AND Choose What To Teach

August 4th, 2013

 As I was walking the beach, I noticed very little children being guided to enjoy the sand and water by attending adults. I listened as one adult adopted an excited tone to indicate how exciting the waves would be. AND it got me thinking about how we either help kids and each other to see the world as a place of discovery or something to be feared.

The child learns whether to feel safe from the adults around her or him. AND our conscious choice to discern what is truly safe from what is truly harmful or life threatening is conveyed in our nonverbal behavior. Rarely is it what we say, although that matters. More often it is an even tone (calm), a smile, and eye contact that reassure a child or adult that the situation is safe because we project confidence in it and our ability to handle it.

I remember, as a nanny, going to the zoo with a two-year child. I am not fond of snakes. The child was intrigued by snakes and things that slithered on the ground. We went to a zoo that had a separate reptile house filled with such treasures. I remember how important it was to me that I not convey my fear or discomfort. Yet, I wasn’t sure I could easily detach from my own feelings. So I told the child that I was not comfortable with snakes AND that my discomfort wasn’t about the snakes. I explained that it was about me AND that I wanted him to spend as long as he wanted up close to the snakes. I let him know that I would walk a few feet back where he could see me.

This beautifully sensitive child did spend time at the windows and cages, enthralled with the snakes and other reptiles. When he was finished, he came to me, slipped his hand in mine, looked directly into my eyes and asked, “Do you still have the willies?” I laughed and he knew I was fine. His own experience was one of discovery and delight.

That day a child taught me how to feel ok about something I wished didn’t bother me (yet, it did) AND I taught him not to adopt my fears. I wonder what would happen if we would acknowledge our hesitations in ways that help others not to pick up our fears and ad them to their own. The world has so much to offer if we choose to engage it as a place of discovery and discern our own sense of fear, rather than unconsciously adopting what others unconsciously transmit.

We just might learn to change our workplaces and personal lives to be contexts where we are less afraid of change and people we don’t know AND more open to discovery based on direct experience.

Comments are closed.