I had an interaction with my 9-year old daughter this morning regarding her cardboard house. She wanted to go outside and check on it because we left it in the rain the other night. It is now all dry, but warped and ripped in some places.
“It’s wrecked!” my daughter exclaims.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“It’s all broken and the door is almost falling off!”
As quickly as she disappointedly says this she abandons the house and says she’s going to ride on her scooter. I can’t help but look at this little house, after all the hours spent colouring it with her friends and assembling it with the help of her dad, and see it as something more.
The warped house stands there alone in the yard very similar to The Land of Misfit Toys in the classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It is suddenly not good enough to be played with. Or is it?
This makes me think of the classroom and how many times students do a piece of art work and then crumple it up because they don’t deem it as being good enough, or they begin but give up because of fear they don’t feel they can meet the high standards they have set in their own minds. This could also be a math assignment or even playing a game in the gym during Health. Of course, the students do not consciously think this but act as if they do not care. I believe they DO care. I believe there is such a high concern of not being good enough academically, socially, physically, etc. that students will sometimes choose flight as their response to a challenge or difficulty.
Having a growth mindset is so important to be able to tackle hiccups as they occur. I know this, but at times struggle with HOW to reach those students who turn inward and shut down when they begin to feel discouraged or give up altogether. These are also those “teachable moments” regarding perseverance, resilience and not yet that teachers need to seize.
With my daughter and the warped house, I know she is an anxious girl and at times she chooses avoidance as a way of coping with her disappointment. I will give her the time she needs and then when she is back we will look at that house together through a different lens.
Through guidance, support, and gentle encouragement who knows what will become of this cardboard house. I am looking forward to the discussion.