Children offer us the space to be ourselves, playful, inclusive, open, joyful and innocent. Perhaps in the care and raising of children, this could be our most humble learning, to allow ourselves to return back to these innocent and joyous qualities and in this, we may see and be seen for who we truly are.
Open and curious, young children live in the moment, not bound by belief systems, ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’, right or wrong, they are honest and immediate in their responses.
Sponges of the environments they inhabit, children are astute observers, soaking up the good, the bad and the ugly, and often to our delight or horror, reflect back what we model to them. Largely we train and shape our children according to family, cultural and society’s values and when children overstep these boundaries, we as adults feel a responsibility to bring children back into line.
We can speak to and disregard children in a way we would never do to anyone else. This often plays out as subtle, low level abuse that becomes acceptable in an adult-child dynamic, where we often see ourselves as being superior to children - we are the grownups; “do as I say, not as I do”.
Yet are we actually listening to the truths and wisdoms children share from their innocence? The clarity of truth that can come from a child can confront adults as our behaviour is reflected back to us. When we don’t acknowledge the truth and clarity that our children can offer us it is an easy step for a child to not trust how they feel and begin to shut down their natural wisdom.
When children feel safe and met, they have a gorgeous ability to go with the flow, emanating an infectious, inclusive joy. Why is it that many children seem to lose these qualities as they grow up? What happens to us, as children?
At an early age, children are low in judgement and high in openness, expecting fun at every turn. Differences in age, race, religion and politics are not yet issues to them, and do not stop them from making friends. As children develop, they are faced with a school system where they are expected to comply to a one-size-fits-all model. We grade and rate our children by how well behaved they are and how well they perform, particularly in the areas of school work and sport, where achieving is seen as a testament to growth and competition a healthy motivator.
When a child doesn’t fit the one-size-fits-all model they can lose their confidence, their sense of self-worth and feel isolated.
What if we started from the position that children come into the world all knowing, and that our role as parents and caregivers was to respectfully facilitate a space for children to safely explore and trust themselves? What if our key responsibility was to offer a reflection of consistency in our care of ourselves, and our community, that naturally defined clear boundaries as to what was ok and what was not.
We are responsible for:
the space we create for all children.
how we live and what this reflects to our children.
boundaries that support and do not suppress.
treating children as equals, with care and respect rather than as inferior
Bringing out the greatness in our children rather than keeping them small
Children bring us a beautiful reflection of joy, simplicity and innocence so it is our responsibility to nurture these natural qualities as they
grow and evolve into adulthood.