Tripping Over Treasures

 

By Danita Wright, LCSWR, LCC Psychotherapist

Recently I sat in a church conference as our Bishop spoke about our youth, admonishing us not to “trip over our treasures.”  This statement resonated with me because I have always been drawn to and loved working with young people, who are truly ‘our treasures’.  

When do we take the time to look into the eyes of and listen to the hearts of ‘our treasures’?  As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I am seeing more and more children with anxiety and depression, often because they are isolated and lack the ability to utilize critical social skills necessary to navigate the world.  So many of our children also have been placed in the most uncomfortable and destructive positon to referee broken marriages and parental relationships.  

There are some basic recommendations for a successful childhood as published by childtrends.org in their “2017 Flourishing from the Start” report. They are as follows:  

  • Self-regulation: A child’s ability to recognize and control impulses, manage stress and emotions, and exert self-control
  • Attachment: A child’s positive relationship to, feelings of safety with, and trust in a parent or caregiver; co-regulation 
  • Engagement/approaches to learning: Cognitive, emotional, and behavioral engagement; interest, curiosity 
  • Communication: The child’s ability to verbally and non-verbally express needs, preferences, and emotions, and to listen and respond to the communications of others
  • Positive relationships with siblings and peers: Empathic, open, warm, giving, and supportive interactions with other children 
  • Executive functioning: Cognitive processes that underline planning, goal-directed activity, and problem-solving, including attention, working memory, and inhibitory control 
  • Positive self-concept and orientation to life: Compassion for self, optimism, meaning, and hope for life 
  • Age-appropriate self-care: The child’s ability and motivation to do things for him/herself

So what does this all mean? And who is responsible? It means that we are all individually responsible for ensuring that the youth in our lives (at church, home, school, or community) have someone that looks into their eyes and hears their hearts. That someone is not afraid of the language, styles, music, and norms that are foreign to them.  It means that even when we are pushed away we continue to reach out because that young person is our future as a parent, entrepreneur, pastor, bishop, president, lawyer, doctor, teacher, policeperson, bus driver and contributor to society 

Frederick Douglass famously said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” His prescient words need to be taken seriously — and acted upon — in 2018. The consequences of not investing wisely in children will be higher costs down the road (http://www.aecf.org/resources/2017-kids-count-data-book/) So let’s pay attention, become engaged and watch where we are headed so that we are not “tripping over our treasures”. 

Danita Wright, LCSW-R, counsels children, teens, adults and families at LCC’s Mineola counseling site.
 

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