Have you ever tried to change a habit? Maybe you wanted to lose weight, start exercising or refrain from snapping at your spouse. Were you able to sustain your change right away or did it take you several attempts? Did you think, “I’m going to give up sugar,” one day and never eat sugar again? Or did you occasionally have sugar when you were feeling a little down, were celebrating a special event or just because it was there?
I need to remember how difficult it is to change a habit every time I ask a student to change one. Maybe I want them to stop blurting out in class or quit fidgeting when they’re on the rug. I continually have to remind myself that change is hard and when we’re tired, crabby, stressed, or even excited, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns. Change takes a lot of practice and a re-wiring of our brains.
I also need to remember that change is easier when someone is supportive rather than critical. If I had just started an exercise program, missed a day of exercise and my friend said, “You didn’t exercise today. You were supposed to exercise every Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” I might get a little defensive. On the other hand, if she said, “You didn’t exercise today. Why not? Don’t give up on your goal, Geva. You’ll get there; it just takes a lot of hard work,” I might be more encouraged to keep trying.
You get the idea. Even though kids’ habits drive me crazy at times, I’ll be a better teacher if I can remember that change can be hard. Really hard. And the more I support their attempts to change, the better the end result for both of us.