Life lessons

Now this could stir up a hornets nest of comments; it’s doubtful everyone will agree but I read an article about children and how our actions affect them and it was so aligned to how I think media, doctors, well meaning family members (the list goes on) have made us try to be over recent years that is affecting the way children are now that I just had to write about it.

The article is called “When it’s good to neglect your child” and can be read in full here: DR MAX THE MIND DOCTOR: When it’s good to neglect your child

It isn’t, as hopefully you will realise, about neglecting children!!

Our obsession with cleanliness is making our children sick

It is! We are told we have to clean to within an inch of our lives and people do but that means we see increases in asthma, eczema and allergies in children because they don’t have a chance to build up their immune systems. That means they also pick up more sicknesses and illnesses in general.

It seems backwards, doesn’t it? I know that! But I have never kept a 100% clean home! Just ask my husband – drives him mad!! But – touch wood – my children are generally not ill, do not suffer from allergies and have pretty hardy immune systems compared to other children in different circumstances. My home isn’t slovenly or dirty; just not cleaned to within an inch of its life!!

It goes along the same lines in my opinion as things like a baby’s dummy. You painstakingly take them away when they fall on the floor when they are tiny and you sterilise and sterilise and sterilise but answer me this … what’s the point when that baby is crawling? All the books, the doctors etc will tell you still need to but why? Your baby is crawling around, picking up goodness knows what with their hands and putting it in their mouth; if they drop their dummy for two seconds on your carpet/floor then is it really an issue? I wouldn’t say so. You don’t go around sterilising every toy either!

I appreciate there are other reasons children get ill but this doesn’t help. Children need to have some dirt in their lives. They do not need to live in a sterilised world.

Let your children fail

The first time I failed at something I was 20 years old and I could not comprehend the whole situation! How bad is that? That is how long these society changes have been going on. I took a financial services exam and didn’t pass; that didn’t happen in my world! I always win, I always pass. Can you imagine at 20 years old how hard that was to deal with? I know I won’t be alone in that feeling.

Ok I’m an only child – some may say spoiled – I prefer the word “special”! But I had never learned that I could fail. I worked hard at school and I always did well; I never failed. Everyone always won at sports just at different levels. I always won at board games. I always won at everything.

Schools do not do competitive sports days in the main and I whole heartedly disagree. Now I don’t want to watch a child get upset because they didn’t come first but I have witnessed both types of sports days and I have to say in the most part, guess what adults and decision makers?

Kids want to win. They want to compete even if there is a chance they will lose.

If you tell them how things work, they know and they understand even at the youngest of ages, and they can see after the first race is over that there is a 1st, 2nd and 3rd. They enjoy trying to improve. They want to show you how good they are. If they don’t win, they move onto the next thing and they congratulate their friends who did win. It creates a well rounded and considerate individual.

This doesn’t just cover sports and exams but other things like perhaps they may not be as artsy or theatrical. Making children step outside of their comfort zone is a good thing. It doesn’t traumatise them; it sets them up for life where you have to do things you don’t want to do, where you do fail at things, where you do come across people who are better than you.

These are valuable life lessons that children should learn at an early age.

My Mum often told me to “get up, you’ll be ok” after a fall rather than run and hug me. And that’s what I tend to do with my two. Now that’s not being cruel. Of course I care that they are in tears and that it hurts and I like to think I know the difference between something I can deal with or something that’s hospital visit worthy!! However at the end of the day, my Mum was right and I am too – I was ok and so are my two. This is why they handle things like nosebleeds in their stride without shouting out because they know how to deal with them and that they won’t last and that they can stay calm and ask for help. If it’s something urgent they would scream for help; they know the difference.

They have learned perspective. Not in every step of life … not yet give them time!!

A worry for the future in the workplace

I see it in interviews of how different upbringings have been. Not every child obviously but some. Thankfully some of these you can spot in interviews; others you can’t until they get through to the workplace but then it is our job to guide them and nurture them through.

I have heard resounding calls of “But I didn’t know how to …” when it comes to simple things like taking a telephone message or “it wasn’t my fault, I’m only 21, it’s not like I’m old enough for that to be my fault”. I hope this isn’t me auditioning to be on a rerun of BBC2’s ‘Grumpy Old Women’ but How difficult is it to take a message with the right telephone number and getting the right name? And, since when was 21 not old enough to take responsibility for your own actions?

I am probably not the yard stick to measure against as I had a mortgage at 19, married at 25 and my first child at 27 but I can’t be that far off the mark in my expectations surely? If as parents we don’t arm our children with the right skills, they will fail their employers.

I asked an interviewee to write a letter in their interview and they couldn’t; they didn’t know what to do – no addresses, no formalities. This isn’t an isolated incident. I asked my 11 year old and thankfully he knew exactly how to do it so it’s not all lost but how did it come to this? This was never an issue before.

So, less mollycoddling and more preparing for the real world whilst still offering a loving and caring family environment. We owe that to our children.

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