THE IMPORTANCE OF FEELING UNDERSTOOD
Rita was born biologically female and identifies as a boy. He first began to exhibit signs of gender oppositional behaviour when he was 2 and a half years old. Although Rita’s parents are very loving and appear to want what’s best for him, their approach to gender is very traditional. They often tell Rita to “behave like a girl” and encourage him to engage in activities which are typically believed to be more feminine. Rita is an only child and her parents have shared that this is because the couple previously lost a child during pregnancy. They are currently in the process of getting divorced and have started partner counselling. The parents speak Greek with Rita and can communicate with the teachers in English. Rita stopped speaking Greek. With friends, he speaks English and starts speaking the language of the kindergarten with an English grammar structure for the sentences. Both parents speak Greek with Rita even though she is always answering in English, because they don`t want him to lose their home language & the language of the broader family.
Age: 5 years and 4 months
Home language: Greek
Additional language spoken: -
When interacting and working with children of different backgrounds, it is inevitable that there will be situations where it is difficult to verbally communicate with a child in kindergarten if a shared language is not present. It is important to understand ways of circumnavigating language barriers with parents and educators working in partnership to ensure that one can recognise the needs and wants of the child. Feeling understood is one of the prosilience factors educators will influence immediately.
Should the educator take any steps in communicating with Rita or the parents?
What are the next steps?
What might be Rita’s risk factors and her resources when it comes to prosilience?
How might Rita feel?
How should the educators address Rita? He, she, they?
What are the strengths of the girls/ women Rita is being exposed to?
What was the gender of the child that was miscarried?
Why might the parents feel so attached to Rita’s perceived feminine gender, especially during this time?
How can educators help Rita to feel seen during this time?
Can the kindergarten be a “safe haven” for Rita (i.e. can Rita freely choose/define his identity while in the kindergarten)?
What role models are available to Rita?