I had cancer. Cancer has become a part of my life story. In August I celebrated a year since diagnosis, surgery, and eradication of my cancer. I celebrated with approximately 80 of my friends who have supported me and my family over the last year. I have the most amazing support system. They are still supporting me, even after my treatments are done and I’m back to my old self. Cancer is a part of my story, but it is not what defines me. This has really been prevalent to me lately. Others who have gone through what I’ve been through can empathize with me. Some may feel pity. Some may feel anger about the disease as a whole.
I wonder what it’s like for children who get labeled as something. “He’s a boy. They behave like that.” “She’s a girl. Drama comes with the territory.” “He has ADHD. He can’t sit still, don’t expect him to.” “She will throw a fit if you make her clean up now.” Are we as adults, unintentionally labeling children which may be skewing our expectations of them? We receive what we perceive. If we think that child is going to throw a fit, she will. If we expect the child to not sit still, he won’t. Labels impact children not only in the present time, but in future as well. How many adults have given the child’s next teacher a “heads up” about the child? When that child enters the classroom, there’s already a preconceived notion as to how that child is going to behave and how the adult is going to perceive the child.
Children’s behavior is a part of their story. It should not be what defines them. Behaviors are emotions to be understood. Children’s physical health is a part of their story. It shouldn’t be what defines them. Adults should be able to look at each child and treat each child as an individual. Treating children the same to be “fair” is not appropriate. That’s like saying anyone who has cancer gets the same treatment because it’s cancer when in reality, there are many different treatment regimens for the many different types of cancer.
Children are building their stories. It’s important we value the story they are working on and add positive chapters to their growing story.