Every Sunday I share a bloom – a small idea of how to improve our world.
Tend the garden of humanity with me by blogging with your own idea on any Sunday.
If you do, feel free to pingback here so we can keep the conversation going.
This Week’s Bloom: Treat Children like People
This is simple. Children are people, after all. Yet this is an ideal that I have seen violated my entire life. As long as the phrase ‘seen and not heard’ is used to describe children, we have a problem. Youths have a different chemical and hormonal makeup, their experience level is low, but that does not make them unimportant or unoriginal. Their personalities and behavior are as varied as adults. So, how do we stop belittling the little ones?
Talk to Them
This is not the same thing as talking at them. Children are given instructions and commands more often than they are engaged in conversation. A lot of adults ignore children to the extent that aliens would be surprised to learn that children are capable of thoughtful speech. Don’t be one of those adults. Their interests and worries may be different than yours, but that is true of most people. If you can uncover something they care about, they’ll make you care about it too. Share in their enthusiasm and wonderment, they are far more interested in life than most adults.
Answer their Questions
If you talk to a child long enough, you are going to get asked a question. You may get asked fifteen questions in one minute. Take the time to unpack their curiosity and give them a clearer view of the world. All of that fantastic wonder comes from the very lack of experience that society chides them for. If a child asks you a question that seems ‘inappropriate’, answer them anyway. Keep it basic, but avoid the ‘you’re too young’ response if at all possible. If they’re asking, they aren’t too young. There isn’t anything in this world that children can’t understand except for the illogical notions and nonsensical expectations society takes for granted. They have not been weighed down by opinion or disappointment and all they really want is to know how the world works. If you help them, odds are good that you’ll end up learning something new yourself.
People lie and cheat. People are mean and incorrect. Not everyone all the time, but everyone sometimes. We have a tendency to deny our shortcomings, especially to children. This is a mistake in itself. Children are learning what to expect out of life, what is considered okay, and what is not. When we are dishonest with children, when we cover up the darker parts of who we are, they are given a skewed perspective. Marking out our mistakes does not teach them right from wrong, it teaches them to hide. Most adults struggle with what to show the world and what to keep inside. This starts with the mixed messages we are given as children. Admit mistakes and apologize, especially with regards to children. You’ll make the next generation a more genuine one.
Children are not half-people, they are whole. Their needs and wants are no less important for their small stature. They are not minions to be ordered around. They are not automatons mindlessly obeying every whim. When they speak, listen. When they ask, answer. When you wrong them, apologize. Their inabilities do not make them burdensome. Their ignorance makes them a privilege to know.