Week of September 30, 2019 / 1 Tishri 5780 Bravery, Grit, Resilience
Today I would like to dive deeper into the conversation about bravery that I began at our Separation Meeting in early September.
To separate, a child needs to develop trust for new faces and spaces. How can such trust evolve in the context of new settings that inherently involve duress? As children experience having an adult other than the ones they are used to help them with their needs – from help with toileting to dealing with fear or sadness – they begin to trust these new adults. Trust also develops when these same adults share the child’s joyful experiences.
Although I have observed countless separation periods, this month I had a new insight. For years I have been writing about the importance of building and reinforcing grit and resilience in young children. Parents and educators often inquire about strategies that help develop these traits, and we often speak about praising children for their struggles and problem-solving attempts.
During Phase-in this year, it dawned on me that we also promote grit and resilience when we praise bravery. Bravery is a word we typically save for extreme circumstances like getting a shot at the doctor’s or getting stitches after cutting our chin. However, saying goodbye to mommy, daddy, or a caregiver to enter a brand-new classroom with new educators and friends is also an act of bravery.
As educators and parents, I encourage you to identify the moments when your child demonstrates bravery. Spending a first night in a bed other than a crib, staying with a new babysitter for the first time, and attending a movie for the first time with loud sounds and music are all acts of bravery for young children. Pausing to name these occasions as brave moments can build grit and resilience in our children.
Among our team in the ECC, we frequently speak about how children’s brains grow when they struggle. We praise the struggle as fervently as we praise the resolution. I now encourage us all to also praise bravery. Separation is hard. It is hard to say goodbye to the person or people who make you feel safe and comfortable. It is brave. And it is brave for you as parents and caregivers to entrust us with your children.
We look forward to witnessing more brave moments with your children as the school year continues.
We wish a happy and healthy new year to you all.