OPINION – In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity that is often understood as the ability of a physical system to do work on other physical systems.
Most people easily grasp this concept when thinking about their cars or pushing a shopping cart. However, most people totally ignore the concept of human emotional energy.
We need to take more responsibility for the energy we bring. Here is a great example. You walk into a restaurant and no one speaks. Not even the people who work there. You wait 15 minutes until the maitre de walks up and says “follow me.” How would that make you feel? Would you be agitated or angry? Would you say something to the waiter? Would you leave a large tip? Regardless of the question, your impression of the restaurant and your conduct has most likely been altered, although no one has physically touched you. They have made an effect on you with the energy that they bring to the room.
This same emotional energy is very important for today’s kids. Not only your biological kids, but all kids whom may cross your path.
What kind of energy are you bringing to our youth? An effortless gesture such as a smile or a compliment can go such a long way. Our youth are deeply influenced by their relationships. This is particularly true for students of color.
Research has shown that students of color tend to be “field dependent” which is a learning style where data is processed based upon information provided by the outer world or their surroundings. Field dependent students rely on approval from the group to fuel their opinions. Unfortunately, a lot of kids (and particularly males of color) are met with low expectations and environments that are excessively punitive.
Kids of color tend to internalize these negative expectations. What kind of surroundings are you providing in your home? Do you drop your kids off at school? Do you tell your kids to have a great day? Do you ask your kids what they have learned today? Do you compliment them when they give you a great answer? Do you recognize kids when they show manners or responsibility? These are all opportunities to bring positive energy.
As parents we need to make sure that our children have positive energy in their surroundings. We need to give them opportunities to succeed. How can you do this? It’s very easy.
- Have a study area for your kids. This area should have adequate space to spread out their books. The area should also have adequate lighting.
- Keep a school supply drawer stocked with paper (lined and graph), pencils, pens, markers, scissors, index cards, a calculator, ruler, and a glue stick. This makes the study process less stressful.
- Give your kids opportunities to succeed by asking them to do simple tasks at home or at the grocery store. Tasks like taking out the garbage or picking up three apples for you while grocery shopping.
- Talking with your kids about their future goals is also important or ask your kids to help you program your phone or i-pod.
These activities help kids with listening skills, following directions, thinking about their futures, and language development. It also gives you an opportunity to compliment them on a job well done. These simple gestures do not require a lot of energy and help to create some magical moments of positive reinforcing energy. These gestures may seem small, but one small moment can truly make a difference.
By Keith Herron
Keith Herron is the Executive Director and Founder of Target Excellence. Target Excellence is a leading supplemental service/afterschool provider in the greater Sacramento region. They help students prepare for a positive and successful school year and beyond. For more information, visit www.targetexcellence.org.