April 27, 2008

What is Happening Beneath the Surface?

Spring Parenting Group: Group 3

A lot of time with kids is spent trying to get them to do various things, to care about various things, to learn various things. “I want you to be this way, doing this.”

A powerful key to meaningful interactions with children is being able to meet the child where he or she is. Can we notice what’s happening with the child that is in front of us? Can we focus on them and discover what they are trying to communicate to us?

A Person is Like an Iceberg

“[Virginia Satir] compared the person to an iceberg, in that only a small part of him or her was observable or apparent, while the largest part was invisible, hidden under water. When we do not know a person, we are only aware of the visible part, while the most important aspects of knowing a person deal with understanding the hidden layers, where each of us spends most of our time. We need to understand yearnings, expectations, feelings, perceptions, and coping mechanisms of a person to have access to his or her self.”

~ Michele Baldwin in The Use of Self in Therapy
It can be easy to notice and respond (react) to a child's behaviors and words. And if that is all we pay attention to, we miss the opportunity to teach them that their inner world, their thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, are real and able to be experienced by other human beings. We help children to better know and understand themselves by listening deeply to what is being communicated beneath the surface and reflecting that back to them. We help them understand their inner world by noticing their inner world and letting them know that we are willing and able to connect with them there. This helps to build strong and trusting relationships.

Understanding development helps us look closer at what is happening beneath the surface.

Robert Kegan says, “If you want to understand another person in some fundamental way you must know where that person is in his or her evolution.” The Evolving Self p. 113

Development Resources
On CD:
  • Kegan – Piaget Development
  • Kegan Stages Illustrations
In the Packet:
The author of Yardsticks also writes regularly about development and other school related topics at his blog.

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