A Detour Doesn’t Mean You’re Lost

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Just because you take a detour doesn’t mean you’re lost. Some journeys take longer and are more challenging. But we can make it. In life and in the classroom, our perception of our ability to affect the journey is what really matters.

In so many situations in our life, we feel lost or helpless. Especially in times of emotional stress such as when kids act up or have meltdown, it’s easy and normal to feel like we are out of control.

That need to feel like we can control the circumstances around is normal and something we are all born with. Just remember that it’s really the perception of feeling like we can control at least some aspects of our life that really makes a difference. 

In psychology research, they call this locus of control – how strongly we believe that we have control over the situation and moments in our lives. If you have a stronger internal locus of control, you feel like you can take the bull by the horns, work harder and get better results. If you feel like you have more external locus of control, then you begin to give up on trying just thinking that you are along for the ride, helpless to make positive changes, with others are in control of your life not you. 

This is something I think is vital in education, this need for self-efficacy, or an internal belief that we have the ability to improve things around us and make our life better. Kids that struggle with behaviors typically have a weaker sense of self-efficacy and thus give in to outside pressures. 

If you get into a tough moment with a student, first stop, relax, and realize that the path back to a good place for this child may take longer than you expected, but you can get there. Work the situation all the way out, learning more about what the child is going through. There are no automatics with support. Then finally consider how much we can model for the student on how to self-regulate, but first checking ourselves to make sure we are in a good place. 

If you feel yourself that you are out of control, especially now during covid, follow the same steps. Stop and breathe. Slow down. Work the situation and find just one thing at a time that you can positively influence. Even one thing can help build momentum to take you in the right direction. 

Detours may take longer and be more winding, but they still get you to your direction. 

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