By Áine Sands
As the most vulnerable of mammals when born, human babies come into the world reliant on the loving care of parents/guardians and support from their environment. With no means or ability to survive alone, children are dependent upon family, surroundings, culture and society. They (that is to say, we) begin the process of learning immediately – completely absorbing our surroundings – seeing and sensing energy on all levels. Brain development is an ongoing process which is crucial and happening rapidly after birth.
This vulnerability reflects the fact that humans come into the world knowing how to love, by completely trusting that they will be cared for. Although sadly not always the case, in general, babies are welcomed tenderly into the world and they bring an abundance of joy and love to the lives they touch. Our natural human instinct is to smile at a baby and be gentle with them.
As parents/guardians/leaders of the following generation, it’s important that the current generation of adults are aware of how best to nourish the little ones who will one day be the adults running the show on our home planet.
We are key contributors to their development – the shaping of their future and health – internal and external. On that note, it must be realised that there are no bad children – only behaviour, which is learned, and can be unlearned. It is our task to be their educators/role models throughout early life.
In understanding that we are currently experiencing the great paradigm shift , we can recognise that our children are destined to be the first generation of the New Earth. They are creators in the making, with vast potential within them and the ability to do magnificent things. Therefore, if we ever attempt to ‘box-in’ or limit their growth and potential based on expectations and inhumane values of the crumbling ‘System’, we do a disservice to them, ourselves and Earth herself.
If our children aspire to be super-heroes and change the world for the better, it is on us to encourage those dreams, rather than crush them because of what we were taught to believe by previous generations, i.e. “realistic / rational ideals”. Their innocent imaginations give way to creative genius and expression which can very well change the world.
EXAMPLE: What happens when a child leaves traditional education:
Guiding and Providing
In writing this, I draw on my knowledge and experience as a new parent, but also on the obvious truths which are already widely understood about children. Every child is unique and has the capacity to be great, if only we will allow them to be. Their inquisitive minds and questions can be most enlightening. It is not the job of a parent or guardian to ‘control’ kids, as the decaying old societal values would have us do, rather it is our place to guide (and demonstrate) true life values such as love, respect, compassion, honesty, self-esteem, nature, forgiveness, humility, self-expression etc.
It is wise to remember that children are most likely to become that which we think, say and expect of them. Thus it is wise to avoid complaining or ‘expecting the worst’ of the little ones. It is upon us to encourage and support their early journey and, to the best of our ability, guide them to follow their highest path. Speak positively of and to them, providing care and support for their self-esteem as we teach them how to embody true morals and respect.
It is tragic that many children do not have the opportunities to be well-nourished and free, in an environment which allows them to explore their own unlimited potential. As a mother, it is deeply upsetting to hear of child abuse and torture, so for the purpose of remaining on topic, I’ll avoid such infuriating issues. Instead, let’s focus on the opportunities offered to most children in ‘advanced industrial’ society, and how we can best utilise them.
Leading by Example
It is well-known that kids can be very energetic, and parenting can be tiring, however sticking a screen in front of a child’s face does little for their brain and social development. In fact, too much exposure to wi-fi devices may negatively affect their brain development, and there are a number of studies proving electronic addiction in children (as well as adults) , which is best to avoid.
Quality time with children consists of learning and fun for all, and real interaction. Conversations with young people are often illuminating and expansive for both parties.
It is the way of some parents and carers to get frustrated with the many questions from a child. However, their curiosity only demonstrates eagerness to learn, and the ability to question so-called authority and the mysteries of life is a natural ability, which is wise for all of us to embrace – old and young!
The education of children comes mainly from the people in their lives, and not from the institutional “lessons” forced upon them by the ‘system’. Children learn by imitating the behaviour of those closest to them. What is of true value, comes from experience, and not the memorisation of particular pieces of information. What they learn most from, is the EXAMPLE we set for them.
I personally don’t believe in negative reinforcement, i.e. teaching through punishment. I believe positive reinforcement is more effective, i.e. rewarding/acknowledging ‘good behaviour’, not giving attention to ‘bad behaviour’ unless absolutely necessary. If children make mistakes – as we ALL do – we must forgive without hesitation, and highlight the lesson to be learned. Doing so prepares them for learning their own lessons throughout later life.
Healthy Children = Happy Children
The health of our children is in our own hands, not something to be handed over to doctors and the state. When “advised” to put their children on medication, it is the respectful duty of the parents to inform and educate themselves about what chemicals they may or may not be putting into their child’s’ body, and the actual effects (positive and negative) they may have. Although doctors can be of service, it falls on us to carry out our own research and make the final decisions with regards to the health of our kids.
For instance, ear infections are the most common reason children are prescribed antibiotics, but are antibiotics always necessary?
It can be frustrating to see energetic children labelled as “disruptive” or even as having a disorder, simply because they do not follow strict orders and rules which go against their natural instincts, or to hear of a child suffering from the “potential side effects” of an unnecessary drug administration. Ironically, the less drugs in our bodies (and our children’s), the healthier they are by nature. Interestingly, on his deathbed, the father of ADHD himself admitted that it is in fact a “fictitious disease” .
Food as Medicine
It is vital to be aware of the foods we feed our children as their growing bodies require REAL NUTRITION. Our choice of foods can either be our greatest medicine, or the slowest form of poison. Junk/fast food does nothing beneficial in terms of what our bodies and brains need, and kids only learn to eat and enjoy the food which is fed to them by adults – following our lead.
Financially speaking, although some parents do struggle, money is much more sensibly spent on a healthy diet than any less important materials. And there are also quick and easy-to-make options, especially as most healthy foods can be eaten raw!
Therefore, it is essential to provide them with what is best for their nourishment from as young an age as possible, providing them with the necessary foundation for a true healthy diet and lifestyle as adults. We can also get creative with it, from juices and smoothies to healthy baking and fun designs with colourful foods on the plate!
Mental and Emotional Health – Ourselves As Well As Our Kids
By teaching our children how to process their emotions and thoughts appropriately, and encouraging open and honest communication, we can create a positive foundation for their emotional health and well-being. A happy and loving childhood is the number one factor in well-functioning and happy adults.
Understandably, it can be difficult for some parents, who may have been uninformed or wrongly steered by society, to raise their children whilst maintaining their own individual lives of work and play. What is central, is to educate ourselves and to share our knowledge, as well as practicing patience. It is crucial for us to remain mindful and stay calm, no matter how difficult it can sometimes feel. Whether it be meditating, fresh air, or simply having a friend to express with.
Practice What You Preach
Parents as well as children need to be knowledgeable in choices, and sharing support and advice with other parents is a great way to become so. Instead of following blindly what society tells us we must do to raise children, we have the freedom and will to choose how we nurture the unique little humans who rely on us and learn from who/what we are.
We must not be hypocritical in our actions as it may confuse our children. So it’s a matter of complete honesty, of ‘practice what you preach’, and learn as you teach! And, probably most importantly, have as much fun as possible. We all know kids say the funniest things as their minds absorb, expand and explore. Enjoy watching them flourish from the curious beings they are, into adults that very well may change the world in great ways.
- Spend time, not money. Whatever we invest in children, they learn to value. Value the right things, not material possessions. Show your love, not through money spent on them, but through time and effort put into making them feel loved, cared for, safe and happy. Build a fulfilling relationship and remember to laugh often!
- Appreciate little things. Eye-contact, laughter, hand-holding, when they rest on you, conversations, playing, reading, seeing them do their own thing, cuddles, the art they create, the thoughts they have.. Not every moment with children need be a count-down until we have our alone time. Appreciate and enjoy time together in the moment.
- Be aware of the influence you have. Kids show their love and affection as they imitate your behaviour or follow your lead in a situation. This indicates how deeply they trust and admire you. So be mindful of your own behaviour and how they watch and copy it. By being the best version of yourself, they are sure to return the favour!
- Slow down and relax. The more relaxed and calm we are, the more our children will be as well. A child should be encouraged to be enthusiastic and lively, but also taught how to be quiet and mellow in order to balance their energy levels.
- Time outdoors together. Rather than indoor play areas, go to the park, the beach, or even camping, where all the family can be in nature, get some fresh air and unwind.
- Minimise screen time. Television, tablets, computers, video games – it is essential to break and prevent electronic addictions. Take their attention away from screens by engaging in real world activities such as outings, arts, play or even just chatting.
- Eat well together. When children see us get excited about eating fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods, they will be encouraged and inspired to follow suit.
- Language. We can contribute to their interest in things, and also teach morals and values by use of our language. For example, “let’s have some strawberry treats!”, or, “would you like a share of my yummy salad?”. They will also pick up on manners the more they see and hear us be mannerly.
- Follow your instincts. During challenges, take a step back and a few slow deep breaths to ground and centre yourself. Become present, and then trust your instincts. Whether our instincts are to ignore a tantrum or to come down to the child’s level to speak from the heart, you will personally know what is best in the situation for your child.
- Teach yourself. The ability to carry out research and teach ourselves reflects our ability to lead children. Self-educate and learn to be conscious in all areas of life, including parenting, utilising whatever resources available.
- Keep the magic alive. Never crush a child’s dreams by attempting to “bring them down to earth”. We can teach them about the ‘real world’ and how to be self-sufficient, but it’s also imperative to nourish their spirit by allowing them to dream (dreams which are likely to change and evolve as they grow), and to promote their inspirations to pursue those dreams. Let them know that whatever they choose to do, the universe will support and provide for those choices. In doing so, they are likely to accomplish much greatness in life.
Final Word: Being Remembered
A last word just to keep in mind that our children will soon be influential living adults in the world, and how we raise them is key to how they will turn out in all aspects of adult life. They will remember us for how we treat them as they grow, and for all that we teach them, as it helps shape the people they become and what they do.
So let’s aim to be remembered for being and doing the best we can, and for all the love, compassion and wisdom we can impart and communicate to them. Let’s raise adults who will know how to care for themselves and others as well as the planet. Let’s create one hell of a next generation, here, now, together!
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” ~ Indigenous Proverb
This article has been republished from Wake Up World