Doesn’t it seem like the older you get, the more stressful life becomes? Then, I go to work and am reminded that there are also 5 year olds who are struggling, stressed, and resistant to growing.
Just yesterday, I checked in with a small kindergarten boy who’s only 5. He lives with Grandmother, dad is not in the picture, and mom sees him sporadically. He’s been in PAC several times already (in-school suspension) and is having a hard time adjusting the high expectations of kindergarten. So, grandmother came in yesterday for a meeting with teacher, assistant principal, PAC teacher, and myself to see what we can do to help him. She explained that he was born addicted to pain pills and spent 3 months in the hospital at birth! Now, being born drug dependent is going to be enough of a life-long challenge, but when you couple that with a dysfunctional family, it’s hard. He has an uphill battle that is absolutely not his fault. It’s the cards he’s been dealt.
Another boy this week, only nine and in the same grade as Brody, disclosed that he thinks about killing himself and sometimes hurts himself. His mother died when he was 14 months. And, he also lives with grandmother. He’s ADHD and thinks he’s stupid because he can’t focus. I’ve been told he’s made a lot of progress since he was in kindergarten and first grades but he’s struggling to feel like he’s “smart and a good kid” since he also was in PAC this week.
What are you going to do? We can’t expect them to be like other kids but we also can’t stop believing they can change and grow.
They are hurting. Many people are. Old and young, big and small. We hurt when things don’t go the way we hoped, when we wish we had different circumstances, or when we feel rejected. Life is challenging but isn’t also an opportunity to grow out of hard circumstances? Change takes work, and work is hard. Some of us live with misfortunes and unfair challenges. Many children do. But, we have a choice:
- We can choose to grow ….. OR,
- We can choose to stay stuck.
I’ve realized that growing and changing hurts. Whether it’s getting in shape and taking on a new physical challenge, like training for a marathon, or just getting out of bed and getting dressed, it’s not always something we want to do. It takes consistent practice.
When a child is acting out or extra emotional, we know they are struggling internally. Maybe they are truly having a growth spurt and are extra cranky or moody. Maybe they need extra food, sleep, and time alone. Or, maybe, they are acting out because they don’t understand how to get to the next stage of development. They are resisting do the hard work it will take to be like others. Learning and growing takes work but being stuck doesn’t feel good either!
I’ve noticed some of the kids I’ve worked with over the years are acting out because they are stalled at place where a need stopped being met. They haven’t achieved that love and acceptance that they needed at an early age and they are emotionally stuck. And, they hurt because they want to be different, to feel different. Adults aren’t that different.
Growing is not without aches and pains. Self awareness and development is painful because we face some things we may not like. But, we can grow out of that. Personally, I’ve recently experienced this. I’ve realized that growth may take work, conscientious steps, patience, reminders, support and help from others. This stuff is not easy. Yet, we can resist and get stuck ,or fight through these pains and grow. Growing is what we are born to do, physically and spiritually.
The rewards are not instantaneous, and the work may be a pain and hurt. But, don’t resist the work and the chance to change. Believing in others and wanting them to change isn’t naive; it’s hopeful. With our children, our friends, spouses, or even strangers, we can remember that it’s normal to feel pain with this training regime. We can help each other not quit by encouraging and accepting that milestones will be reached at different times because each of us face different challenges. Physical and mental growth takes time, and that’s hard!
No path is universal. No metamorphosis is the same. Just like the drug-dependent baby who grows into a overstimulated and easily angered kindergartener, the challenges we face will all be different. Sometimes growth will come naturally, while other times the change will take a lot of effort and time. But, when we see a soul, young or old, in pain, we can believe and help them understand they are growing….changing….and moving towards a better place.
As adults, we can remind ourselves this too. Change is painful. Growth is hard because it’s stretching out of our comfort zone. But, being stuck is worse. If we keep practicing and continue to believe something better is ahead, we can end up in a better place than where we started…. and that’s worth the sweat!