Well, that’s not strictly true, of course, since I’ve got my MLIS with specializations specifically for working with teens and children- not to mention years of experience in various capacities… BUT- everything else, I learned from Julie Andrews.
I’ve broken it down to the Top 10 things (some of which are more detailed than others) that I’m going to present as a series over the next several weeks. They are numbered, but they are all important and not necessarily ranked in any way. So, let’s get started…
#10 Thing I learned about working with kids from Julie Andrews movies is… It’s important to have high expectations of kids!
What? Julie Andrews never said “I have high expectations of you,” but she sure showed it. Think about it! Mary Poppins came on as a nanny to the Banks children who could be a bit naughty. Ms. Poppins would have none of it. Oh, won’t clean up your nursery? “A Spoon Full of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down” not only gets everything cleaned up, but everyone has fun doing it. Won’t take your medicine? Well, you have to, but taste! Now it tastes like delicious treats.
Then, when Julie Andrews portrayed the lovable Maria in the Sound of Music, she had just as high expectations! Again, the Von Trapp children are not the ideal little versions of humanity that the Captain would like them to be. They have chased away their previous nannies until their father goes to the local convent to find someone with the patience to take care of the dear, little monsters. Not only did Maria transform them into sweet, tractable kids, she did it with kindness and patience. She also sang with them until they became a wonderful choir. Now, of course, this didn’t happen JUST because of high expectations but also a great deal of hard work. However, if her goal had just been to get them to stop putting frogs and snakes in the nanny’s bed, she never could have reached the same heights that she did.
Well, you might still be scoffing. After all, these are both nannies, right? Only one was a professional, but they are both characters specifically designed for taking care of children. Well, what about the dear grandmother and queen Julie Andrews played in The Princess Diaries? Queen Clarice didn’t expect Mia to stop putting frogs in beds (not that she needed to), she expected Mia to conform to the strictest rules of propriety and be a princess. Even when all seems lost, she still expects Mia to fulfill her obligations and act with decorum.
Well, isn’t Julie Andrews just always right? The Search Institute counts High Expectations as one of its 40 Developmental Assets that contribute to adolescents’ ability to become healthy, productive adults. The more assets a child or teen has, the less likely they are to do drugs, drop out of school, or engage in other negative behaviors. If we can believe in the kids in our lives, we will actually be helping them believe in themselves and succeed in life. Well played, Ms. Andrews. Well played.