We consistently observe that children love attention, but have we ever analyzed what’s underneath that obvious fact?Since the answer is in this brief article’s title, I’ll say no more on that. I will, though, emphasize the need to analyze the quality of our attention on children.
When our attention is complete and undivided, how do we imagine the impact will be on children’s feelings of being valued?If the answer to that question doesn’t come straightaway, can you reference your own childhood, and the quality of attention you received, to gain insight?
For uncountable reasons, attention on others cannot always be pure and undivided, but moments (yes, just moments) – every day – can and do have deeply nourishing impact … especially when those moments have nothing to do with situations that require corrections which, unfortunately, are the most common times our attention is undivided. Let’s see if we can stretch our pure and undivided attention ‘windows’ to include neutral, happy and constructive moments.
A few more important elements: words aren’t necessary. In fact, they’re sometimes a distraction, with their labeling and ‘boxing’ effects.Just be consistent and uncomplicated, then notice the effects over time.
It’s inevitable: people see things differently… even when they’re standing close and looking at the same situation or event. Different perspectives can cause a lot of problems, or they can improve situations. Totally depends on everyone’s perspective taking abilities.
Why are there individual perspectives?
Basically all our experiences – situations, events, what other people say and do – are up for interpretation. Interpretation is based on lots of known, and a variety of unknown, elements: past experiences, culture, faith, family values, personal preferences and previous associations to name a few. Differences don’t need to imply right or wrong … they’re just different. Period. Even little kids “get that,” when they’re given the chance.
Provide students with multiple opportunities to exercise their own hard-wired curiosity about other peoples’ perspectives – with zero pressure for them to agree. Chances are pretty good that those kids will be inclined to open-mindedly consider others’ thoughts and feelings before arriving at their own final conclusions.
Open-minded people are psychologically and emotionally flexible enough to consider alternative solutions. When open-mindedness is combined with solid self-worth, constructive outcomes are likely.
What would the world be like without different perspectives?
For starters, life would be monumentally BORING. Creativity would be non-existent. But look at the bright side: there wouldn’t be any disagreements. Zzzzzzzzzz!!!
Is there a way to have the best of both? Of course there is. Bring together groups of peers to objectively discuss situations and challenges familiar to everyone in the group. It really helps to show a picture of the scenario you choose to have the kids discuss. Be prepared with a list of 10-20 questions that respect kids’ intelligence in order to facilitate the most successful perspective-taking exercises.
Questions that communicate respect for kids’ intelligence and problem solving abilities are: √ Open-ended. √ Unpredictable, but relevant. Here’s a full example for trying out with your 5-7 year old students. (Read through all of the questions ahead of time, so you can maintain the discussion’s momentum.)
Check out these additional resources for supporting your success at increasing the perspective taking skills of all grade levels.
OBSERVATIONAL LEARNING, sometimes referred to as vicarious reinforcement, can take place at any point in life. It’s most common during childhood as children learn from the authority figures and peers in their lives. It plays an important role in the SOCIALIZATION PROCESS.
The Kids’ Own Wisdom approach makes constructive use of this researched and well-documented fact about learning by creating specific opportunities for children to think together, problem-solve together, and to act upon their conclusions together.
Factors That Influence Observational Learning – Psychologist Albert Bandura (describing his own perspective as ‘social cognitivism’) is the researcher perhaps best identified with learning through observation. According to Bandura’s research, there are a number of factors that increase the likelihood that a behavior will be intentionally observed and then imitated. Among them:
People who are similar to us in age, sex, and interests
When the situation is confusing, ambiguous, or unfamiliar
The key element to note in Bandura’s highly regarded observations is that peers learn from peers.Peers are highly motivated to pay attention to peers for all the obvious reasons – acceptance and trust being prime among those reasons.
“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”
-Albert Bandura, Social Learning Theory, 1977
Teachers do well when they make use of the facts about how real learning happens by creating groups discussions around topics that are 100% relevant to their students. Care must be taken, though, to assure that students feel respected enough in these discussions so they can exercise their own creative problem-solving skills to arrive at their own most balanced and constructive conclusions.