Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

Kids are people too


I was talking with one of my college classes recently about what they had learned over the course of the semester. One of the things that came up several times was, in a nutshell:

Kids are people too.

I thought this was an interesting observation because most of the students in my class were family studies or psychology majors, and presumably had studied and been around children quite a bit. So, I asked them to elaborate on that thought. What they shared is applicable to anyone who knows and spends time with children, and to children and adolescents themselves.

The main two points that my students made were these:

1. Children have thoughts, feelings, and responses to the things that happen around them just like adults. They said that sometimes they think that adults forget that whatever happens in a child’s life will impact them now, and most likely in their later life. It’s worth remembering this if you have children in your life. Sometimes it’s easy to just try to gloss things over and not really spend time talking with children about what is happening in their lives, but that’s not helpful in the long run. For example, if your family is going through a divorce, or a loved one has died, the children in the family need to be talked with about what’s going on. Don’t assume that you can just make huge changes without talking with them about it.

2. Children are able to talk with you about what they’re thinking, feeling, etc. As a part of one assignment, I had my students interview a child. Several of them shared that when they saw that, they thought I was crazy. Of course an 8-year-old wouldn’t be able to talk with them about the pros and cons of daycare. Right? It turns out I wasn’t crazy after all! What the students found out is that when you care to ask, and ask in a way that they will understand, children are able to share amazing insights with you.

Both of these points go back to the conversation started in previous posts about talking with children about identity and sexuality. While adults may be uncomfortable talking about some of these issues, if you begin when a child is young, they won’t be uncomfortable. They’ll be able to ask you questions, tell you about things they’ve seen or overheard, get your feedback on it, and so forth. And isn’t that what we really want and what our children really need? The research tells us that children want to be able to talk with adults that they’re close to about sexuality. When we understand that they are people too, and that they want to and will talk with us about their feelings and thoughts, we are able to open that door for them.

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This entry was posted on December 15, 2010 by in For Teens and Tweens, Recognizing, Talking and tagged , , , .
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