According to my Facebook feed it’s Children’s Day today! Happy Children’s Day everybody! We were all children once, but oh how we like to forget! In honor of the children, I’m inspired to share a few nuggets of wisdom that have made my own life more wonderful. As you read through these, I ask that you reflect on:
1. how they applied to your childhood (assuming that you’re currently of the grown-up variety),
2. your present life, and
3. to any children that are present in your life today.
It is so important to receive ‘YES’. Yes is the encouragement to play and have fun through experiences of your own design. Only through your mistakes, and triumphs, can you ever learn balance. Saying yes to triumph is easy. Saying yes and allowing mistakes to happen is a compassionate gift that requires courage. Saying ‘yes’ requires courage whether you’re saying ‘yes’ to yourself, or to your child. Saying ‘no’ is not courageous, it’s defensive. Sometimes defense is necessary. In the majority of instances, it’s overused. Saying ‘no’ is a kind of violence. ‘No’ is a word that breaks wills. The average one year old child hears the word ‘no’ about 400 times each day.
You came into this world with your own essence, your own gifts, and your own desires. You were not born to meet the desires of others or fulfill their goals. You are an example of life gifting to itself. You are enough as you are, and worthy just by being born. Oftentimes ‘doing things the wrong way’ is actually budding creative solutions. Oftentimes walking to the beat of your own drum results in others making you feel unworthy. Many parents encourage their children to conform rather than support their authentic expression. Rob is an example of a left-handed child who became right-handed only after his parents trained him to use his right hand for most things. Self-discovery happens whenever you follow your imagination, and try things in a unique way. Subjugating others to your will robs them of an opportunity for self-discovery.
You develop your morality by receiving respect, empathy, and help (when it’s needed). To enforce good boundaries, you must observe good models for boundaries. You must experience being heard, considered, and trusted to be social. Children learn so much more from their parents than what their parents tell them. Punishment is the least effective way to teach. Parents must lead by example. Deliberately making others feel miserable only teaches them how to make others feel miserable too.
Humans learn best when they feel inspired and connected. When there are loving adults present in the life of a child there’s no better recipe for success. A good parent will show children just how ‘deep the rabbit hole goes’ for each of their curiosities. Forcing someone to learn through punishments and rewards is counterproductive.
Most parents force their kids to say and do things before they can even understand what they’re doing. They’re made to say ‘sorry’, ‘thank you’, ‘please’, ‘you’re welcome’, ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and even ‘I love you’. These parents teach their kids to act without thinking very early on in their development. As a result, they learn insincerity and obligation along with politeness. Children are not property. They don’t have to do exactly as you say. All you can do is build trust with them, and give them good reasons to respect your opinion and advice. Forcing others to model behavior they don’t feel or understand is a violation of basic human rights.
As a child it’s feels especially bad to not be able to explain why you did that ‘wrong’ thing for the thousandth time. You didn’t come into this world just looking for ways to make others miserable. You just have different developmental tasks to practice. For those who already know about gravity and object permanence, this can be frustrating. Patience really is a virtue. Unconditional positive regard is a good idea for everyone involved. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-doesnt-kill-us/201210/unconditional-positive-regard
As an adult it’s easy to leverage your power over a child. You’re bigger and stronger. Violence can feel good in the moment because it reduces uncertainty. You use physicality to immediately take control over the problem. It is the path of least resistance because children can’t mount much physical retaliation. This is why the cycle of violence towards children perpetuates generation after generation. Inviting forth goodness in others is more empowering than domination and control. That is, of course, if you desire fulfilling and deeply satisfying intimate relationships. We believe this is part of what it is to be human.