What Is Flexibility?

What is Flexibility?
Being Flexible, as defined in a Dictionary, is to be “able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances or conditions” it is also defined for a person as “ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances”

Life is full of change, and we all need to adapt to that change, change that happens all around us all the time.
Change is always happening, no two days are exactly the same, even if we try to make them the same there are always things that happen different. Our surroundings change, people around us change, plans change, we change… change is part of life!

Children, like us, face situations that demand them to adapt to change every day. As every day is different, a child needs to be aware of changes and adjust to them.

These changes are sometimes planned, as we have different activities scheduled for a weekend compared to a weekday. In these changes children need to adjust to the demands placed upon them from those planned activities.

Unplanned changes also happen all the time, it can start raining once you got to the park, the teacher can be late or absent, the milk can be spilled, etc…

Changes, no matter how big or small, require a child to adapt, change and be flexible. Being open to change, adaptable and flexible are also essential elements to learning!

Many children, and adults too, find contentment and security in routine and repetition. Predictability and familiarity helps them relax and function on a unstressed, automatic level. When activities are planned, scheduled and repeated a child may relax, knowing exactly what will happen and what is expected of him or her. Children always want to do well and succeed. For some children, routine and repetition allows them to feel confident and successful!

When this happens, when a child needs routine and repetition to feel confident, change produces insecurity. This insecurity (caused by change) makes the child resist change and can trigger frustration, anxiety, anger explosions, meltdowns, etc…

Let’s take a look on a hypothetical event: A boy, who feels confident with routine and repetition, knows that in his day’s schedule it is planned he will go to art class at 10:45, the boy knows he will be going to art class, he is looking forward to his art class because he knows that he will be doing a poster on a theme of his choice. He has chosen to do an airplane poster, he loves airplanes, so he is really excited to do this project, he has already planned in his head what he will be painting on the poster, he even imagines how he will make the whole setting for a a war plane with the clouds, the explosions, the dust, etc…. Unfortunately the art teacher has had a car accident and is unable to get to class on time, therefore at the time of art class there is a substitute teacher who is not aware that the project planned for that specific day was to create a poster on a chosen theme, and decides that the children should create a sculpture of a farm animal out of diverse material.

The boy, who was ready and excited about the expected project has to face several changes: first of all the teacher is now a substitute, an unfamiliar person with different demands and expectations, he does not know what this substitute teacher will be expecting of him; then the project has also changed and he has not planned nor expected the new project… he feels overwhelmed… insecure… anxious… frustrated… he resists change… he melts down…

Clearly this boy is not ready for unexpected changes, he feels at ease when he knows what to expect and what is expected of him, as with routine and repetition. He wants to do well, so when there is a change there is fear that he might not do it right, so he resists that change, and as he doesn’t know how to cope with change, change triggers a meltdown… or an anger explosion…

Children like this need to learn the skills to cope with change, to become flexible…