This I Believe

Brenda - San Diego, California
Entered on January 14, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: children

My Mini Attention Convention

I believe children need attention, and lots of it.

Straight out of my freshman year in college, I signed up with Camp Adventure to go to Spain and serve our military men and women’s families. Months before our highly anticipated journey, us counselors went under countless hours of training on child psychology and safety; not to mention learning more games and songs than I even knew existed. This was all done to prepare for our summer abroad. While in Spain, my primary purpose was being a camp counselor and mainly friends to the servicemen and women’s children.

The theory of when a child acts out they want attention, became too real for me that summer. Being around misbehaved children wore me out and sometimes I forgot they could be crying out for an underlying reason. There was one child named “Dennis” in my group of seven year olds who was constantly misbehaving and hitting other children. When I was ready to give up on him, another counselor and myself got together. We strategized how to modify his behavior by implementing suggestions from our training manual. When these did nothing to change his behavior, I tried listening to him and giving him extra attention. I soon learned that his mother and father were both deployed in the desert and that he was living with his stepfather, also in the military. Being in daycare all day, five days a week with three step-siblings, there was not much one-on-one time for Dennis.

Being a child that thrived on attention myself, perhaps I saw a little of me in him. When I started showing him more of the attention he craved, his behavior changed for the better. Sitting at his table at lunch and letting him be line leader were simple things that dramatically changed his outlook. It took time, but he changed his attitude about his “daycare” and started to look at it is a positive way. By the end of summer, he had made a few friends and a sense of confidence had emerged.

Though I often felt exhausted after my long 13 hours of camp, I left feeling good. It was important to me to give as much attention as I could with out going crazy.

Praise and acknowledgement are what children need to thrive. I believe that children should receive attention, and lots of it.