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Singer Songwriter & Vocal Coach, Lizanne Hennessey - Voice Coach


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How can we talk to kids?

How many of us have (albeit inadvertently) asked a child, "What are you going to be when you grow up"? Admittedly, I have caught myself doing this.

It's a bizarre way of making small-talk with a child, isn't it?
"Having fun in the sandbox? That's a cool sandcastle... so tell me, kid, what is your ultimate goal in life?" This isn't an easy question for anyone to answer, let alone a 5-year-old.

To me, this question reinforces the way our system is put together - which is designed to mold children into consumers, so they will be instrumental in our economic growth. At the same time, it is a question that can help us understand what drives our kids, what they are passionate about, what their dreams are...

In this article, Jennifer Fulwiler proposes that we should altogether stop asking kids this question, as it "reinforces the idea that the way to find identity and value is through career" and "undermines the concept of vocation":

How can we talk with kids, encourage them to explore who they are, and get them excited about who they will become, without asking such a weighty question? How can we allow them to expand their imaginations, and let them know they are taken seriously at the same time? How can we differentiate things like a purpose in life, as opposed to a career, in a way that children can focus on and hopefully achieve their passions?


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    Jun 24 2013: I asked many a times different kids.....my elder son told me he wants to be Astronaut when he was just 4 and still now he is focused with that

    When I asked my younger son in similar age like elder one he told me he want to be 3 things which are

    As I check it intermittently , once he told "if I become 3 in one , then I will not have any holiday"
    Asked why? He told once I finish my job as scientist then I have to be ready to fly flight as pilot, then I have to do my art work.
    I told ok , then give up two and focus one. He answered "no I can't" then he told "Art is not a job , I can do it anytime whenever I like. So I have actually two"

    Recently he (now he is 8+) added one more which is Footballer......:)
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      Jun 24 2013: Really interesting :)
      the way you interact with your child is awesome
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        Jun 25 2013: Thanks Kashaf....
        Interacting with kids is very challenging , as they asks some challenging questions that we "Know it All" adults either don't know the answer or struggle to answer say as my younger son studied story of genesis in school while he is studied science and see lot of scientific things on TV , he asked me the following

        "Was Adam the first civilized man like us or he was the first prehistoric caveman ?"

        I found it a challenging question, what do you think ?
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      Jun 24 2013: I'd love to know his answer 5 years later :P
    • Jun 24 2013: Salim, I love it!
      What a clever kid! He is not only exploring the possibilities, which are truly endless, he is even managing his time to fit them all in! I'm sure it won't end at the addition of football, either.

      Out of curiosity, you said your other son wanted to be an astronaut, and is still focused on that. I find that interesting. Do you talk with him about this, or find books about it or YouTube movies about astronauts? Or, do you let him discover in his own way what being an astronaut might be like? I ask, because my son is now also interested in space. Although, a few months ago, he wanted to be an Angry Bird...
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        Jun 25 2013: Hi Lizanne , thanks for your interest.
        That's so cute of your son to be an Angry Bird :D...My both sons are fond of Angry Birds as well...:)

        Yes I do talk with him (elder son) about his desire to be astronaut, bought books on astronomy for kids. Actually when he expressed his first desire to be an astronaut right before that I gave him a book on Greek Myths about stars and constellations.......after that he got a book published by NASA for kids from his uncle.....Yes both of them also looks into YouTube time to time but that's not only about space.
        Specially younger one he jumps from subject to subject. Sometime after hearing the story of Titanic he was looking all Titanic related clips on YouTube side by side started drawing different kind of ships, some other time he became busy with clips of Cyclone , other time with different kind of planes.........so on and on

        Lately he (elder son) asked me to buy telescope for him , with limited ability I bought a small binocular he was happy but not satisfied I think , so he asked it from his uncle.....and got a toy telescope.

        Wishing best for your son
        • Jun 26 2013: Fortunately, Salim, the idea of being an Angry Bird was short-lived. I guess the thought of flinging himself against wobbly structures all day wasn't as fulfilling as he'd imagined...! ;)

          We are so alike in this, I see. I also love to explore an interest with my kids, whether it's art or space or the human body or... you name it! It's not only a wonderful way to bond with your kids (and learn new things, or remember stuff I'd forgotten!), but it can introduce them to all sorts of different aspects that branch off of that one interest - exploring space as an astronaut is one thing, discovering stars or delving into the history of constellations... it does go on and on! There is a wonderful app called 'SkyView' that allows you to view and learn about stars, constellations and planets. I bet your son would love that!

          Kids are amazing, though. A while ago, as I was watching my daughter paint, I asked her spontaneously 'Are you going to be an artist when you grow up?' As soon as I asked 'the' question, I regretted it. I felt like I was forcing her to give an answer she wouldn't be able to give me. You know what she said? 'Mama, I already AM an artist'.
          My heart!
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        Jun 26 2013: Wow that's so sweet of your little fairy :) . I fully agree with her , how come you adults think only Picaso, Dali, Raphael or Da Vinchi to be artist !!! What you will call those work which are coming out curious mind of kids through their lovely little hands on a piece paper or even on wall ? :D

        Few years back we ( me with my family) were stuck on traffic (my city can easily get one top spot if there is any competition among cities around the world as city of most traffic congestion). Being bored in traffic my younger one declared " once I grow up , I will make car that can fly , so no one need to be stuck in traffic"
        I told that's a great idea , we will wait for that day , I am sure you will do it.

        Elder one immediately told "that's not that great idea, and why we need wait so long "?
        Asked the elder why you are saying so ?
        " Both car and plane are there already , we just need to combine these two, why we need to wait so long then "
        Very valid point, may be someone somewhere is working on it I replied .
        Later I checked myself on net about it , and found yes lot of works are already done , only issue is the commercial feasibility and infrastructural as well as regulatory requirements.

        That's how kids can push us to learn new things right that time I realized .
        • Jun 27 2013: Yes! As a matter of fact, there was a flying car prototype made here in Holland, www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_wSkp_CIcg
          But perhaps the fine-tuning it needs, may come from your son's ingenuity... this is only the beginning!
          You never know where a passion can start. My mother always called it 'planting the seed'.

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