We can all probably agree that your kids are amazing! No, really, when you start to talk about kids your kids are more well behaved, smarter, better looking, etc. If you’re a parent that’s one thing, but I’m pretty sure that one day I’ll see a Grandparent Race on an EZ-GO at Target to prove that their Grandkids are better than the other Grandkid.
Every good parent thinks their kid is the greatest don’t they? The problem is that while we might think our kids are amazing we don’t want them to start to distance themselves from other kids that we don’t think are amazing, which would be any other kid. I’m not talking about hanging out with the wrong crowd, I’m talking about taking a look at another kid and singling them out as the “helpless one” or “troublemaker” or “problem child”.
Let me introduce you to Judah. He’s nine years old and attends a local school.
You see, Judah doesn’t live in a town with many of the other kids. He lives down a long dirt road in the woods and most days the bus has to wait on him running down the long driveway just to make it on time. As soon as he hops on the bus the other kids start to ask him if he is trying out for track this year since they need an easy win over someone. This is after they made him go to the back of the bus by not making space for him.
He then sits alone, staring out the window on the way to school wondering what if, just what if, there was something else out there.
He thinks: What would it take for people to not pick on me? What would it be like to have clothes that fit and are not still dirty from yesterday? Why don’t all of the other kids eat school lunch like he does? I mean where do you even get an awesome lunch box like their’s complete with matching thermos to keep lemonade cold in?
That doesn’t happen for Judah. He sits by himself, eats whatever he can at school, and devises a plan for other people to like him.
He’s going to be the center of attention. No matter what he’s going to raise his hand and make the most obnoxious answer he can. The kids will laugh and think he’s funny. The teacher will call on him so he’s recognized and shown that there is interest in his answer.
Oh, yes now there’s an opportunity to run from one group to the next! He knows that he was assigned to the blue group, but maybe it would be funny if he sneaks up behind Beth and tapped her on the shoulder. They’ll see him for sure and the next thing you know the teacher will call on him again.
It’s going to be a great day! Except that, it covers up what he’s really thinking. “I just want to be looked at like all the other kids for who I am”.
Things are not perfect for him at home. Mom and Dad work a lot to keep everything together so there really isn’t a lot of guidance for how he should act. By the time they get to him, they’re exhausted or it’s too late to see him and he’s in bed.
Judah would love it if another adult would give him a little focused attention.
What if you had a chance to make an impact on Judah’s life? What if what you did made a lasting impact on what he does with his life?
3 Simple Ways to Make and Immediate Impact on Kids
Get Down on Their Level
- I don’t have the science to back this up, but there’s something very interesting when you kneel down to talk to a kid right in their eyes. There is this immediate connection that helps them realize you are devoted to them right at this moment. You’re not physically looking down on them and you’re not disciplining them. They just have something to say and by kneeling down they start to look at you just a little different than the other adults.
“By kneeling down to a child they start looking up to you.”
Ask About Something They’re Interested In
- When you start a conversation with a kid about what they want to talk about they think you can read their mind and they start to put their defenses down. A simple trick is to look at what character, sport or color is on their shirt. “Who’s your favorite Super Hero” or “Wow, you know Red is my favorite color too” are great for the first icebreaker.
“Interest in them builds attention to you.”
Thank Them for How They are Acting and Your Time Together
- Not all kids hear “Thank You” very often. Many times they hear more negative comments than positive comments. It takes almost 6 positive comments to overcome the impact of a negative comment in a team and the same can be correlated to kids. (Harvard Business Review) By thanking them or recognizing that they have a positive quality, it builds their self-esteem and builds trust with you.
“Thank you” instantly builds confidence.
I’ve been blessed to have an impact on kids like Judah. Certainly, there are times that you are so exhausted with their behavior that you want to throw your hands up and run to the kid that is playing nicely with others. But when I’ve been in a situation with a “Judah” like this, these steps have helped me bridge a connection between running around and being respectful.
Kids that see you kneel down, talk to them about what they’re interested in and tell them to thank you, start to be an example. They start to realize that there is hope for them. There are adults out there who are willing to help them find their purpose and use their gifts.
A Like, Comment, or even Sharing with other people in your community can help us continue to have a positive impact on kids everywhere. Please let me know if there are other ideas that you have had that we can add to these thoughts above.