Favorite color, favorite book, favorite actor … we all have our ‘favorites’! So do we have also have our favorite child?
Most conscientious parents would like to believe that they do not differentiate between their children. Studies indicate otherwise. You cannot love two children in the same way as both of them are not identical in their behavior, sensitivity or interaction with us. Each child brings out his or her set of responses from people around him or her. While dealing with a group of children most educators and facilitators agree that they have had their set of favorites. Does this impact communication between teachers and students?
Interestingly during one of my workshops, I had posed this question to a set of kindergarten teachers. None of them had a neutral response. Shocking right? They stated various habits, mannerisms and even socioeconomic background as reasons for disliking some children. Now this personal bias may arise towards a talkative child, a truant child or even a child who brags about his parents’ wealth.
Intrigued by this discussion, we probed into the underlying reasons for liking or disliking children and common expectations of most teachers. Could it be disciplinary or academic issues or is it the tidiness of a child? Most kindergarten teachers are used to dealing with children who stick their fingers in mud, spill water all over their uniforms and even lick the floor! Such behavior may cause irritation but does not necessarily lead to disliking of a child. A majority of kindergarteners have ‘untidiness’ issues. Then what is it that strongly evokes a negative reaction in a person? After an intense discussion and many group activities later we established that a non-responsive child was commonly disliked by that group. What is non-responsiveness? Does it refer to an introvert child, or a difficult child or an autistic child? It is none of these in particular actually!
Each child has his or her way of dealing with the environment. They must combat difficult situations thrown at them, and also challenge these difficulties to enhance their life-skills. A child that simply does not make the effort to ‘enhance’ or ‘combat’ makes it difficult for the caretaker to understand his or her needs leading to increased frustration. This reminded me of a child that I had interacted with during my earlier years of practice. She would often cry in class for hours together without any particular reason. She would do this every day, every week and almost every class – irrespective of the teacher. Despite asking she would not have a definitive reason for crying. She had no family, social or psychological issues, nor was there any academic issue. The closest we came to understanding her trouble was that she disliked being away from her brother. She made it difficult for her caretakers, teachers and even her brother to help her. She made no effort to improve her situation either. It required clinical intervention to help her deal with her issues in a new environment. But by then this child had manage to irk most of the teachers around her… So as parents, caregivers or as teachers what do you think? Does a responsive child evoke a positive response from us? Does non-responsiveness of a child make it difficult to interact with him or her? Are we pre-designed to being biased?