REFLECTING ON THE YEAR AHEAD
WHAT is it we would most like our children to emerge with at the end of this year?
It’s interesting to watch a social media video that’s doing the rounds, one which features Simon Sinek talking about the Millennial generation. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch. The two key concepts he highlights to overcome the self-esteem trap are connection and patience.
The first of these, connection, is the basis of all our work. It’s the gateway to strong relationships and therefore fulfilment. While patience is a skill, we can coach our children to strengthen their patience muscle. We live in a society where switches are the norm: one click and we have a book to read; one click and we can watch TV with no adverts. We want solutions and we expect them immediately.
Life is on-demand and immediate. This has become the norm for our children – just push a switch and get what you want and need.
Seeds, on the other hand, have nothing to do with instant gratification. They are all about the long term. To watch or wait for them to grow is to experience patience.
They are about tiny potential which, with the right mix of sunlight, soil and nourishment, slowly makes its way to the light before blossoming.
This isn’t only relevant for plants. The famous pre-school “marshmallow test” gave children a marshmallow and told them if they could wait until the teacher returned without eating it, they would get two.
The children who were able to distract themselves, be patient and exercise selfcontrol turned out, in the years to follow, to be calmer, more resilient and more successful in a number of areas.
I know it’s true in my extended family. I had two cousins and each Easter my eggs would be finished quickly. My cousins often had Easter eggs left almost a year later. These two have gone on to be world players in their fields of technology and animation and they’ve done it with a circle of precious friends around them. There are the obvious big ways to exercise discipline and patience: sport, art, dance and music.
Learning to do something well – investing time, effort and attention – over the years not only builds a skill, it builds the awareness of what it takes to do something well.
It builds an understanding that there is joy in the process and greater reward when we’ve invested ourselves in getting there. Most importantly, there are the often ignored, small but powerful ways to grow patience. Learn to wait. To quote Pamela Druckerman, the author of French Children Don’t Throw Food, “small delays seem to make a big difference” in teaching our children patience.
Seconds and minutes count. Children must wait to speak to us until we have finished speaking to others.
Delaying grabbing food or drink the moment it’s requested makes a difference.
Daily life offers numerous opportunities in minor ways to build patience for when our children need it. Most powerfully, a daily lesson in patience rests in how we model patience for and with our children. They are watching and learning from our patience or lack thereof every moment.
Here’s to a year of greater depth and value with patience and connection at our core.
Contemporary Parenting consists of Colleen Wilson, a parenting and path-finder personal development strategist, EQ assessor and mentor, and her business partner Candice Dick, whose field of interest is emotional intelligence. They host their next seminar at Ocean View Montessori in KZN from February 9. For more information visit