RE­FLECT­ING ON THE YEAR AHEAD

The Star Early Edition - - LIFESTYLE VERVE -

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

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