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Building Trust With Students


Meenakshi R. Ganesh 

Counsellor and wellness facilitator, Sri Kumarans Children's Home, Mallasandra


Meenakshi's journey in the field of mental health started when she began working on herself first and began understanding the importance of self work in her professional career choice. She also believes that it's of prime importance while entering a world of working with emotions. 


She is inspired to work with children of different age groups, and believes that compassion, humour and acceptance are the driving forces of healing and change.

 

It was on a day when my dear student went on to win many medals and was being cheered for his interest and involvement with nature. Little did I know later that day, I would have him in my counselling space to discuss many things about his other aspects of life. 


As a counsellor/facilitator, I’m blessed to meet children from all walks of life with their own troubles and journeys that they would share about and seek support and guidance with. Every once in a while, a student with a burst of creative energy and high resistance to authority walks into our professional lives and changes the way we question teaching methodologies and support strategies.


 It was on that afternoon my journey with this extremely loving child began. He was quick in saying ‘NO’ to most things adults would suggest and guide him with. I recall thinking out loud along with my coordinator that all that this child needs is patience from all the adults around him. It is vital for the educators to be in sync while interacting with children who are having a hard time. The teachers were on board with learning kinder ways to respond to classroom conflicts and win his trust.


As most educators, we know that without establishing trust there would be very little learning. Every time he said ‘NO’, we would give him another chance, another chance and another, because while children forgive easily, most adults forget the power of letting go.


His ‘NO’s’ and ‘Nein’ were indicators for every adult to come up with new ways of getting him to finish his work. ‘NO’s’ are powerful in a way of making us realise that if there are a 100 ways to resolve a conflict, there’s a 101 and a 102 that we need to start thinking of and putting into action. And to be able to problem solve and work on resolving day to day behavioural nuances, I find it extremely important to have a mindset of never giving up on working with the child. Working with the child involves having difficult conversations with your fellow colleagues, disagreeing, agreeing and reaching a middle ground with the child being the focus always.


I say this because each one of us is a role model for children the minute we step into the school. I’m learning and I continue to learn everyday with small changes and conscious effort. We refer to school as a second home. What does home feel like? What makes a home comforting? These questions are vital to add to our interactions with children, because some children are seeking for that home when they enter school.


’ve had the experience of witnessing a breakthrough moment with this child, and it is the most precious moment that I will cherish throughout my professional career. I’ve had heart warming, touching, happy and tearful moments with children, some stand out more than the others simply because it surprises you with the capabilities and endless possibilities right when you’ve felt like you’ve reached a dead end. 


Eight months from that afternoon, I saw him seated outside of class cutting paper for making decorations. He looked at me and said NEIN! We had a conversation about Nein and then laughed a little, as he stood up he was ready to hear me out and I was firm, we had established respect and the nein became ‘JA’


There is no one method to work with children, what works in one moment may fail in the next attempt. Learning on the job never stops. Children look for responses and not reactions. Reactions often stem from a personal and a subjective standpoint, to which children get confused and often defy.


Educators in the classroom began rethinking different ways of engaging with this child and getting him to develop interest. Suggestions and ideas were put forth to make learning more inclusive. Mainstream education is restrictive, although I also believe that it forces educators to think quick on their feet when faced with any sort of challenges in the  classroom.


Educators new in the field have so much to offer in terms of ideas and methodologies. When the experienced and the freshers come together with an open and a growth mindset, children flourish and change in ways that one could not have foreseen. I write this with my own journey of having interacted and working with very experienced and senior mentors as I entered my career path in 2017.

 

The next time you hear a child saying ‘NO’ or being defiant; it’s your time to grow along with the child.

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