1/3/2021: Asking The Well-Behaved Kids How They Are Feeling Too

Any time you get a chance to put your niece up as an example of the “well behaved, good kid,” to you take it. Her mom & dad may feel otherwise certain times of the day ;). Nah but she’s the sweetest. 

A community member sent me this tweet a few days ago from a psychologist & it really resonated: “Being a ‘good kid’ often meant being ‘mature’ – we were often praised for not having big feelings, not making messes, not making noise.  Thing is…kids really need to have big feelings, make messes, & make noise sometimes. ‘Good’ kids can often grow into anxious adults.”

Not sure if like my niece, I was a “good kid.” But there were times when I was very quiet. I have distinct memories of being in the car w my mom, countless times, & her saying: you’re being so quiet!

Things were for sure “going on.” I was just a thinker at the time, more than a talker.  I didn’t realize it then, but I had all the signs indicative of feeling anxious. W/ my brother sick so often, questions abt that scenario & all the what-it’s would pop in my head all the time.  I’d have some of the obsessive types of thoughts where I’d count trees as we drove by them or cars passing us (my mom wasn’t exactly Mario Andretti) to busy my mind away from more difficult thoughts.

When we see kids like that in school, or at our houses we think – “they’re not acting up, that’s the well-behaved kid.” We don’t see them running arnd causing a ruckus…or getting in trouble. But here’s the thing- the way WE see them is not the way they often see themselves.

Perception unfortunately is reality from an outsiders view. But we’ve all been living in our heads long enough to know – we have a whole world or “stuff” going on in our heads that we live every second of every day…that others can’t see.

Kid you not, I once had a teacher tell us on a zoom call, they ask their students (3rd grade), how everyone is, & the ones who reply “get” to sing a happy song to “lift up the others.”  Do we not realize everyone isn’t vocal in a group setting? That having the talkative kid sing may be forcing the other kids to ask – why aren’t I this happy?

We have to normalize ways to ask ALL kids, how they are feeling. Yes, even the “good ones.”  It’s why we created the #SameHere Scale that can be used individually/privately for each student/kid (can view in early posts on this page). But whatever the tool used, in whatever setting, we have to get away from the idea that the quiet/reserved/“good” kids, are fine…& that we only need to focus in the “problem” kids.  Think about how much healthier we’d send kids off into early adulthood if we made them comfortable sharing/knowing they aren’t alone in their thoughts.  This is something we need to start normalizing immediately.

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