If you live or work with small children, how often do you actually get down and view the world from their perspective?
It can be, quite literally, an eye opener.
It’s not just the psychological effect of endlessly looking upwards at your designated figures of authority, it’s also the horrible damage to your cervical spine that makes this an undesirable state of affairs.
Young children are small - there’s no getting round it, they just are. They can be quite a long way down, and sometimes it can seem like a bit of an effort to get all the way down there, because you’ll only have to get all the way back up again.
I remember working at an Infant School, with a class of Year 2s who were just about to leave to go to Junior School, and one little boy in particular was feeling a bit anxious about his unknown future. We spent a playtime sitting on the carpet together, talking through his concerns and, thankfully, allaying his fears. When the bell rang and the other children started to come back into the classroom, a little girl ran over to me and said, “What are you doing on the floor Miss? You’re a grown-up!!” And of course I realised in that instant that at the ripe old age of eight, no adult ever got down to her level - never actually communicated with her face to face, eye to eye. Not her parents, not her teachers, no-one she classified as a grown-up. She was spending her life literally being talked down to, every single day.
Not so long ago, a friend of mine posted a quite understandable rant on Facebook, following a particularly unpleasant altercation when he tried to take his child into his workplace of fifteen years. The attitude of the gatekeeper had been less than welcoming, which judging by the substantial online discussion my friend's post generated, around similar problems experienced by mutual friends in similar situations, this is not too uncommon.
What there wasn’t - in any of the cases cited - was any empathy with the child, and how she must have felt. Our POV is almost always so rooted in the adult experience, that whether literally or metaphorically, we find it difficult to take on board the child’s perspective, and I can’t help thinking that my friend’s child must have picked up on the vibe of not being wanted or welcome in the building.
We have enough difficulty with a younger generation who feel alienated and ostracised from the adult world, perhaps we could take time to really look through their eyes, to see their point of view, to try to bridge that void.
There is a secret weapon to help your children’s bodies work better, to help them feel better, to help them perform better and to help them be happier.
We all have our own concept of ourselves, our own idea of self, and our own idea of when we are our best selves. It may not happen very often, but you know those moments when you feel a little more alive, feel that you are thriving and contributing more. Our language says it all when the converse is true and we are feeling unsure of ourselves.
Once again, with the government’s new dictum that calories in popular foods must be cut, the issue of childhood obesity is back on the menu.
Like so many aspects of our lives, the focus is on the negative. With this ‘battle’ as with so many others, the tactic is to bring in limitations and regulations for what already exists. First fat was the enemy, then sugar, now just calories in general - and the proffered solution is to try and cap the amount of the enemy in our food rather than look at the bigger picture.
Recently I had to write out some simple breathing exercises for teachers, and it suddenly struck me - why aren’t these more readily taught to young children?
Whilst I was writing and noting how most of us maintain a fairly shallow breathing pattern that takes place in the upper part of the ribcage and that fails to utilise full capacity, I realised that no-one had ever taught me how to breathe.
I recently spent a thoroughly enjoyable day, holding a workshop for Riverside Performing Arts' in-house Theatre Company to help develop their upcoming show based on the popular children’s book ‘Elmer’ (you may be familiar with the eponymous patchwork elephant), at Midlands Arts Centre.