Remember the nursery rhyme:
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”
WHAT has happened to that sentiment? Before going on, I want to emphatically state that YES, words can hurt, and hurt deeply, especially when it’s within the context of demeaning, belittling, or hateful words spewing from a loved one. So let me emphasize, I expect parents to talk to their children with kindness, compassion and/or respect. They should speak that way even if they are disappointed, annoyed and/or angry. Children must feel emotionally connected and safe within their own family to risk venturing outward; to risk growing and developing.
That being said, children, and definitely grown-up children (aka adults) SHOULD NOT expect the world at large to agree with everything they say or believe. Case in point: The recent presidential election.* Have you been as perplexed as I have over the reaction to the results? There are many, many people, the majority per the popular vote, that are not happy with the outcome. That’s okay. It’s how our elections work and, really, that’s how Life works.
Things don’t always go the way you want.
It’s okay to be unhappy, to shed a few tears in disappointment. It’s okay to protest as is our right, but peacefully. Peaceful, determined protests, to get out into the community and work hard so, come time for the next election, things might be different. You know what’s not okay? To be so overwhelmed and disabled with fear or anxiety-ridden, to the point of being distraught and inconsolable, like some college students needing safe spaces. Or employees not being able to come into work. The results of an election should not require counseling.
WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON?
Too many young adults seemed to have been released into the ‘grown-up’ world ill-prepared. The idea of parenting is to raise a child to be off on their own, to live independently. Egocentrism, the inability to view things from another’s point of view, used to be confined to young children. Current culture has made it too easy for parents to take on a children’s limited scope of ‘the world’ and limit their own scope.
And that is not good for their children.
Children need the freedom to make mistakes. In fact, to make a lot of mistakes, learn from them, try something different and see how it goes. Ideally, they make these mistakes in situations where the outcome doesn’t matter, where the stakes aren’t high.
AND WHERE IS THAT?
Play gives children the opportunity to develop their capabilities and competence.
• When children play, THEY are in charge
• PLAY lets THEM make decisions
• While PLAYING THEY discover their likes and interests.
And when they’ve found something they like they’ll be self-motivated to do it more, getting better at it, becoming more skilled and competent.
Play gives children the chance to build up their confidence through seeing or experiencing the consequences of their actions. They know when they’ve taken a step forward, have had success and can feel proud of their own accomplishments. **
In play, there are no test scores at stake; no a job interview on the line. The beauty and power of play shows in that a child’s competence and confidence develops. Play creates a framework, or scaffold, for their own internal strength and builds resilience to handle, head-on,the inevitability of Life’s ups and downs.
Yours in Play!
*NOTE: As a staunch Independent, I assume the same would have happen had the other party won.
**A note of caution: Children are shrewd assessors of empty praise. Comment on their effort, not the end result OR note what they did or are doing; or pose an open-ended question.