Whether we like it or not, all grown-ups are some kind of role model to the children with whom they come into contact. We can never be certain when some throw-away thing we say or do will have a lasting impact on some little soul with a super absorbent brain.
I got to thinking about this recently with regard to gender. Gender stereotyping is very much of a hot topic at the moment, with plenty of discussion around the products available to boys and girls and the whole pink/blue, princess/car kind of imagery they are exposed to and limited by. Similarly, concerns have been raised around boys being able to express anger over and above other emotions, and girls being led to believe that their appearance is more important than their achievements.
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.
We thought it was bad enough when Mrs Thatcher put an end to free school milk - but now I struggle to think what ordinary sane person can support Mrs May’s proposal to axe free school lunches.
It doesn’t even make economic sense, as the costs of treating those children who are now to subsist without that one wholesome cooked meal inside them every day - not just in childhood, but later on in life when obesity, diabetes and worse catches up with them - must surely outweigh the spend for those meals in the first place.
Earlier in the month I read a fascinating article entitled, ‘We just want to be able to talk to our parents’, by Stefanie Marsh in the Guardian. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it in full: