We can’t achieve anything that we can’t imagine ourselves doing. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget how potent this truism is when it comes to our children. How our children think about themselves, how they imagine they are is the most powerful influence on how they think about their own future.
There are many potential obstacles for our children to overcome in order to develop positive self-image in a robust fashion. One to look out for is a failure to separate ‘bad’ behaviour from a fault in the child. That is to say, we need to separate actions from personality. It’s important that we raise our children to understand that if they do something we deem to be bad, it doesn’t make them a bad person. Good people can, on occasion, do bad things. When we are guiding the behaviour of our children, we want them to realise that one mistake doesn’t prevent them from progressing positively, to know that an error doesn’t necessarily close off that path or block their sense of possibility.
In fact, we currently live at a time when it’s more possible than ever to acknowledge the capabilities of youngsters. As we age, it becomes increasingly difficult (for me anyway!) to keep up with technological advances in our everyday lives. What adult hasn’t asked a child to sort out some digital conundrum for them?
We like to think that wisdom accumulates with age in a steady, measured way, that it is the job of those of us who are older to feed titbits of our hard earned wisdom to the youngsters, and that they should greedily gobble them up.
This is not always the way it is, and not just when it comes to technology. Consider the ecological question, or feminism, racism and various other political platforms that are increasingly occupied by the younger generations, as much and even more than the older generations. Personally I think this is something to be proud of, and it is faith in our children that gives me the greatest sense of optimism for the future.
So let’s nurture, nurture, nurture that sense - encourage our children wherever they want to go in lives that are opening out in front of them like a wide horizon. When they take to the stage, don’t even show them the wings. The wings they will grow will lift them to heights we can only dream might be possible.
How often do your children get to spend time alone without any outside stimulus? When was the last time they had to draw on their own resources to entertain and motivate themselves?
Timetables for children these days can be hectic; after-school clubs, the pressures of school work, social media and other screen-based activities all vie for their attention and focus. It’s not so often that they are left alone to their own devices free from these distractions. And the same is true of us.
Following on from last week’s blogpost, I’d like to draw your attention to a speech given by Jack Ma at the World Economic Forum last year.
Jack (also known as Ma Yun) is one of China’s most successful, powerful, wealthy and philanthropic business leaders who lectures widely about how to, in his own words, “help more people to make healthy money, 'sustainable money,' money that is not only good for themselves but also good for the society. That's the transformation we are aiming to make.”
Have you heard about the recent publishing phenomenon ‘The Lost Words’?
The authors wanted to create a beautiful book to revive once-common words, especially those dealing with nature, excised from the Oxford Junior Dictionary - and it’s really taken off. All over the UK, adults are raising funds to gift copies of the book to schools, including every Primary, Secondary and Special School in Scotland.
It’s a combination of glorious illustrations and poems that the authors liken to spells.