Now this might seem a bit rich from someone who writes a blog every month about communication with children and young people, but in this column I’d like to touch on having faith in your own judgement, rather than stressing out about what you read is the correct way to do things.
There is so much information out there. Some of it is conflicting, and much of it sounds as though it’s riding roughshod over natural instincts and causing us to mistrust our own gut feelings. But it’s worth taking some reassurance from the fact that the human race seemed to perpetuate just fine before all the instruction manuals came into being.
I don’t mean to dismiss the value of expert advice (obviously!) or to talk down all the wonderful resources that are available to us in the modern age, but it can be easy to become overwhelmed by it all and to forget that each and every one of us has natural instincts that are valid.
When push comes to shove, I believe that if you hold in mind that any child or young person is a human being that you should treat with the same love and respect that you would offer any other person that you care about - and that you would want for yourself - the upshot should be better than if you try and manipulate behaviour according to the current fashion or trend.
Spend time with your children at crucial moments of transition, waking up or arriving home if you’re a parent; arriving or leaving school if you’re a teacher. Take time to find out how they are, let them know that your intention is an awareness of their being. It only takes two minutes to make a difference.
Pay attention to - give in to - your humanity, and mostly I think that leads to deeper, better and more genuine communication and connection.
We can’t achieve anything that we can’t imagine ourselves doing. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget how potent this truism is when it comes to our children. How our children think about themselves, how they imagine they are is the most powerful influence on how they think about their own future.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about ‘praise’ - this week, I’d like to deal with it’s cousin ‘expectation’.
That voice that comes from inside us, telling us not to even bother trying, because we’re just no good at it; telling us we are and always have been hopeless at maths, spelling, art or whatever - that voice came from somewhere.