office and you’ll observe how they’ve perceived those wellness checks. Set up a restaurant and you’ll observe what they know about menus, ordering, wait staff, and table manners. We learn by watching, no matter the age of the child.

Validate children. Guess what? You are one of the most important people in the life of each child in your class! They are looking to you for attention, which validates them. I recently read that when a person is ignored by a person whose attention means the most to them, the reaction in the brain is similar to physical pain. Wow! We validate by giving our attention and by acknowledging a child’s persistence, their hard work, their presence, their kindness to a friend, their participation in important routines like cleaning up or whole-group activities, and by simply letting them know that we like them!

Empathize with children. Remember, young children have only been around for a few years. They haven’t had time to learn how to do everything that’s expected of them, like waiting patiently for grownups to finish talking, taking turns with a friend and not grabbing what they want.  We’ve got to remember that self-regulation takes time and empathize with them as they learn. I really appreciate it when someone is patient with me as I learn new things… and empathetic to my slow-moving brain! Try writing with your non-dominant hand – this is what small motor tasks may feel like to little hands that are developing. Ever been at a party where you didn’t know but 1 or 2 people, but it feels like everyone else is great friends? That’s what it feels like to be a new kid in your class. Empathize with little ones and keep your expectations kind and realistic.

Celebrate LOVE this Valentine’s Day! I hope you have a wonderful time, even if that looks like a quiet evening of Netflix with your dog 

Love yourself, love your family, and L.O.V.E. those beautiful kids you care for.

Until next time,

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