Monday, March 5, 2012

Be aware and present to what is going on with our children

My recent trip to Disneyland, showed that most trips to Disneyland are not child led but adult driven.

An critical step in effective parenting is letting go of our own agenda--what our children should be, instead seeing them for who they are.

Unfortunately good intentions, even good parenting is not enough with the children we're discussing here. While I would not attempt to adequately describe even one of those three types in this space, suffice to say they/we (myself included) are very different than 'normal' folks. We experience the world differently. I was one of these kids and now I work with them every day.

As an identifiable group, we make up 15%-20% of the children today--that's millions of children in the US, alone. Out of the millions, only a small percentage turn violent. Research show that as many as half of these children will manage to find a niche in society that allows them to be relatively successful. Many find their actions driven by fear rather than anger. Many others self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. And a fair percentage give up on the idea of succeeding or fitting in with society and wind up in our courts and jails.

Identifying, understanding and helping these children takes more than good intentions. It takes education and experience. Many of my parents are shocked at the accuracy with which I can describe the struggles their children are having and the struggles that they are having with their children with just a bit of information or a short evaluation. Every often the children are shocked. I recall one very troubled girl turning the her mother saying, "How does he know what's inside my head?"

Dr. Sears, T. Berry Brazelton and many other child specialists are awesome in their advice to parents of 'normal' children. But these children(we) are not normal. Normal parenting books don't apply. Any most of the books and advice that I've read for parenting the ADHD child, the Defiant Child and so on, are for the most part, nonsense.

They seen to be written by well-meaning folks who want to help parents or teachers or counselors turn these other children into normal children. They want to help us think, learn and act like normal children. In my experience it's not going to happen.

Probably the biggest difference between the work I do with children and the work of others is I don't make them wrong for who they are. I'm not trying to change them or help them be like the other kids. I don't compare them to 'normal' kids. I simply try to understand them and appreciate them for who they are. I help them develop their natural gifts to support them in their goals--their agenda. I help them believe in themselves.

BTW - this group of children--the same group of children that are at risk--these are the children that ultimately shape our world (for good or ill). These children are the creative, often driven, outside-the-box thinkers, who defy convention, defy 'what is' in pursuit of that which does not yet exist. They(we) are not deterred by social conventions nor are we constrained by current memes. We exist at the boundary of chaos--when new ideas and new possibilities are born.

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