“Every day, everywhere our children spread their dreams beneath our feet and we should tread softly.”
I use the quote from the late Sir Ken Robinson as this is a wellbeing blog after all and putting the children first is ingrained in my role. There is no doubt we are all suffering at differing levels and in different ways, but we are all suffering. We are nearly two years into a pandemic. I did not want to even mention this, but it is our reality and I hope I can strike a chord with some or all of you.
The lesson is simple: we have to commit in the present, and somehow trust that our efforts will count in the future.
‘Our Children Need Us’
Language creates reality. Native speakers unconsciously give nouns the characteristics of their grammatical gender, which in turn affects their emotions. Why do I mention language? We have referred to and developed our new MCM themes based on an ever-evolving culture based on positive psychology and the language embedding this. Translate it how you want, but our focus points of Mind, Spirit, Community and Body, are vital when you consider the importance of our young, our staff, our community, moving forward during this pandemic.
I recently read an article about raising a teenager in an age of anxiety and this triggered my main focus for this article – our children. In WW1 it was ‘Your Country Needs You!’ In the midst of a pandemic, I have no qualms in saying that ‘our children need us’. I urge you to read this article. It is our job as parents to be as ‘physically and emotionally present as possible’*, and with adolescence starting as young as 9 years of age, it is imperative that we give our children emotional security by giving our time and attention – showing them that nothing is more important – ‘drop’ that phone and leave that work email; go out, play, be silly (take risks) as Mr Clements suggested in his blog describing, with great enthusiasm and good humour, longboarding with his children. You never know where the important moment lies, but rest assured there is no amount of time spent with your children that doesn’t count in the future.
‘You don’t get that time back’
I want you to stop and watch this short clip from the 2012, London Olympics – Father and son – the way the Father exclaims his undying love for his beautiful ‘boy’ should be treasured and like so many inspirational images we can access on the internet, the exhilaration we internalise should be relished and should help inspire us to be present, be mindful; have perspective and give that little extra to ensure the important moment is trusted and nurtured, by committing to it – by being present with our young children (and our friends and family).
The small things do matter, but never forget to have perspective. ‘Don’t confuse structure with strictness – rules are important but we have to know when to relax them’. Discipline yourself – our capacity to love, forgive, be honest with ourselves and others, be courageous and have perspective matters a great deal. If your capacity is full** then you should be ‘giving’ and giving that extra amount – go out of your comfort zone, but first and foremost, love, be kind, forgive and be calm amongst the chaos of others (exacerbated tantrums come to mind) – ‘Our children need us’ and in loving and caring for them, seize the day! The following was written by a Year 7 pupil for their belief bubble in Religious Studies – so simple;
‘I believe in living to laugh’
How often do we see, or hear our children laugh? I know that when I do they are often being silly, perhaps even irritating, but at all costs we should be embracing this – it’s that sprinkler moment when children run through after clear instructions not to, but they laugh and get all their clothes soaked – celebrate it.
Another important focus point mentioned in the aforementioned article is the idea that we should be encouraging our young to be interdependent, not just independent. A recent study of over 350 commencement speeches determined the most common messages – here are the top five – but from an interdependent mindset, I have crossed them out to represent a different viewpoint (taken from the book, The Power Of Giving Away Power, by Matthew Barzun)
Change the worldChange your mindset Listen to your inner voiceShare your inner voice Work hardWork through hard things together Don’t give upGive up power (to make more) Embrace failureEmbrace uncertainty
Great passion, effort, belief and insight inspires and to inspire can take time, commitment, indefatigable will, but it can also happen in a moment, a simple statement – valuing another, guiding them with the simplest of views, or ideas. Embrace this period of uncertainty and listen, discuss, be honest, again; love, go out of your comfort zone, seize the moment, connect and encourage your children to connect with your friends and family more; be inspired, and never underestimate what you can do to inspire another through conversation, compassion, companionship, and by being you but with more skill.
There is a very important message here, one that resonates in so many areas of life. Quite often, we fail to appreciate the significance of something, simply because its value is not immediately apparent. So my important moment revolves around giving that extra love, attending to our children’s needs, and recognising in yourself when you need to do the same for yourself. Ask for help. For further down the line this will be our important moment.
Mr A Gough | Deputy Head of Prep School (Pastoral)
* ‘Physically and emotionally present as possible’ – how to do this? A TED talk worth listening to gives us the goal of ‘reaching a state of flow’ by doing something that involves: mastery, mindfulness and matters – How To Stop Languishing And Start Finding Flow
** Full Capacity – if your capacity is half full then you need to be able to balance your time for yourself and your children, or others. If your capacity is minimal then you need to focus on yourself. This TED talk will give you learnable strategies for coping with adversity, and it reminds us that we all experience adversity at some point in our lives – 3 Secrets Of Resilient People