Every day, in thousands upon thousands of cars all around the world, four simple words rattle around in search of meaningful feedback about children’s wellbeing. “So, how was your day?” Its a question we ask those in who’s wellbeing we take an interest. But what is it that we really want to know?
Well, if it was a day filled with unexpected misfortunes and frustrations, a bad day, we want to know so that we can comfort, console and care for others in the way we like to be cared for on our bad days. And if it was a day filled with fun, excitement and success, then we want to share in the revelry, congratulate and praise.
Contained within these two extremes are a myriad of kinds of days, a spectrum of experiences that might be summarised in a sentence beginning with, “My day was…” The question is designed to determine how we should act towards our loved ones. It provides general information on what the person has been experiencing. We might say that “How was your day?” is a question that provides context for the interaction that is to follow.
Fair enough, but is that what we really want out of the question? Are we seeking context? Or is it something deeper, some way of knowing whether our loved ones are okay beyond the ups and downs of their day to day lives. Perhaps what we really want to know is how they are within themselves. Whether they have a sense of purpose, whether they are happy in themselves and their environment, whether they feel confident to take each step along the path of their own lives. But we don’t have a question for that. Because these kinds of questions do not have very simple answers, and for children they may not have any answers at all. But their relevance is hugely significant. And the information to which they provide access is rich with deep understanding about how they really are and how their days really were.
So, we need a new question. Something simple yet sharp enough to penetrate the superficialities of ups and downs. Something personal yet general enough to be relevant every day of a person life. Something that can help us to paint a picture of growth and development, to assess wellbeing and happiness in the deepest senses of the terms.
And here it is, “How did you take care of yourself today?”
Ask it now a couple of times, let it sink in. See what comes up when you ask it of yourself.
This question is all about self care; voluntarily acting for the benefit of one’s own emotional, physical and mental wellbeing (http://au.reachout.com/what-is-self-care). It can be as simple as taking 5 minutes out of your day to meditate or go for a walk. It might be eating a healthy meal or getting a good night’s sleep. It might be wearing your favourite socks when you’re feeling a little low. Anything that is done for you by you. It may sound obvious, in fact it should, but caring about oneself is a surefire way to develop self esteem and confidence. It reminds us that we are important, that whatever life throws at us we will be there for ourselves, to comfort and nourish with love and attention.
Asking this question of our children shifts the focus of discussion from outcomes based thinking to process based thinking. It directs attention towards wellbeing and opens a dialogue about emotional and mental health without seeming too deep or complex. It also means we can begin to help children by offering self care strategies and then having a means of following their development and impact.
Here is a list of five simple self care strategies for students:
- When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths or go outside for some fresh air.
- Eat healthy fresh food to nourish your body and mind.
- If someone hurts your feelings or you are having self defeating thoughts, give yourself a kind pat on the heart or even a hug.
- If something at school is confusing, ask the teacher for help.
- If you’re cold, put a jumper on and if you’re hot, take your jumper off.
Do you ask students this question? Will you? What self care strategies do you think would benefit students?