Saturday, 7 December 2013

Vive la difference

The world turns on the fact that we are all different. 

So why are we trying to fix children? I understand the reason. We want to set our children up to meet every challenge and achieve every success in life. We want to make sure that every trait that could potentially hinder a child from sailing through life is stopped in its tracks, boosted, scaffolded, curbed, hidden or fixed. It puts us under a lot of pressure as educators. On a personal level having someone even suggest that the children I care for are anything less than beautiful and perfect exactly how they are affects me deeply. What's worse it places their parents in positions of self-doubt, worry and blame that are probably unnecessary and unfounded.

How do we know that these differences are liabilities? They are traits. They are what makes us who we are. Every trait exists on a continuum which I like to imagine as being a set of scales, with the positive benefits of a particular trait on one side and the potential liabilities on the other. An artist may be overly sensitive which may sometimes be a liability, but this same trait enables him to create art. An engineer may be seen as slightly lacking in empathy, but this same objectivity is vital to her job. The road to self improvement is paved with good intentions, but are we trying to improve ourselves into a society of clones?

Children develop at different rates in different areas. As long as they are developing within a range that is considered normal there shouldn't be cause for concern. We should be giving them all the love we can, the opportunities we can, and the experiences we can. We should be giving them the support, respect and boundaries that they need to feel secure, independent and strong, then we should be able to sit back and watch them flourish. They have been born with all the internal motivations, drives and tools that they need. Our job is to provide them with an environment that enables them to confidently access them.

Celebrate the difference! Happiness may not come from success, but may come from being able to be who we truly are, to be able to use our traits to fully express ourselves, to make our own choices, and to make a difference in people's lives. Every child is beautiful and perfect and shouldn't be under any pressure to compete with others or perfect themselves. Early childhood is a time for children to learn, explore, innocently express themselves without self-consciousness, and to give and receive love without limits. Let's let this happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment