Because I don't want to. I cannot un-see what see on these programs.
Images from violent crime. War. Murder. Hate crime. Robbery. Devastation.
Yes, I know that these things happen in the world, sometimes a little closer that I would like to imagine HOWEVER I find that the way news and information is presented to us via most networks is is with maximum shock value and minimal fact and integrity.
Wow, a bit of a rant today?
Across the last week I've been at home more and also in the car more being that it is school holidays. This has meant that I have been exposed to more reporting media than is typical for me. In the last week we have had many violent crimes in our country and several murders.We probably have had some fantastic things happen also...but these rarely make the news.
The murder of Stephanie Scott really struck me hard. A beautiful young woman, ready to marry the love of her life and celebrate this with her friends and family, taken from the world in circumstances that we do not wish to imagine.
I suppose that I have been trying to get to the why of this and many other quite unbelievable crimes that have occurred recently.
The outpouring of love and support that emerged during the search for Stephanie Scott and after she was finally found did give me a feeling that there remains a connectedness between people. When times are darkest we often see the true strength of people.
So I began to think,from an early childhood perspective, what can we do to support children to develop this sense of community spirit, love and respect for their fellow human beings, kindness and empathy for all living things and also the ability to be resilient? How can we support children to know that they have options; they have people willing to listen; that they are worth listening to; that they have the potential for greatness and can achieve their dreams?
It may be quite naive to think that we can rid the world of all crime through positive early childhood programs but you know what - I'd like to make a good go at it!
I began to make a list of the ways in which we can support our children, be it in the pre-school setting or at home. This is not a definitive list. It is not a recipe for success. It is a starting point.
- Create a sense of belonging. The Early Years Learning Framework (DEEWR 2009) has belonging in its title: Belonging, Being & Becoming. A sense of belonging is vital for any person to feel connected. Children need to know that they are safe and in a place that they can be themselves. They need to be accepted for who they are and shown that we are glad to have them with us. Belonging looks like smiling; like welcoming arms. It sounds like familiar greetings and shared communication. Belonging has a shared identity and lets us know who we are.
- Celebrate Being. Showing children that who they are right now is something special. We all have a past and we have a future. But one of those we've been to and the other we will get to. In time. Right now there is time to be, time to learn, time to use the skills and knowledge that you have at this moment. We can accept and appreciate children without constantly preparing them for the next step.
- Slow down and love your world. Yes, I know. That's a tough one sometimes. I understand that. As a full time working wife and mother with
way toomany interests I know that we can feel pulled in many directions. But there's such a beautiful world all around us. Perhaps as adults we need to practice...just step outside. Look up. Look down. Look at the people around you. Look at a plant. Check out a bug. If you gave yourself just 10 minutes to really look around you would be amazed at what you see. Often, children are great at seeing the little things. But we need to make sure that they are given the time. I find that connectedness with my world feels strongest when I am in touch with it. When I walk through my town and look at the beauty in nature, see the constructed environments and say hello to people I feel so much a part of my surroundings. This happens daily at pre-school. We aim to develop a sense of pride in our community and a respect for our community members.
- Be very aware of the messages that children are receiving. A child may not be sitting in front of a news program but they may still be taking in the stories and images that it contains. I do not believe that, in a home setting, we need to shield children from every negative aspect of life but I do strongly believe that this information needs to come from a balanced source that is focused on sharing and building resilience more than glamorising and creating drama. Show your children that you will answer their questions. Be honest and tell them "I don't know" if you cannot answer them. Help children to understand that the negative happenings in our world are not the norm. Help them to see the positives in their own world and look for positive, uplifting stories that you can share.
- I realise that again this is more suited to your home setting, but begin to help your children understand the very basics of mental health issues. This has come to light more in my own world as we have had word of several tragic suicides in the past months. I know that understanding the complexities of mental health is not what my son needs right now however I aim to teach him, over time, that there are many ways in which our mindset and our mental health can affect us. As he grows I would like him to be aware of his friends and to recognise if they are having a hard time. I would like him to recognise these signs in himself, should they appear, and know where he can go to get the support he needs. In a pre-school setting this may look like taking care of friends when they are sad. Practicing asking your friend "are you ok?" if they look like they need help. Having educators who take time to listen and do so without interruption or judgement.
It is an old cliche to say that children are our future but it is the truth. NOW is the time for us to be the ones who support them in becoming strong in themselves, safe in their world, connected to their community, connected to the wider world, empathetic to all people and resilient in themselves.