To find your place in this “crazy, mixed up world” is a significant triumph. How do you know that you’ve stumbled upon it? Maybe by process of elimination of all other existing pathways that lead to the same endpoint. Maybe you just like hanging out there. Whatever the reason, you know that you have found your place because it feels like home.
For a child who feels like they don’t fit anywhere, however, finding their place becomes that much more important. Connection is the foundation of belonging, and it takes time to build those relationships. So once they’ve found their place, it’s a good thing to put down some roots, stay in one spot, and help them cultivate those connections.
This is not an easy thing to do. I should know because staying in one spot has never been my forte. See, I’m a mover and shaker. I like to mix things up and travel, live abroad, have a garage sale and take only what I could fit into my little Corolla. Throughout my travels, I was fortunate to make a lot of connections and friendships around the world, but it wasn’t until later on that I saw the value in putting down roots. Somewhere along the way I realized that without stable connections there is no community.
For our kiddos who struggle with initiating connections and having community, we must think long-term from the get go. How will my child, my student, my patient perceive themselves in 10 years based on the community they are in right now? As we all know, it’s not about the quantity of friends but rather the quality. Really, we just need one good friend, like we talked about here. Undoubtedly, connections define how we fit in our group, and our groups are the foundation of our security and self-confidence. Children who struggle with a learning difference, behavior challenge, or social skills need often struggle more with the complexity of where they fit amongst their peer group. But like their typically developing peers, their self-esteem is also wrapped up in what their friends think of them, which, if negative, can impact their self-identity in the long-term. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your child is making connections with the right group and has the right community to fit their needs. They, too, need to find their place–their home away from home.
When I look back at all my travels, I am grateful I had the chance to meet and greet so many different types of people and feel connected in the short-term. Now that I’ve come to the point in life where I am happy to stay put, I realize the value even more in forming lasting relationships, community, and connection. I’ve finally found my place, and it feels good to say that I’m home.
Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student, combining Academic Support, Behavior Support, and Education Advocacy to bridge the gap between home and school in order to serve the whole student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com