Lessons in Acceptance and Self Awareness from our Youth


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of catching up with my college roommate from over 25 years ago. One of the most thoughtful and insightful people I know, Karen is a therapist in Seattle. After catching up on our lives, children, husbands and the like, our conversation turned to work. We marveled at how open younger generations are to counseling. I explained that when the guidance counselor comes to my classroom door to pick up a student, no one bats an eye. Karen shared that she witnessed the same acceptance of her college-aged clients.

We contrasted this phenomenon to members of our parents’ generation who have, as my friend Allison once said, “A 1950s view of therapy”. Bury it and move on! We agreed that many of the people we know from our generation are open to therapy but we discovered it later in our adult lives. We mused: imagine how much better off we would have been if we had learned about mindfulness and wellbeing earlier in life? The recent trend to include social emotional learning in school curriculums seems to be a testament to this lesson of our generation.

SEL in our OLW

My conversation with Karen made me think about sharing One Little Word with my fifth graders. This week, for Poetry FriYay, I encouraged students to write a poem inspired by their One Little Word (OLW). I am amazed at their ability to not only grasp the concept of selecting a word that embodies their hopes for the year, but also their willingness to reflect on and explore the word. What moved me most was a poem written by a student who struggles with debilitating anxiety. She chose the word, “calm” as her OLW. Not only does her writing beautifully capture the feeling of anxiety, but it also reveals the depths of her self awareness and gives me great fatih in her ability to heal and overcome her struggles.

A student's poem inspired by her OLW: CALM

Keeping me grounded

As I wrote previously, my one little word for 2021 is “become”. While a My Intent bracelet is on its way, wearing a reminder of my word plays a huge role in helping me keep it front and center in my life, sharing the concept of OLW with my students provides an additional opportunity to reflect on the power this word can have in my life. My students serve as a model for self-acceptance and self-awareness.

2 thoughts on “Lessons in Acceptance and Self Awareness from our Youth”

  1. I practice OLW and buy a bracelet on Mudlove every year. This year I am wearing Inspire daily and your post inspired me to go back to our One Little Words from a few weeks ago to write poems. I find writing poems with young students really brings out their emotions and helps them feel more confident. Your “calm” writer is an example of this. She is a wise poet.

  2. I agree with you! It’s healthy for kids and adults to be transparent with social-emotional self-awareness and skill building. Poetry is such a powerful form for exploring feelings and needs.

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