Disney aficionados think it is the happiest place on earth, but at LANK we feel our school provides children with the happiest moments found anywhere. The wooded playground, songs that accompany learning, friends holding hands, and a teacher’s love are all part of a wonderful beginning. Most of the time our days are filled with happy, smiling, skipping children! For some children, however, learning to navigate in a classroom where toys and attention are shared can be a challenging feat, and at times not so happy.
As parents, it is natural to want our children to be happy, but discomfort can provide our children valuable lessons on how to navigate in the world, label feelings, and develop self-esteem. During the first months of preschool, children can be a bit overwhelmed by the newness, be uncertain of classroom boundaries, and at times express unhappiness.
While we don’t advocate that a child ever be miserable, our job is to find the delicate balance between offering children choice, and setting limits that we know are in the best interests of the individual and whole group. It is inevitable in life that children will meet others that are unkind, participate in a sport or game that can have only one winner, experience the loss of a pet, have a best friend move away, or lose a beloved toy. When we allow our children the opportunity to be guided through unhappy times, we give our children a wonderful gift. The gift is the knowledge that they have the skillset to cope, the resilience to bounce back, and the tools to understand that unhappiness is a temporary state. Allowing a child to experience unhappiness and work through those feelings will ultimately result in a more competent, and happier child!