Lessons from an 8 year old (part 2)

Lessons from an 8 year old (part 2)

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Emotional age vs chronological age

When we are stressed we all regress, but for our children that regression can be shocking. An 11 year old for example may regress to behave like a 5 year old under extreme stress. This makes it very difficult for them with their peers as the gap between them gets wider and wider as they grow up.

Within our mainstream educational environment it’s very difficult to treat children as individuals. There is pressure from all sides to get children to reach their age related targets. This makes things very difficult for our children, for us as parents and for teaching staff. If only we were freer to treat children as individuals, to be able to assess where a child is emotionally and to help them gain the elements they have missed from early childhood.

If you think about all the things children need at each stage of their development – food, water, sleep, stimulation, warmth, love to name but a few. If you wrote those all on pieces of paper shaped as bricks and then built a wall with them it would make a solid foundation for a child’s development. However, for our children many of those essential early blocks of development were missing.

As parents we strive to help our children fill those blocks again. To give them the attention and love they need as if they were that 2 year old again, even when they are chronologically aged 8 years old. For schools it is much more difficult to meet those needs BUT not impossible. There are things they can do to help us in this quest.

1) They can build it into their programme to give children opportunities to fill those gaps again. For example when children get into upper years they can then spend time in the early years – on playground duty or reading to younger children. These are age appropriate mentoring activities that upper years children all do, but for our children it creates a safe and easy way for them to build those experiences again.

2) Secondly schools can take the opportunities when children regress to meet them at that age, in that given moment. Instead of encouraging them to ‘act their age, and grow up’ we can in fact think if this child was actually 2 how would I respond to them?

Third and final message from an 8 year old tomorrow…..

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