We work hard to have our actions match our words, all the time.
Children learn we are consistent, we mean what we say, we can be trusted. We are worthy of their faith in us.
It is easy to see the importance of this in helping children to become self-disciplined. If sometimes I let a child run and other times I stop her, is it okay to run? If I tell a child, “You can find your work, or I can help you,” and then I let her wander around the room, I am not following through.
If I don’t mean what I say when I tell a child, I cannot let you run in this classroom, do I mean it when I say, I won’t let anyone hurt you, or you are important, or I’m here to help you?
I am proving myself as reliable every time I speak and every time I act.
Following Through becomes an anthem, the responsibility of the adult when helping a child learn the rules of the classroom, how to carry herself with grace, how to treat her classmates and the classroom with respect.
Following Through is positive, too.
It is not only important to follow through when I say to a child who is “accidentally” pouring her water onto the floor, this water will be cleaned up before you go home. It is vital when I say, “I see you need some help, I’ll be right there.”
I cannot be diligent when you’re doing the wrong thing, and waiver when you’re doing the right thing.
I only mean what I say when you’re in trouble? That’s a terrible message.
I am following through when I see you picking up the trash that wasn’t yours and I give you a wink. I am following through when I whisper “thank you,” when you’re paired with the new three-year-old and you roll most of the time and she mostly makes a mess when trying her hardest. I am following through when I notice you staring, captivated, every time someone gets to help with the laundry, and I ask you. I am following through when I ask if you need help in the bathroom this time, or if you’d like to try yourself. I am following through when I notice you’re a bit tired, and ask if you’d like snack or perhaps a quiet moment in the library.
I am following through every time I notice and act.
I see you. I love and honor and respect you. Whether your behavior is representative of your best self or your testing self, your maturity or your impishness, tired end-of-day hungry or well-rested patient and kind. All of you is perfect and just as it should be. All of you is learning, work-in-progress, complete and whole. You are always doing the best you are able, with the skills you have at the time.
I must always be consistent, reliable, trustworthy. I must always Follow Through.
Here’s a podcast with more about this important way children learn how to interact with one another, how to show and expect respect, and how to balance personal needs with living in this community.
Did you know we’re on iTunes? Subscribe to the podcast here!
Written by:Charlotte Snyder