As CATS, Inc. planned this month’s blog post, we made a deliberate decision to write it before election results from November 8, 2016, were available. We thought long and hard about this, knowing that regardless of the outcome of the election there will be both jubilant celebration and profound disappointment. This year’s election has undoubtedly had a profound impact on people across the country, including young children and their families. It is to be expected that there will continue to be animosity from those whose campaigns were unsuccessful. As someone who works with young children every day, think about what you can do to help restore a balance.
Whether we like it or not, for the last several months children have been exposed to both words and actions of adults in a way that isn’t typical. Early childhood professionals like you are role models for young children in a way that many people may not think about. Especially in family child care programs, providers are with these children for a large portion of their day. Everything you say and do is witnessed by children, even if you believe they’re involved in something else. Most providers constantly monitor their language so that it’s appropriate for young children to hear but do you do the same thing with your body language? Think about the messages you’re giving children when you aren’t speaking. Are they positive ones or something else? Are children seeing or hearing things on radio or television that are confusing to them or that are inappropriate for them to hear? If you’ve been conscientious about this during campaigning, continue to monitor what the children you work with are exposed to each day.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION SKILLS
Adults around the country have become frustrated with the negative campaign messages that were prevalent this year. Be aware that at least for a time after results are final, there will continue to be negative comments made. Don’t be afraid to talk with children about what they’re seeing and hearing. You probably use conflict resolution skills every day in your program. When you hear children use negative messages with each other, help them look for different words to say what they mean. Explain the difference between positive words and negative words and talk about how both types “feel” to people. Help them look for other ways to describe their feelings or to resolve a situation. When children learn conflict resolution skills they are better prepared to use those skills throughout their lives. What a wonderful gift you give the future when you help children develop social emotional skills in your program.
DEALING WITH YOUR OWN REACTIONS
Experts have suggested that this has been an unusually trying time for adults and that your emotional response to the outcome of the elections may be difficult to deal with. Be prepared for your own feelings and take the time to address them. Look for your own “support” group if you need one but recognize that you aren’t the only one experiencing a sense of disequilibrium. Remember that the holidays – another stressful time – are just around the corner. Think about what you need to be the best “you” there is and make sure you have that available. Routines are important, good nutrition is critical, and acknowledging your feelings is vital. Take care of yourself so you can take care of the children in your program every day.