What the hell are we doing to our kids?!
Imagine you were a toddler again
Just imagine for a minute that you were a toddler again. Put yourself back there. Embrace the glory and gusto that being a toddler is…
You eat what you want to eat, you stop when you’re full and you don’t give a toss how many calories is in that cake. You relish it. You enjoy it. And when you’re full, you throw the rest to the dog.
You know what you like and you insist on it, no compromise! Whether it’s the pink cup, the dirty trousers or your sandwiches cut into triangles. You’re clear and you take no prisoners.
As a toddler you live in the now. You play what you want to play with, you get filthy in your mud kitchen, you smear yoghurt all over your face because it feels good, you wear your pirate outfit (complete with cutlass) to the supermarket just because you fancy it. You live in a sensory world where you only do things that bring you joy. No apologies.
You have an indomitable spirit, seek out pleasure, and wear your heart on your sleeve. You let people know when you’re upset and what they can do to help. When your crying don’t give a shit if your crying disturbs someone else because, dammit, those feelings need to come out. Now.
You are a glorious, open hearted, determined, stubborn, beautiful human being. You have EVERYTHING you need to make it in this world. You’re in touch with your feelings. You’re clear on what you want and what you need. Sure, your table manners could do with a little work but you’re YOU. Unashamedly, uniquely you.
Spirit is squashed out of you
And then, slowly, over time… it’s all squeezed and squashed out of you. That self-confidence – diminished. That inner drive – depleted. That joyfulness – damaged. That belief that you can be anything you want to be (and to hell with reality) – snuffed out. And forget independence, stubbornness and determination. No, what ‘they’ want is obedience, compliance and silence.
Take those expressive emotions and cage them up – they aren’t welcome here in polite society.
Take that explorative drive to discover and put it to one side, only to be brought out at specific extra-curricular clubs and activities – they’ve got other things that MUST be done.
Take that curiosity and silence it – questions are annoying and you’ll be told what you need to know.
Take that single-minded ambition and determination and bury it under layers of rules – there’s only one way to get on in the world and that’s to follow the crowd.
Take that bravery and self-belief and hide it somewhere far away – there’s no space for individual thinking, compliance is required.
Pare away the amazing qualities they have from birth
And slowly, slowly, your beautiful qualities (the ones you were born with and wore with such pride) will be suffocated and controlled until you do not recognise that person you were.
The person with their own thoughts, opinions and emotions. The one who spoke out. The one who passionately campaigned for what they wanted. The one who stood up for others and to hell with the consequences. The one with a voice, a loud voice full of fire.
Now, you are a shell. A compliant, obedient sheep who changes themselves to fit in with others because that’s what you’ve been taught to do. That’s when people like you, when you’re not being the raw, unfiltered version of you. You avoid conflict. You stifle your voice. You keep your feelings stuffed down, far away. Because people don’t like it. People won’t like you. And what’s more important than being liked? Than pleasing others? Than doing what we’re told? Than following rules, no questions asked?
You need to be you
Except, it’s not true. And one day, you may realise that. None of it is true. You DON’T have to be a certain way. You can just be you. In fact, if you are in the pursuit of happiness, you NEED to be you. Just you.
And then, eventually (if you’re lucky), you’ll start wondering what it feels like to use your voice again. You’ll want to share your gifts and experiences with the world. You’ll want to stand up for injustices. You’ll want to put your soul on show. And then, after so many years of being suppressed and silenced, you’ll start fighting back. You’ll be brave. You’ll speak up. You’ll realise that the only person you need to belong to is YOU. And you’ll rediscover all of those parts of you that were there all along. Just waiting for you to open them up and share then with the world.
You’ll be that little toddler again, not giving a shit. Just being yourself. Being happy. Feeling accepted for all that you are. Then you’ll shine. Then, and only then, when you’ve finally accepted all parts of yourself and refused to hide them any longer, will you truly be happy.
Nurture our toddlers
Now here’s a thought – how about nurturing those qualities in our own toddlers from day 1? No squashing. No suppressing. No ‘quick fix’ tactics to ensure obedience and compliance. How about we celebrate their uniqueness? Delight in their personalities? Support their emotional wellbeing? Love them unconditionally. And let them know, every day, that they are ENOUGH… JUST AS THEY BLOODY WELL ARE!
P.S. if you want to know more, come along to a ToddlerCalm workshop!
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