(an excerpt from Children Aren’t Made Of China by Wilson McCaskill)
Interest – Invest – Identify – Inspired
- INTEREST – We must show and action our deep interest in children. It is important to be observant of them and to notice their successes, failures, strengths, weaknesses, problems, concerns and improvements. Being interested in them helps them to be interested in themselves. Often the hardest thing is to listen. To listen to more than the things they say, but to the things they don’t say, won’t say, or can’t say. Make your children your subject of greatest interest. Be informed about them through all the different stages of their lives.
- INVEST – We must invest time in our children. They mustn’t rule the timetable of our lives and they must learn to wait and be patient. However, our lives must have sufficient time for them and their needs. There must be the time to sit with them, either at the table, in the garden, the car, or end of the bed at night and just enjoy their company. They need to feel that we have the power to stop the world and give them our undivided attention. Be it to look at a picture they’ve painted, or to listen to a story streaming out of their imagination, or a lengthy explanation of why they think ants would make good pets, giving them the time is giving them the message that they are important to us.
- IDENTIFY – We must see things from their point of view. To empathise and connect with them can be difficult. Often we are too busy trying to convert and control them and have no time to look at the world through their eyes. Shifting their perceptions and attitudes is often easier if we can first see why they have them in the first place. Using, “When I was a kid etc…” as a way of changing their thinking only creates resentment. They want us to understand what it’s like to be a kid now, in this place, at this school, at this time. Respect their point of view and work with them to create beneficial changes.
- INSPIRED – We must be inspired by them. Their actions, ideas, outcomes and above all, effort, must inspire us. Children need to know that their existence and example as children inspire us to be better adults. This does not mean we need to act out great exuberance and enthusiasm for every thing they try or achieve. To do so, would only weaken them by removing their self- motivation. What it means is that we should be on the look out for those things, large or small, that happened because of a special effort, awareness or concern. Such as getting 4 out of 10 for spelling after trying very hard, or helping a friend who was being teased, or quietly playing when you had a lot on your mind, or winning the race and congratulating those who didn’t etc. Being inspired by these things is to do more than just mention them to the child. It’s to convey a sense of pride and to let the child see how your spirits have been elevated. In other words, for them to see they have helped to make your day.