World is Too Fast? – Get Ready!
August 27, 2014
How fast the world is changing!
Your child is growing up. In this day and age we may think they grow up too fast. The world is what it is and accelerated learning is hear to stay. Perhaps it's because the body of knowledge is expanding so quickly that children have to learn earlier and in more detail to get a basic understanding of their environment. Think of all that has changed since your parents or grandparents were born. Now kids have to learn about that stuff as well as everything you learned when you were their age. It's not like there's stuff we don't have to learn; the body of knowledge is expanding.
I remember checking in on my child studying their 8th grade science book back late in the last century, 1997 to be precise. I was so astounded by what she was studying that I scheduled a parent teacher interview to talk about it. I asked the teacher about the curriculum and he explained that yes things had changed. Technology allowed the scientific community new understanding of photosynthesis . He was teaching his 8th graders information that he learned in college. Today we know this much. Tomorrow brings another breakthrough . One is hard pressed to think of an area of life that is not impacted by our ever changing world. (The first thing that I thought of that is the same was, “ We still make beds pretty much the same”. Maybe by the time you read this everyone will have a house robot and self-making beds.)
Imagination= unlimited power
With so much in the world out of a child's control, do you think it is nice for them to have complete control of some things? A child, as do we all, has complete control of their imagination. They are free to dream up anything anywhere in anytime. This is complete power. In 1887 Lord Acton said, “ Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But that's not the point and may not be true. The point is that a child's imagination is completely within their control and in their imagination they may exercise unlimited power. If we think that Lord Acton was onto something then it might be a good idea to be interested in how your child uses their imagination and to help them transition and prosper in their coming adult world. It's great to be a fearless gun fighter in imagination. In the real world, there are social mores and laws that govern, well, almost everything, and certainly how fearless one is fighting with guns.
The parents role in imaginative play is to be interested in their child and increase the likelihood that their child will share what they are thinking and playing. Then we, parents, have the opportunity to talk about what's important to our children and perhaps help them understand how imagination relates to reality. If you want to get chances to learn what your child is thinking then it's important for you think about the conversation from their point of view. You want to make if fun, light and perhaps even imaginative for your child to talk with you. I suggest you STOP and seriously considering everything you might say, whether you, think it's important or not. And probably not saying it until tomorrow or until you are completely sure that it will help you achieve your main goal, talking with and learning about your child.
Imagine the scenario where you check in on your two boys who have been playing quietly in their play space. They are amazing knights and have captured prisoners after a heroic battle and plan to have them all beheaded, as is the custom of their kingdom. Is it a good idea to talk to your children about the pros and cons of capital punishment? Sure. Is immediately jumping into their play with a moralistic view on their planned executions going to be helpful? No!. Will such an interruption encourage them to share and be open with you, your primary goal, in the future?
Rather than jumping in, think about how you want to handle the situation for some time, a few hours, a day, and then address your concerns about violence, compassion, or murder in an appropriate place at an appropriate time.
- Other scenarios worth waiting on:
- Your son is the princess – dress and all.
- Your daughter is ruling the kingdom by freezing everyone she dislikes with her death ray finger.
- How Children learn right from wrong
Children are genuinely interested in what you have to teach them. They likely admire and respect you and are mostly dependent on you to meet their needs. So how do we teach them important things. We teach by modeling.
If you lose it with your spouse and are angry and out of control then your child is learning that about anger and out of control. Especially if they don’t get to see the apology and subsequent reconciliation.
It’s about dinner time and you check in on your kids to find they have taken absolutely every toy out and trashed their play room. You wonder how they are able to play without tripping over something. You explain dinner is soon and ask them to put toys away. Imagine that they look over the mess and ask you for help. OK parent, now is the time to put your money where your mouth is. How compassionate, helpful, thoughtful and forgiving are you going to be. Do you, “Sure, let me spend a few minutes helping y’all get this place organized.” Or do you, “Y’all made this mess. You have every toy in your possession out. Please get this place cleaned up before dinner.”. You may imagine other responses. What will you model; Cooperation, helpfulness, compassion, natural consequences, frustration?
What about helping them clean up an accident in the kitchen. Say they were getting themselves a glass of juice and it spilled. Do you “Oh my gosh look what you have done”. Or do you, “Whoops, accidents happen. Would you like some help cleaning that up?”.
Think about how you like to treated and how you want to be treated 40 years from now when you are the aging parent and they are the in-control parenting children.