I think a lot about habits. Things that we do and say automatically can save us valuable time and energy, but also we humans fail to examine what we don’t think about. I want to make sure that I’m not on autopilot. You know when you drive somewhere you’ve been many times and suddenly you’re there and you don’t know how? If you make decisions under stress, or from a tired place, you may end up being the kind of teacher or parent you didn’t intend to be when you first started out.
I want to be conscious of what I say to children as an adult, and I want to be conscious of the habits I am (unwittingly or not) instilling in the children I spend time with. Am I modeling and encouraging a “yes” mentality (as in, say yes whenever possible)? How am I doing that, or how could I do that better? And by the way, no matter how many years you have been spending time with children, there is always more to learn, there is always a new mentor to get excited about. Beware the people (parents or teachers) that have it all figured out!
One of my teaching mentors would say, “Act as if that child’s parent is on your shoulder before you say or do anything.” Would you be saying or doing things exactly the same way if you were being observed by the person that loves that child more than anything else in the whole world? Have you picked up some ideas from your own childhood about how adults should deal with unwanted behaviors? Your parents did they best they could, but you probably now know more than they did then about what works best with (and feels best for) young children who are still learning!