Tuesday, July 7, 2009

to be held in one's mind

Now that I have time to read anything and everything I've been browsing my way through books on various education topics that I wanted to read throughout the year but couldn't find the time. One book I picked up is Attachment Theory in Clinical Work with Children edited by David Oppenheim and Douglas Goldsmith (2007). It's really a collection of research articles, or research reports intended to be read by counselors to help with their clinical practice. Even so, it's given me a greater understanding of attachment disorder, and I've picked up some ideas here and there that I think will benefit my little ones.

One of the simple interventions that stuck with me is the importance of letting children know you think about them even when they are not around, or "being held in one's mind". Goldsmith writes, "The comfort and delight of being held in mind provide a critical human connection that produces a sense of safety and containment for the child. Such an experience is a critical building block that leads to the development of a secure base..." It lets our children know they are worthy of care and for our little ones with attachment disorder it chips away at their inner working model of their self, which usually tells them they are not worthy.

It's so simple- telling a child, "this weekend I saw a cardinal, and I thought about the story you wrote about the red bird!" or, "WOW! I thought about you last night during the thunder storm. I can't wait to see what you write about it today!" Debbie Miller suggested occasionally leaving books for children on their desks with a sticky note that says "I thought you'd love this book!" It's something I love doing because I delight in watching the children's delight in getting a recommendation note.

I think it's something we naturally do- letting the children know we think of them, but also something that we forget to mention when we get busy. Or, for me, it's harder to do for the child that's already pushing my buttons from the moment he walks in the door, even though he's probably the child who needs it the most.

I love knowing that something so simple- letting our children know they are "being held in one's mind" can be a part of building them up. When we're frustrated and feeling we're not making headway, it's good to remember these little pieces are slowly chipping away.


Sarah said...

Years down the road, they may not remember the social studies content for first grade, but they WILL remember if they liked their teacher and if their teacher liked them!

Snippety Gibbet said...

I relayed this story to my third grade teacher's son at my reunion this week. She wrote a thank you note to me at the end of the school year in which she she said that she loved the gift I gave her; she wanted me to come see her; and signed it "your friend." Though I am pretty sure she wrote these identical words on twenty other notes that day, they meant enough to me that I remembered them 40 some years later.

I can relay several other small moments in my life in which I felt cherished by an adult. Those adults probably had no clue they made an impression on me.