Resolving Current Problems, Preventing Future Anger

During the last few weeks of our fall session at TYO, we have come full circle and once again brought our focus back to communication.  The students participating in our Core Child Program are bussed daily to our center from four area refugee camps and from some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in Nablus.  As they rush through our doors at 2:00, you’d never guess they have difficulty with appropriate communication.  At first glance, it appears as though the children are happily chatting away - singing and yelling and laughing as they wait for the day to begin.  Yet if you look beneath the surface, you will find that the children are struggling to be heard and lack the skills to communicate properly and effectively. Core Child Program students working on their communication skills during a public speaking activity

In TYO classrooms, children often scream to be heard – even if there is no need to be impulsive or react.  This is a direct result of the living situation from which most of our students hail – small, cramped spaces that house numerous family members and have few safe ears available to listen to them. Due to long-term stress and trauma, parents and other caretakers lack the basic listening and discussion skills necessary to work with their child.  Naturally, our children want to be heard and to show others that they exist – so, instinctively they raise their voices so as to attract attention to themselves.  At TYO, clear messages and creating a warm environment is key - and through this, we hope to help them feel safe enough to share their thoughts in an appropriate manner, and to listen to others when they do the same.

To accomplish this, we’re helping kids build cognitive skills- providing them with listening techniques, encouraging them to remain silent while others are speaking, and helping them summarize and repeat information. We’re also working in a physical sense - challenging our children to memorize and repeat rhymes, and helping them to follow directions using small motor skills.  Our techniques include storytelling, concentration activities, and arts and crafts.  But most importantly, we’re helping kids develop their emotional abilities, through strict focus placed on self-importance and gender equality.

Core Child Program students working together in small groups to improve their communication skills

When we start developing communication skills at an early age, we are able to equip children with the basic skills to share their thoughts and feelings freely as they grow – a skill of expression that resolves current problems and prevents future anger.  Through the teaching of TYO’s Communication and Collaboration curriculum, we hope to arm the Nabulsi community with a corps of active, cooperative community members prepared to promote change - in their homes, their neighborhoods and throughout Palestine.

- Suhad

Suhad is the Psychosocial Program Manager at TYO in Nablus. This blog was edited by TYO Fall 2013 Intern Jessica.