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Life's Big Lessons

Around every corner hiding in plain sight are lessons not to be missed

surprised boy

Every experience we have and every decision we make shapes our lives and our understanding of the world around us. Children are like sponges, constantly observing, soaking up all the stimuli, the information, the actions of others to help them grow and develop. Their influencers first and foremost are their parents, which is a huge responsibility due to the role you play in shaping their future.

Ask your self the question, ‘What sort of person do your want your child to grow up to be?’. From the age of 10 upwards you can even start asking kids themselves what sort of person they want be. Not as in a job or occupation, but as a person. Their morals, their behaviours, how others see them.

boy pondering on a bridge

You Wanna do What’s Right

Chances are you want to raise your children well. You want them to fit into society in a meaningful way and to treat others with kindness and respect. Have strength, confidence, resilience, compassion and perseverance. The actions you demonstrate, the lessons you give and the way you teach your children about the world influences this.

There are opportunities arising constantly in our daily lives where we can apply the questions, ‘What’s life’s big lesson here?’, ‘What is my child learning from this experience?’

man looking to the stars

A Good Example

To give a little more context allow me to tell you a story from when I used to work in a school.

There was a family, they were ok, but parents had he potential to be slightly confrontational. One of their kids was in Kindergarten and things for the most part were well. When the child moved into Prep the following year, there was a uniform policy in place. Nothing unexpected, just a polo shirt and pair of shorts, closed in shoes that sort of thing, you know the drill.

Anyway, repeatedly the son would come to school without uniform on, pretty much wearing whatever. Eventually, I spoke to them about it and they informed me their child didn’t want to wear the uniform. Long story short, they argued about it, tried to buy similar coloured clothes to blend in with the uniform, but eventually left the school because of it.

This incident and his parents’ attitude along with all the other behaviours observed by this growing child will contribute to the sort of person he grows up to be. Parents giving into a child’s tantrum and wants teaches them this behaviour is ok, so they will continue to exploit this. In this instance the situation is exacerbated by the fact the parents argued and complained to the point where they left the school. What example is that setting?

young girl excited by a sprouting plant

Not All Negative

But not all life lesson’s have to come from looking at negative examples. For example, you might see a visually impaired person with an assistance dog. Taking time to explain and unpack this situation with your child, discussing how their life must be living like that and the problems they face. What could be done to help people who are less fortunate and developing empathy for others is the key point here.

children volunteering

Life Skill or Life Lesson

You see when we talk about life’s big lessons, we aren’t talking about learning how to pass a football, ride a bike or make a sandwich (although equally important). We are looking at opportunities to shape the social, emotional and wellbeing of our kids.

The big picture stuff. Words you should hold in your mind in this regard are words like, compassion, resilience, confidence, persistence and self worth. Looking for examples of this in everyday life in different scenarios and taking the time in those ‘teachable moments’ that happen at anytime through daily experiences.

You don’t have to go out specifically looking for these opportunities, you simply have to be mindful of not missing them when they present themselves.

scrabble tiles

Internal or External

Some of these life lessons are focussed outwardly in the way we approach and treat other people, animals and property, like compassion and respect. Examples of vandalism, littering, graffiti or mistreating others are all relevant here. Possibly the best mantra you teach your child is, ‘Treat others as you would like to be treated’. This statement is one of the most valuable for teaching your child respect.

As a teacher and parent, the number of times I’ve said this to kids for bullying or teasing others, is uncountable. With my own children it’s something I constantly have to remind my middle child, even in just the tone he uses when speaking to his little brother.

Other life lessons like resilience teach our children about ‘bouncing back’ when things don’t go our way (‘I could do this all day.’ as Captain America would say) or persistence that teaches us to never give up when we can’t do something. The well known saying, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ Although I personally prefer Yoda’s wisdom for this one ‘Do or do not, there is no try.’

So look for these opportunities, everywhere, be mindful and keep coming back to: ‘What life’s lesson is my child learning from this, and what sort of person do I want them to be when they grow up?’

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