Working with children takes every ounce of energy I have and then some and possibly a glass of red at the end of the day. Their enthusiasm never ceases to bring me right into their moment, of course it helps that my career is centred around children and their behaviour. After 20 years I still have nothing that concrete to give you, no magic answers. I see patterns, I see uniqueness and I see endless possibilities with each an every child. It all takes time, patience, tears, laughter and at times a hell of a lot of support. Sometimes the answer is simple, sometimes it is not so simple but we get there with lots of thinking outside the box.
So after 20 years one pattern I have really noticed and saddens me to say is on the rise is that children as young as four are showing signs of stress. Stress that is debilitating in exactly the same way it is with us grown-ups. The stress the children are demonstrating is showing up in their behaviour. Presenting itself in different ways in their behaviour from being exhausted at school, over emotional, meltdowns and general ‘misbehaviour’. Now still taking into account a child’s individuality in that one child may cope really well with four after school activities a week, not all will, this is not the so-called ‘norm’. In saying that the new ‘norm’ that I am seeing at work daily is that activities after school are increasing for each individual child. Some children are not coping with so much on their plate. I am loathed to subject children to labels, I see the child, their diagnosis gives me some ideas of how to assist them. For me to announce that children are stressed is a big deal. Children should not be portraying levels of stress due to over commitment.