Raising children requires an abundance of patience. Working with them requires even more, and let me tell you, there are some days when I’m convinced that I’m fresh out of all the patience in the world. But even on the craziest of days, whether in my own household with my own kid, or here at work with whom I call my “other kids,” I always find a way see the silver lining and speak life and positivity into them. Trust me, it’s not always easy.
I’m sure some of my parents out there can relate. My daughter is ten years old and currently going through a state of… we’ll call it “confusion.” She seems to have forgotten the art of respect, manners, and general common sense at home. I know that I’ve raised her with these qualities, and normally she displays them with ease and in abundance. However, recently, I’m unsure of who this child of mine is. I’m sure that it’s a part of the prepubescent stage of life, which I understand. However, I do not have to like it, and I don’t.
As a parent and as someone who encounters other kids at this same “confusing” stage in their lives on a daily basis, I had to figure out how to best work with these circumstances. The first thing I do is breathe and make sure I am clear that whatever behavior is being displayed, (talking back, rolling of the eyes, not listening, etc.) is not acceptable. Second, I ask simple open-ended questions to find out why they felt that particular choice was the go-to choice in that moment. I find many times that it’s frustration, assumptions, or just plain annoyance. Third, I ask what might be a better option next time. This is the best part because 99.9% of the time, a better option falls right out of their mouths. Crazy, right? Lastly, I remind them of something positive about themselves and express how appreciative and proud I’ll be when they choose to go with the aforementioned choice the next time. The silver lining; now someone has reminded them that they’re great, capable, and whether they realize it or not, they’ve had a learning moment.
I find that when I speak life into any child, mine or the ones I work with, I see a shift. They seem more confident, more willing to cooperate, and more accepting of their mistakes and the willingness to correct them next time. I can’t say that this works all the time, and there are certainly days when I just can’t seem to find the silver lining, but I think most days is better than none. My work for Parks and Recreation allows me to have a huge and integral part in a lot of children’s lives and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. To all the parents that sometimes wonder if you’re doing a good job, I promise, you are.
Jacquelyn Tyre-Perry is the School Age Recreation Specialist for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at J.Tyre-Perry@ManassasParkVA.gov.