This internship has truly been a formative experience for my future. If anything, my experience as a CAN intern has really cemented my desire to work with kids for the rest of my life. Unfortunately (and fortunately, I suppose), it has also shown me that I have a lot more work to go to become 100% confident and effective in making kids realize their potential and ability.
I really thrived on how tightly-knit the kids I worked with this summer were, and how much they treated both the community center and the staff like it was their home; it was where they wanted to be, and we were who they wanted to confide in. In all of my other experiences working with kids, I was either too young to be this kind of resource for kids or there were simply too many students for me to form such strong relationships with every single one. For this reason, I feel truly grateful to have gotten to know each and every kid who came to camp this summer.
Being a student who is particularly interested in adolescent psychology, I hear all the time what the best practices should be when working with children: use positive reinforcement, provide individual attention, show children the patience you wish them to show you, etc. Many educators and child-care workers know how important these skills and approaches are but still fall short of using them because it can be so much easier and more convenient to use punishment, get mad at disruptive kids, isolate someone who resists instruction, etc.
This is where CAN is so markedly different. Although we do get frustrated, make mistakes, and enforce consequences often, I feel like this is the only place where I’ve truly been able to practice mindfulness and personal growth with kids. Unsurprisingly, this has really shown in the bonds I was able to create with them this summer. I’ve been able to talk with them through their meltdowns and let them know how kind, smart, and valued they are. Sometimes they journaled about their feelings for me and sometimes they just found the time to really open up to me about why they got upset or why they didn’t feel like participating with the group.
This is a skill that I’m just now starting to develop and one that I think is really imperative for my future. I’m passionate about using positive interventions and mindfulness to shape adolescents into working hard towards toward their goals in life, especially those who are deemed at-risk and might feel really insecure in their futures and don’t see the potential in themselves that we see in them. I’m really excited that I can continue to work with CAN upcoming school year and really hone in on this skill while continuing to work with these awesome kids and this incredible association.
That’s a wrap on my 2017 internship experience, and I couldn’t be more happy with it!