This morning I was reminded of a term Stuart Shanker and Susan Hopkins use all the time, “soft eyes”. The basic idea is to see the child and the associating behaviour through a softer lens. Now, this is not easy and this week has been one in where I have often struggled to show my own children those soft eyes. My kids have been sick one after another this week and just when they all got better my son was up all night screaming and crying. This, of course, is an automatic area where you as a parent are unregulated and like many, I lost my cool. However, last night I was reminded why having soft eyes are so important. So for the second night in a row my son woke up on the hour screaming. My first reaction was to scream in my head and instantly want to cry but instead, I went into my son’s room and held him. He instantly melted in my arms and quieted down. My wife asked me what I did and to be honest I am not too sure. However, at that moment I was reminded to always try and reframe behaviour and what having those soft eyes do to the child and myself.
Often I would have (and did the night before) lose my temper, which didn’t help the matter. In fact, my son got even worse. However, the moment I was nonthreatening and calmly approached him he quieted right down.
Now I know in the school system we have some big problems where we have to show a tougher side but to be honest most situations we don’t. “Soft eyes” helps us show that compassionate side of us as teachers. It helps you stay regulated and most importantly it has a bigger effect on students behaviour than taking that tougher line. When I remember “soft eyes”, I am also reminded that all children want to be good. I don’t think you will ever find a child who purposely goes out of their way to be evil or mean. Their behaviour is often rooted in reasons and yes I know as teachers we have so many things to juggle but you will continue to build better relationships with children when you remember those soft eyes. Just something I was pondering this morning. Love to hear your thoughts.
If you are interested in reading more here is some great resource for all teachers to look at: