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STATE OF THE ART (IV)

Laurie Kim REYNOLDS: My experience as an elementary school teacher for many years led to my pursuit of a Counseling Psychology Master’s degree from the School of Education at Boston University, in 2006-7. I have been certificated as a school counselor in Massachusetts, and have current certification in Washington State. I have worked as a school counselor at elementary and middle school levels in schools in Boston and environs, Malaysia, Washington State, and Bucharest, Romania. These schools have included public schools, international schools, and a Native American school in my hometown of Bellingham, Washington. I have returned to the American International School of Bucharest after several years spent there a decade ago. I am always exploring new ways to encourage children to seek growth and accept guidance in their approach to the conflicts that naturally arise in young lives. Working with parents has always been a pivotal part of this work, and has led me to offer STEP courses to parents, and, soon, following my own training, Circle of Security sessions, to further the understanding of attachment in strengthening parental bonds with children.

 Forgiveness as a Process in School Counseling Work with Children and Parents

Often, in school counseling, we are faced with helping students navigate the conflicts that naturally occur when groups of youngsters work and play together over the course of full days, weeks, and months together. Schools are such excellent laboratories for young human behavior and negotiation! Children bring a great range of life experiences, social skills and self-awareness to their interactions at school. Determining the source of difficulty is often an investigative process, but once dynamics are understood, it is often time to confront one or another child about their behavior choices. This is a pivotal moment, in which it is possible for a child to become sufficiently defensive that they are unwilling to acknowledge their role in a conflict. I have found that a measure of “pre-emptive forgiveness” has been effective in helping children understand the context in which they are behaving, as well as their own motivation. Similarly, parents must, at times, be confronted with concerns regarding their management of children’s misbehavior, particularly within a school community in which institutional expectations are in line with local, national, and international standards for children’s safety. A version of “pre-emptive forgiveness” does not absolve parents of responsibility, but often allows for their ability to accept and welcome guidance for more productive ways of handling difficult behaviors in their children. My discussion will address some of the thinking behind “pre-emptive forgiveness”, and forgiveness in general in working with children and parents.

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