Why do children progress so rapidly in their neuro-muscular development? Children progress from being unable to hold up the weight of their head, to crawling, sitting, standing and running typically in a period of no more than a year or two at most. We typically write it off as its easy for children because – we claim that – children are growing, therefore its easier for them, its easy for them to progress… but is it? Think about it.
What if you all of a sudden your limbs started growing and growing, the proportions of your body started changing and changing drastically? What if everything in your body was changing… and changing all at once. Is it really easier for children? If you think about it, its actually harder for children to develop as they are dealing with a body that doesn’t remain the same at all, not just for days but for months at a time they grow until there is a pause, and then they grow again inches at a time.
Imagine trying to learn how to catch a ball, how to throw a ball, how to stand, run, jump when everyday as a child your body is different!
Everyday something is longer… arms grow, legs grow, their torso grows.
Everyday something is larger… feet, hands.
Everyday something changes, yet despite the changes and the rapidity of these changes children develop. How?
Children develop at astonishing rates despite the challenges of an ever changing body because they have not yet learnt to care what anyone else thinks : they are free of the limited thinking, of the judgement, the comparison, the conformity that society demands from each and every each individual who seeks entry into the inner circle of those who are considered ‘A-listers’. Without the pressure of caring what anyone else thinks… children are free, free to be themselves, free to explore, free to try anything and everything without WORRY of ‘what if’? Without a care of what anyone else thinks, children find an innate confidence to try… almost anything! Children explore their world, they explore their potential because they are open to the moment, they are RELAXED.
Adults on the other hand start with WORRY…
A worried adult considers above all whether there is any chance of them looking like a failure?
- A relaxed child doesn’t know what failure is – they are limitless because they are free of binary thinking.
A worried adult considers above all whether there is any chance of them looking like a loser?
- A relaxed child doesn’t know what losing is – they are limitless because they are free of comparative thinking.
A worried adult considers above all whether there is any chance of embarrassment?
- A relaxed child doesn’t know what it means to be embarrassed – they are limitless because they are free of egotistical thinking.
As adults we have given ourselves an easy excuse to why we stop pursuing our potential, why we stop living our purpose… we claim that old-age limits us, we claim that rigidity, stiffness, inflexibility limits us, we claim that the responsibilities of adulthood hold us back, we claim that there is a long list of external forces exist and it is these forces which are our only impediments.
As adults we traded in exploring our potential, our purpose… because we think we traded up for the rat-race of pursuing fame and fortune… ahh, the adult life of make it to spend it, spend it to show it off, show it off until you have spent it all and need to wake up to make more of it. Round and round we go, more, more, and still more… to what end? We run the rat-race for decades, trading our health along with our potential and our purpose… for what? We stucco over the deteriorating condition of our physical, mental and emotional well-being with pills, surgery, vacations, socially acceptable addictions to booze, recreational or prescription drugs, a new car, a newly renovated kitchen, bathroom and basement, we add a vacation property just to ensure that the ball and chain of debt and debt payments lasts well into our 60s or 70s… all so that we can claim to be living life to its fullest (and we can keep it all going provided interest rates don’t rise).
So when does it all end? I mean the infatuation with life, with living, the exploration, the joy of being you? It can end – but doesn’t have to – when children develop an awareness that others are aware of them, that they are being watched, judged, criticized… that what they do triggers a social response.
When children are deeply connected to parents, to a family, to a community, the social response they seek is to fit in with their close tribe and behave in a way that is accepted and gains greater acceptance by their ‘tribe’. A strong support system that accepts a child as a child – i.e. will fall, will scrape knees, will scream, will shout, will cry – while providing appropriate parameters for safe exploration frees a child to be themselves. A child in this environment has the opportunity to explore without condemnation or ridicule who they are, to explore their potential, to experiment in life without having to consider whether who they are is socially acceptable. With such a strong support system this child also has a protective boundary which circles them preventing external judgement from deterring the child from continuing on on their path of growth and development. These children develop a growth mindset.
When children have loose connections to parents, to siblings, when there is no community surrounding a child, then the child becomes keenly aware that their survival depends on their ability to fit in to the whatever tribe that find themselves. All of a sudden, who the child is, becomes irrelevant. When survival becomes primary, what matters is fitting into whatever tribe will take you so that you can gain a sense of security and stability in your life. Exploring your potential, experimenting comes second when you live in an uncertain world. These children develop a fixed mindset.
With parents replacing themselves with technology – i.e. TV raising young children, smartphones, the internet and social media raising tweens and teens – children are growing up without a sense of tribe within their own family, within the walls of their own home. Today ‘good’ parenting seems to be measured by the type of data and call plan a child has on their smartphone, or is measured by the number of game stations, the number of Adult rated games and the number of hours the child is permitted to play online with their ‘friends’. Meanwhile these children are fearful whenever confronted with actual peer to peer interaction, panic stricken whenever challenged, paralyzed by the mere thought of being evaluated, tested, or asked to compete.
RELAXED vs WORRIED CHILDREN
Raising a child, parenting a child used to mean investing personally time, effort, and energy into guiding a child to be themselves, teaching them to learn how to listen to inner cues, to internal motivations, to themselves so that they can become the best possible version of themselves. This was once what parenting referred to, and the result was children who worried a lot less, were a lot more relaxed, and grew up into independent adults focused on contributing to society.
Raising a child, parenting a child today… well… who has time for that. Throw the kid a tablet, a smartphone, any sort of device because it’ll shut’em up, that’s all the time, effort, and energy anyone is willing to put into parenting. The result… a generation of children medicated for anxiety, for anger, for being either too withdrawn or too outgoing, too energetic. We are either tranquilizing our children or stimulating them… but parenting, honestly… who has time for that.
By leaving children to fend for themselves, children are forced prematurely into adulthood.
The result… worry, anxiety, anger, and deteriorating health no different than that of adults.
A couple decades ago the world was a simpler place because we were not all thrown into one single social tribe aka the online community.
A couple decades ago the world was a simpler place because we had options… there were many tribes to be part of, and because there wasn’t a single unifying community as there is now online, we could be part of one or several tribes, or if we so choose we could decide not to be part of any tribe… and no one would no the difference. Today if you are not online, everyone knows, and everyone wants to know… why.
A couple decades ago we weren’t constantly worried about our social status… we could RELAX when we got home, because at home we had our own family tribe.
Today with one tribe (aka social media)… there is nothing but WORRY. We worry if our online presence is sufficient to keep us in the social network of ‘the tribe’. We worry if our life is sufficiently glamorous and fabulous to be acceptable, to gain likes, followers, thumbs up emojis. We worry how many followers we have, worry how many we are gaining, having heart attacks over any follower we lose, we worry who is following us, who isn’t following us, and why we aren’t being followed by him, or her, or them. We are worried how we come across online, how our pages, photos, posts are received, worried if we post too many, too few. We worry about every aspect of life only in reference to how it reflects on us online, how it impacts our perception of how we believe others perceive us, how we are ‘fitting in’ with the online tribe. We worry if we are putting on a good enough show to convince the world that we too should be considered ‘part of the tribe’.
We have trade in who we are, for who we think we need to be, should be, have to be in order to be socially accepted.
We have traded in our uniqueness, our individuality, our purpose, in exchange for social conformity…
In exchange we have received : anxiety, anger, and depression to the extent that prescription drugs are rendered useless.
My children shared with me recently what the consequences of one tribe and technology raising their peers has resulted in…Xanax (amongst other legal drugs), alcohol, vaping, as well as illegal drugs flowing through the hallways of their high school as teenagers who are unequipped to deal with the challenges of adulthood being thrust upon them early in life, seek ways to survive.
Thriving… amongst high schoolers verges on non-existent. Only the few who have the parents who have instilled a strong support system allowing the child to escape from the clutches of social conformity (typically foreign students who failing to achieve grades that ensure university entry risk disciplinary action that all other students would consider abuse) and/or parents who have limited the access of their child to technology, namely smartphones, hence to social media.
Einstein is quoted as saying that “if a fish is judged by how well it climbs a tree, the fish will live its entire life believing that it is stupid”.
I believe there is a corollary to this statement…
“Judge a person by how well they present themselves online, and the person will live their entire life believing that they are inadequate.”
IMHO, that sums up all the generations raised by technology and conforming to the single tribe of social media
We have two options to living life:
- we can free ourselves and walk to the beat of our own drum, live our lives as ourselves, we can be happy and healthy and content, or
- we can enslave ourselves to living our life as a show, a spectacle, a performance we think everyone expects from us, we can live a life that marches to the ‘beat’ of social conformity hoping that it will bring us social acceptance (because it surely does not yield happiness, health nor contentment).
The dis-ease which we are living is a direct result of asking our body and brain to do what it was not designed to do… to give up being ourselves. When we are not ourselves, there is only one option: WORRY 24-7 whether the you that you are putting on is ‘good enough’ for the world. It never is, it never will be. This we know… why we don’t believe it, or don’t want to believe it, I have no answer.
The path to health requires us to traverse APATHY & BOREDOM : we have to extricate ourselves from WORRY. We have to exit from the whirlwind that is living a pretend life where all we do is put on a show to build our social media status. We have to return to living our own lives. To find FLOW as we experienced as children we have to disconnect from living a life devoted to carrying what others think, a life which constantly seeks social approval, a life which constantly seeks social conformity.
To leave the world of WORRY, we have to traverse APATHY (not carrying what the world thinks) & BOREDOM (withdrawal from social media carries withdrawal signs & symptoms as the addiction is as serious as to any legal or illegal drug) to reach the start of the path… the path that leads to being at peace with who we are, the path that results in a RELAXED state where we truly can start to live our lives, where we can start to be open to realizing who we are, where we can open ourselves to learning, to exploring, to allowing our curiosity to run wild, the path that will take each one of us and our children uniquely to our fullest potential.
If we are so worried about eating healthy, drinking healthy, looking and feeling healthy… then why we aren’t worried about how TOXIC, how devastating to our mental and emotional health, how dangerous is… TECHNOLOGY