You Will Not Hear it From Us!

Many of us grew up hearing the phrase, “You’re okay!” from the people in our lives.  As adults, we sometimes take for granted the meaning behind the words we use. Some of the words used to define the term are, “fairly good; acceptable; not ill, hurt, or unhappy.”  (Retrieved September 28, 2015 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/okay).  When a child is crying because they are hurt or because they are having a hard time saying goodbye, they are definitely not feeling satisfactory! Although our well-intentioned comments may seem to thwart the upset in the short term, it can convey something completely different to the child in the long-term.

Saying “You’re okay” can cause semantic confusion for children as they are learning new words to use in the speaking vocabulary! Instead, practice noticing and describing what you see. For example, use the following: “Your hands are going like this (clinging on to Mom). Your eyes are going like this (I see tears coming from your eyes.)” When the child feels understood, they may begin to cry harder. Empathy is a wonderful tool for helping children understand very powerful feelings. At this point, we can now acknowledge what has caused the state of upset, “It’s hard to say goodbye in the morning. I will be back.” Another example might be, “You were hoping to be the first one to the car, but your sister got there first. You can handle this!”

Young children’s language and vocabulary growth is heavily reliant upon their environment. If we teach a crying child who is hurt that they are “okay,” they come to understand that someone can be okay when they are clearly hurting! A second reason you will not hear, “You’re okay” at the Weekday School is that, again, although the phrase is given with well wishes, it actually skips over what the child is feeling at that moment. One of the goals of any social-emotional curriculum/philosophy is to help children learn about emotional states. We can do this by talking about emotions through the use of pictures, but, more importantly, we can discuss them as children are feeling them. Through this, we are actively modeling empathy, and helping our children develop and hone information regarding emotions!

For more information about language development, please click on the following link: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/young-childrens-oral-language-development

For more information about acknowledging children’s emotions, please click on the following link:

http://www.janetlansbury.com/2012/03/my-child-is-not-okay/

References:

Merriam-Webster. (2015). Dictionary. Retrieved September 28 2015 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/okay

 

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