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Helping Your Child on the Journey to Self-Discovery
A Child in the Garden
The Culture Trap
In 1890 Harvard psychologists William James and Boris Sidis made the now popular claim that as human beings we only use 10% of our total brain potential in our lifetimes. This claim has been dismissed as a myth by many later day scientists who state that there is no proven evidence to support it.
Nevertheless, it is still puzzling why some people find it so easy to follow others, while some will go out of their way to experiment with absolutely new things. It remains unknown even to Psychologists whether the two sets of people have similar brains or they differ in grey matter to some extent.
All the same, the vast majority of people fall in the former category; they simply ape what others are doing without even thinking about it. Matters get worse when parents strictly allow their children only to carry out safe, well tested ideas. Subsequent parents also get into the same mindset, thus culture is developed.
Soon the people in a given place say: “This is our culture; this is how we do things.” Come to think of it, there is no one who ever conformed to culture and became a great person. Every great icon in history meddled with culture in some way, establishing a new approach.
Room for Creativity
The culture trap described above leaves little room for creativity among children. Many children who are talented in music end up singing on stage with a first-class degree in law under their belt. In such cases, you find that the parents and other community members absolutely insisted that the child’s future depended on a law degree and music was an unnecessary distraction. Go to any popular children’s park and you will find hundreds of children doing similar activities the whole day, every weekend. It does not matter if some of the children would rather be doing something else. They have to fit in with the crowd, otherwise what will neighbors think of the parents?
Teenagers have been blamed by their parents for generations for breaking out of the family norms. According to psychiatrists, teenage is the point of discovery at which children find out who they are in the world, what the world has to offer, and which offers are most interesting to them. So they begin asserting themselves by imposing certain changes on how things are done. Even then, they are still strictly guided by the rules and culture of society. That is not a bad thing since as social beings humans must live by some guidelines. The missing link is that the older generation mainly regards teenagers as children and thus has no time to listen to them.
Developing Your Child’s Interests
A balance must be struck between what the child wants and what the parent is willing to allow. The parent usually thinks in the child’s best interest. All the same, it is still important to find out the interests of the child and take these into consideration, since the parent is the ultimate decision maker in the child’s life. It is also important to take personal pride or status out of the decision making process. Children are not supposed to be used as pawns to make an impression on the neighbors. Most parents end up spending a lot of money on entertaining their children because they want to impress the Joneses next door. If the children ultimately get bored with the same kind of events every time, then such money is totally wasted.
In some cases, buying a child a paintbrush and canvass achieves more than spending ten times more on a roller-coaster ride every other day. The child may not end up a painter, but at least he will have learned one more life skill. The parent must consciously and actively develop the will to try out new things with the child, rather than wait for what has worked for others to imitate. That is how to get into the mindset of setting the child on the journey to self-discovery.
Creativity Never Ends
On the contrary, it is not enough for individuals to blame parents for not giving them a chance while they were children. Creativity never ends and anyone can discover their full potential if they concentrate on it. There abound many success stories of people who taught themselves to do what they are best at. The brain is as capable of learning new things at the age of 40 as at the age of 5. There are successful engineers who started learning the trade in middle age. Life has few missed opportunities, it mostly has options people feel unwilling to take.
Consequently, the real myth is that it is too late to start on something new. In real sense, people tend to justify their own lack of willpower with this kind of reasoning. Moreover, even if one fails in the first attempt, constant pursuit of the goal may ultimately lead to success. Even if that does not happen, one can still change the mind a try something else. The road to success in not paved with gold and silver, it is full of thorns and hills. It does not matter what the age of the person making the pursuit is.
Though the main motivation for people is to succeed in life, there is no harm in learning even those things that do not directly contribute to such success. That is the reason people are taught many subjects in school before they gradually zero in on their area of specialization. The fact that you are good at something does not mean that everything else is irrelevant. In fact, the more knowledgeable one is, the more capable that person is of leading others. Interestingly, most of the things we can learn or experiment with are found within our immediate environment rather than some abstract place. With a rope and a tree branch, a parent and a child can make a swing together. The child will really value that swing. Moreover, he will have learned to get entertained without spending a single cent. Such, is the fun of discovery.