This past week has been eventful, to say the least. With the winter break quickly approaching the emotions have reached new heights all around from the school staff and students to the general public. Many times these feelings are centered around fear and anxiety.
Two Weeks Without School?
Winter break isn’t pleasant for all students. Often we expect happiness and joy to be expressed during December months, but that’s not the reality for some of the students we serve. Heck, that’s not the reality for some of our staff and colleagues either. It’s vital that we recognize and empathize with those around us.
When I notice unwanted behaviors of those I serve (students and adults), I often find that humble inquiry works best for attempting to see their perspective.
“How are you?”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Might there be something I need to know to see your perspective better?”
It’s incredible the doors that open when I can get a glimpse into the mind of the students or staff members with whom I see day in and day out. When they feel safe to share a little vulnerability, I have the opportunity to empathize with them and many times help navigate next steps to relieve some of the anxiety.
A Few of My Favorite Things
When I was in the classroom, I worked in an inner-city school serving 90% of our students free and reduced lunches. Therefore, being fed over the winter break (and any break) was one of their main concerns. As the holidays would approach, frustrated behaviors were the norm. As I’d engage the students in conversation (leading with humble inquiry), they would often share with me their fear of having food to eat. I could relate to this fear; I was once that kid.
I realized quickly there were many things I simply could not change for my students. However, I worked hard to find areas where I could support their needs. To alleviate the fear of being fed, I worked with our social worker and contacted our local food bank and grocery store. The local grocery store had a limited number of food vouchers and would deliver a fully cooked holiday meal to families in need. It was amazing!
And, the food bank would provide easy to prepare meals that would last a good portion of the break.
So before each break, I would contact the families (whom I had established relationships with) and asked them if this might be helpful. Once approved, I would get my students signed up and set up delivery arrangements.
It was amazing how the behaviors changed, and our relationships grew stronger–not only with the students but with their families.
It’s Not About the Presents
It’s not about the presents.
For some, it’s fear of having their basic needs met.
So, what do they do to let you know they are fearful to enter the holiday break?
They do anything they can do to get you mad at them.
Why? Because, it’s easier to walk away from their “safe-haven” if they are angry. In fact, if we stop to think about it, I’ve found that a child’s logic isn’t that far off from that of our’s, as adults.
Knowing some might need a little extra this season is key.
Being present affords us opportunities to catch a glimpse of another lens-of-life.
With the adults I work alongside, I often find they don’t need a prepared meal, but their heart is hurting, and they might need a little hug. I don’t know about you, but to me…hugs work wonders. In fact, I believe hugs speak volumes when words just won’t do.
So be present during this holiday season. It’s far more meaningful than a pile of wrapped gifts.