So I’m a 90’s kid, and Beauty & the Beast was the essence of my childhood.

You can imagine how elated I was to discover they were doing a live-action film this year. Words cannot describe my love for this film. It truly is an enchanting story.

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To this day, my favorite line of the film has always been:

“For she warned him not to be deceived by appearances… for beauty is found within”

I realized that this is an important lesson for all of us who work with children. Most importantly, Child Life Specialists need to embrace this everyday, even when children and families challenge us.

Image result for beast with the roseThe Beast was only seen as a beast by many. One with an angry temper, one who was rather selfish and disagreeable, one who was alone. The Enchantress stripped him of his human form, his life was altered, and worst of all, he had never experienced love.

Belle discovered that the Beast could love. He saved her life, he gave her the library, he released her to save her father. Belle was brave enough to see the beauty within him.

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I know there have been moments in my years so far working with children and families that I have encountered ones that appear to be a “problem” or something similar to this term. I have seen parents, educators, and healthcare professionals that label them as a “problem” without looking at the whole picture. They do not see the beauty within. Even I have been guilty of this. I become frustrated and stressed, but that is because I am only seeing part of the child and family I am working with during my interactions. Sometimes I have mentally shut down in my approach and I think I am at a loss and I give up.

Sometimes that “appearance” to some, is often a label.

“There goes so-and-so. Off to get in trouble again…”

“So-and-so will never learn. They don’t listen let alone pay attention!”

“This kid is going to fail if there isn’t some kind of intervention!”

“She NEVER does this! She’s being so disagreeable! What changed?”

Many times when I look beyond the “problem”, this appearance that many children are often given, I realize there is more to them that I do not know. As a future Child Life Specialist, this is enlightening. When you begin to ask yourself: “What am I not seeing here?” all of the sudden, you realize that in the end, kids are sending us a message. 

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It is up to us to hear that message. It is up to us to look at the amazing people they are becoming. They face challenges, they are given tough circumstances, they are given special talents and gifts. 

Ask yourself any of these questions and see if you relate:

  • Do I always see this child/family as a problem or do I see that they have strengths and capabilities?
  • Do I view the child/family beyond their beliefs, values, and culture so I can provide the best care?
  • Are they being challenged beyond their capabilities and not getting the help they need?
  • Are they in a circumstance that is beyond their control, which results in a negative result or response?

This is such a powerful lesson for all of us to see the beauty within. We surprise ourselves, but even more importantly, we learn in the greatest way, beyond what we imagine. So remember: be patient, be empathetic, and be empowering. It truly will result in something magical.

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