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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    Jul 10 2013: Lizz, i have been working on this question for last 8 months. We have been working to develop an education network for kids who are out of school. They are more than 7 million which are out of school. When we engaged these kids and try to communicate our values to them, we found different patterns. For example, A for apple may be the best start to teach a kid (4 years) whose mother language is not English, it took us more time to convince the kid to memorize A for Apple. But when we involved them in Activity Based Coaching (ABC) model we found better timings to learn. Now we dont only teach them A for Apple, we give them Apple. They learn how to find an apple in market, how to select healthy apple, how to wash it before eating, listen to the story of Apple Boy who discovered why apple fell on ground, and dispose the waste of eaten apple in a dustbin. This whole activity took 1 hour and 10 kids never forgot the procedure to eat an apple. They learned more quickly and easily.
    In this way, i feel talking to kids should be more than mere a talk and may involves more of activity. You provide them different sets of activities to select. Their selection will talk to you about their interest rather asking them direct question.
    • Jul 12 2013: I really like the apple example. I similarly taught my little one to wash her hands every time with a hand wash. Now she does it on her own most of the times. She is about 2years old now.
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        Jul 12 2013: We are working to generate similar activities to teach kids through activities.
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      Jul 13 2013: Great I will consider this example with my toddler son
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        Jul 15 2013: Regis, i would suggest you to record this video and post it for others and you can always keep it for other toddlers you may have in near future :).
        We are developing A-Z activities you can help us by teaching it your kids and showing the world so that other teachers and parents can benefit out of it.
    • Jul 14 2013: Qamar, this is truly inspiring! Communication is not just about talking and listening, it's about doing. Well done, I'd love to know more about your project!
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        Jul 15 2013: Thanks LIZ, your words are encouraging for me.
        i have recently posted an idea of Universal Network of Education on TEd. You can learn about my vision from there and can help us by suggesting your idea of educating kids as your profile says you are passionate about kids education.
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      Jul 16 2013: It is very nice to get an idea of what you are working on.
      I think that your method of interacting with kids is absolutely convincing. Because by teaching them things associated to a simple apple, you are actually help them to develop the ability to think perspectively and making connections between different issues which appear to be very useful for problem solving and generating new ideas.
      Additionally, it can also help to introduce global issues to the future generations through simple every day objects. That is truly amazing I really hope to join you one day.
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    Jun 27 2013: That's awesome Lizanne. It's been fascinating and helpful to me to understand how my kids engage with the world. It's allowed me to walk Jake's line fine line with a little more conviction.

    There have been many suggestions here and the basis of them all it seems to me is listening. The willingness to listen with the ears of your heart to young people gives them the belief that they are worthy and respected.

    This provides them the ability to feel trusted and develop a deep level of self confidence. Could be the basis of a revolution based on self esteem.
    • Jun 28 2013: Morgan, 'the ears of your heart'.
      LOVE that.

      I believe the importance of self-esteem is underestimated. Embracing emotion, learning respect through self-exploration, putting empathy into practice and genuine communication are essential tools for our children, and ourselves.
      I believe also, that we have the power to change our minds, but that kids have the power to change the world.
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        Jun 28 2013: Me too Lizanne.. I do believe that our young people have the opportunity to shift a lot of the craziness that we've created. They have the energy, passion, and creativity to make some big and important things happen.

        Part of the challenge is that when us as adults struggle with our own self esteem, and when we're overly focused on our own survival/thrival we don't give our kids the empathy and listening they need...and the cycle of low self esteem perpetuates.

        Having mentors/elders/coaches who are solid and able to put their needs aside and respond to others (empathy) is super important.
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        Jun 28 2013: I am also thrilled that more teens and parents are considering alternative options that include "finding your passion" or "discovering how to give the gift that I am on this planet to give."

        With this, I am super fascinated to see how it plays out, as saying that and doing that are really different.

        I feel lucky that I get to spend time helping teenagers build the skills they're going go need to navigate these waters
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    Jun 24 2013: Before you answer listen to a wise man

    On Children
    Kahlil Gibran

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.
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      Jun 24 2013: Beautiful Renee......thanks:>)
    • Jun 24 2013: Absolutely wonderful, Renee.

      I so agree - my children are a product of my genes, and my husbands genes, but they are very much their own individual selves. It is my job as a mother to help them along and gradually move away from me, with the strength and confidence to be independent. It's the paradox of parenting, and the beauty of it at the same time.
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      Jun 24 2013: And another wise man, John Lennon..

      "When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
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      Jun 25 2013: Wonderful Renee......Thanks for sharing.... I am fond of Kahlil....
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    Jun 25 2013: My parents never asked me what I wanted to be when I was growing up, and I am incredibly thankful for it!

    Instead, they did their best to encourage every interest I had. I went to science and history camps, dug for fossils, and worked with my school's science club to save acres of rainforest from deforestation. I had a microscope, for which my mother graciously pricked her finger (many, many times) to let me look at her blood cells with. I also played as a forward on my high school soccer team, and had an active social life. There was never extracurricular overload for me, or any pressure to choose something to do with myself when I grew up.

    As an adult, I'm doing work that I absolutely love and have 2 children (3 and 5 years old) of my own. I am definitely trying to follow my parents' example in this area.
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      Jun 25 2013: Hi Madeline! You are new to TED conversations? Welcome:>)

      I don't recall being asked that question either, and felt that all exploration was encouraged:>)
      It makes a HUGE difference in a persona's life!

      I sincerely hope you bandaged your mom's finger with "star" or "angel" Band-Aids, or something cool like that! LOL:>)
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        Jun 25 2013: Thank you, Colleen! Glad to be here!

        I don't remember giving her any Band-Aids, but I did make her grilled cheese to say thank you. :)
    • Jun 27 2013: Hi Madeline,
      thanks so much for your story - I was raised similarly. In fact, I told my parents the other day how grateful I am to them, for giving me the gift of solitude. They allowed me so much time to myself, to explore and discover, that I still consider the possibilities endless!
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    Jun 25 2013: Simple answer, empathy. Put yourself in the place of that child and try to see the world through their eyes. Imagine yourself in their world in their body at that moment. It works for adults too.
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    Jul 15 2013: First understand that you were once a kid, and how you would have felt
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    Jul 6 2013: LIZANNE!!!....LOOK WHAT I FOUND........
    • Jul 6 2013: Mary, this is golden!!! Straight from source! Thank you!!!
      I loved how Logan said that question is posed with the intention of finding out how kids can make a living, not how to make a life.
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      Jul 8 2013: "If your work isn't what you love, then something isn't right." - Talking Heads (David Byrne)
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        Jul 8 2013: I had never heard this song before.
        Thanks for sharing.
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      Jul 9 2013: Right on Mary!!
      Thanks for your awesome work
      I appreciate your wonderful energy and
      look forward to reading your inspiring posts:)

      "Happy and Healthy"
      ........let Logan guide our way!!
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        Jul 9 2013: Hi Juliette!!

        Ah shucks......all I did was share a link :)

        Wasn't that kid something else?
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        Jul 12 2013: Hi Juliette, I meant to reply to your other comment yesterday....but I keep getting interrupted and I have lost track of my comments.

        Thank you for your kind words Juliette.
        I also enjoy reading you wonderful comments.
        Bright and cheery......

        Have a great weekend.......which is just around the corner!!
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          Jul 12 2013: Thank you Mary M.! There are so many wonderful people in this world, and only a few who have the innate talent to create a warm sense of community, a cohesion, that is crucial for growth......The world needs a lot more of you in it.
  • Jun 28 2013: Always talk to the 'adult' you hope the child will become.
  • Jun 28 2013: In a another post I said my father taught me nothing, that's not exactly true...

    I was lucky as I always regarded him as personal tutor, and that was always the impression given. Taught me the marvels of the oceans, the vastness of the land, the bounty of nature, the mechanics of celestial bodies in the sky, the beauty that surrounds us all. Always willing to show and encourage me to explore brave new worlds, of both sciences and the arts, while showing me the abundance of opportunity that exists for me. Always there to help me with my homework. Always there to just make me laugh and just let me be the child.

    But I'll tell you, it wasn't all sugar coated, I was told about the mean side of life too, it shocked me, it made we aware of the dangers out there, to know and be told that is vitally important to for a child. That knowledge served me well. There were explanations, always showing me the right way.

    As I grew up, again, always there to show me alternative points of view, and not to be judgmental. No matter what people's lifestyle was, I learned it was a matter of choice, and to respect others choices. Always there to entertain me, always there to cheer me up when I was down, always there to inspire me when I was up. Always there when ever I was in need, no matter what time of day, though those difficult years.

    I look back now and i remember how big and broad... or maybe it seems just seems that way as I was small, viewing the world with a child's eyes. From big and broad, to much thinner today, maybe that's old age, maybe that's because I've grown up, maybe it's both.

    It's funny how old age tricks the mind, as you realize, that the same stories told years ago are still recanted to you verbatim today, but even though I know them and remember them well, sometimes I indulge, and show my respects for all that was done for me. So I just listen and remember the past.

    Who is he?

    He is my father. He is your father. He is the father of children today. He is tv.
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      Jun 28 2013: Wow Tify, yes, you are so right, tv is everybody's father......and yes, even though we have, for example, seen a program many times, we will sit and watch it old re-runs of our favorite show growing up.

      This is a good lesson that when our real parents repeat the same story for the upteenth time, we should listen and indulge them........and also when our children repeat a story do the same.

      We need a conversation on "How do you talk/listen to your parents"........Lizanne (wink wink....hint hint)
      • Jun 28 2013: When you watch the news tonight, maybe you'll see an old man with white hair, he represents your virtual father, and all that it entails.
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          Jun 29 2013: Tify, I can understand what you are saying.........but it is a sad thing to have a tv represent your dad.

          But I know you are correct in saying this.
          Alot of kids just have as their caretaker a tv set.
      • Jun 29 2013: I was talking about this Mary with some people, and read the comment I wrote, to some of them and maybe you too, it feels like a real gut punch at the last line. Others mentioned in the conversation after they got over the wow! of it had two alternative viewpoints, those being; (not including yours)

        That maybe what's really sad is that your father is not taking up the role.

        The other camp saw it as well look at all the benefits that the child is getting.

        Surprisingly some even went as far as saying that, in some circumstances they could see it as a better father, as certain very negatives aspects of human personality are not forcibly inflicted on the child, and therefore the child is safer.

        I must agree, I certainly can see the reasoning in that argument, and it really does hold water as a safer possibly viable alternative to anger frustration and abuse of of "real" person.

        Strangely, and as an adjunct, I also was watching something else recently, that now seems to clearly show the younger generation are more comfortable with machines and communicating through/with them, than in a direct person to person setting.

        I am surprised that you answered Mary, I'm not surprised it got no likes, I really did get this feeling when reading this out loud two days ago to a group, the same initial response was there in that it's one aspect of the question that Lizanne posed that really no-none whats to admit. A dark dirty secret of sorts.

        I get the feeling that a nicely worded platitude would have gone a long way in reaching many more ears, which to me, for many reasons, is a damn shame.
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          Jun 30 2013: Waxing grandiloquence is ok.....but sometimes, as in your case, speaking truth from your heart is just as moving and poignant.

          I have no problems interacting with people who are honest in their communication.
          Don't be surprised if I answer you when you speak truth and your words resonate with me.

          And Tify, I really feel you speak alot of truth, and you have quite a bit of insight into alot of social issues.

          And yes, even though I am not accustomed to speaking in such terms, it is a d____ shame that people do not realize the truth of your words........but, perhaps you may look at it this way------maybe, just maybe, they have nothing to add to your already honest contribution.

          Thank you for not keeping your thoughts and insights to yourself.
      • Jun 30 2013: I honestly admit Mary, it's honestly what I feel, and I did wax lyrical, and I deliberately wrote that last line leaving it to the last word.

        I wanted it to be a gut wrenching thing, something to think about, because all you have to do is look at advertising now .. the hammer over the head, as people dont react, think, get emotional, unless you do something like this, and because of the experience below I had with these kids below, and my own childhood, I can't sit by and say nothing.

        I have to at least try and make people think about it, not because it's an idea worth sharing, but because children are subject to our whims, fancies, idea's, frustrations and pain. And if we are going to ever make any progress, WE have to know and understand that we are the cause, and we are the cure.

        It's the same feeling when you see a kid on death row, who's mother was psychotic and on medication, and by another who took advantage and impregnated her. You know that people want the fix, ie the death penalty, but dont want to see and understand the cause. And until we put the effort in to get to that place, killing the victim of brutal circumstance, is no way forward.

        I apologize if I go on, but when you've seen the rewards in these kids eyes, hearts and minds, as I said below, even if it's only for two weeks, you wonder when will society as a whole get over the hump of the way it isolates and alienates so many children, who are unwitting victims themselves.
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          Jun 30 2013: No need to apologize ever for "going on".....your point is well taken.
          Thank you for your contribution, and for speaking honestly about this topic.
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          Jul 2 2013: Hi Jaden,

          Yes, I read that news and have been sharing it with my elderly friends here in Florida, and with my family.

          Also, I shared it with a 17 year old TED member yesterday in another conversation about lessons we can learn from older ones.

          Here is the news the way I read it:

          I will be reading your link and comparing information.

          Jaden, may I ask, did you get the two emails I sent you?

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          Jul 2 2013: Wow, the article really brought out more details than it's American counterpart.

          It is interesting that it mentions a "spiritual" and "moral" responsibility to the elderly.

          Also, they thought to include the children's employer in the legislation, providing time off to visit parents......did I understand that part correctly?

          And, lastly, the five points at the end were interesting.

          How has it come to this Jaden?
          Should a government have to make a law to force the children to love their aging parents?

          I am going to start a topic of conversation on this topic.
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          Jul 4 2013: Hi Jaden, your comment is very enlightening.......thank you for clarifying the Chinese version of the word spiritual is linked to the pursuit of happiness?

          I guess I also ask myself the same did it get to this point?

          I think that would make a wonderful title for the Conversation, don't you think?

          "How did it get to this point?"........

          I will submit the conversation tomorrow.

          The emails I sent you, I sent you through your TED profile.
          I just clicked "Send Jaden an email", in the right corner of your profile.
          You should have received two emails from TED that read: Mary M sent you a message.

          What I sent you was a reply to a question you asked in another conversation.
          Not a big deal.

          There is a character limit there. So you can not write too much.

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          Jul 5 2013: Thank you for further clarification of spiritual. It is very helpful.

          As far as the pursuit of is a kind of mirage isn't it?

          Pursuit....meaning chase after....not necessarily obtain guarantee.....But, you are free to chase will have the liberty to chase it......

          Happiness to me is something you can feel, inside, it does not come from external forces. Kind of like a joyful feeling that is always inside you, and reflects in your countenance.
          Also, there is contentment, satisfaction with your NOW moment in life.

          Happy if you are single, happy if you are married.
          Happy if you are with friends, happy if you are alone.
          Happy if you live in the city, happy if you live in the country side.

          It is a state of being for me.

          At least now Jaden, in this stage of my life.
          I am not looking for anyone or anything to make me happy.

          I am happy by myself. I do not chase things, or people to make me happy.
          I do not need to make more money to make me happy.
          I don't need an ipad, iphone, ipod.....I have I............I am the most important posession I I am happy.

          Do you understand?

          That is how I feel now.
          Because my life experience has brought me to this realization, and truth.
          My truth, based on my life journey.

          I think many immigrants do not understand declaration of independence.
          I think they view "America = guaranteed happiness".....some get very discouraged at all the hard work one must be willing to do to succeed.

          Arnab Dutta and Krisztian Pinter wrote some definitions in a conversation a while ago that shed light on different view of governments from different countries.

          Perhaps you will enjoy reading this lighthearted list of governments and their definition.

          Scroll down a little on this link to read:

          Which do you think the people will be able to pursue happiness better?
    • Jun 30 2013: WOW.
      Tify, your comment is extremely powerful, and says so much about why society is the way it is today.
      I agree with Mary, and also say "Thank you for not keeping your thoughts and insights to yourself."

      This is so vital!!! Television and media is the thing that is destroying communication, in my opinion. It is warping too many minds, minds that are not strong enough to realize what is truth and what isn't. You clearly had the strength to see the difference, but there are too many who are influenced to the point of forgetting their own beliefs. That is a dangerous development. As long as the TV is as powerful at it is, society will suffer.
      • Jun 30 2013: I say "damn shame" here are some reasons why:

        A lady I stayed with Europe ran a creche, 8 kids aged from 8-12, from 4pm to 6pm, to be safe until their parents collected them. Fair enough. I saw they were put in front of the tv, again understandable. 2 weeks I played a educational game with them 1/2 of them made a lego castle, the other 1/2 had toy/miniature metal cars. When the first group made the their building, the others took the cars and tried to ram the building to collapse it. Great fun, removing their frustrations. As the days went by, the kids (who swapped roles often) learned, and learned well, basic engineering principles of how to build better buildings. Sadly for all of us, when I left, we cried, not because I was leaving, it's as if all knew, it would be back to the old ways - the moment I was out of the door.

        I realized at that moment, we too often we don't look to ourselves, and what actions we take, day in and day out, that can drive the very child into isolation.

        Maybe we don't want to know the issue, we just want a resolution, or some platitude. To see that I need only look to America. School shootings are an example of this, school after school was exposed to these shootings. The "solution" was to put in metal detectors. For a while it worked, but the underlying isolation issue(s) were never addressed. People were genuinely surprised / shocked that then a cinema became the outlet. The response - beef up security.

        It seems inevitable they will continue, until WE really put the time & effort in to TALK and LISTEN to kids, & stop driving them away by our actions.

        How many nanny cases have there been? So now we cctv nannies. How many ask - if you have to go to those lengths is it worth putting your child at risk?

        The 1993 film "A perfect world" shows many other aspects. I recommend it.

        Isn't the original question “What are you going to be when you grow up?” - just another platitude - that again too often spoken in a non-serious tone.
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          Jun 30 2013: You know, I have also seen kids who have been sitting quietly in front of a tv set, come alive and jump for joy when an adult actually becomes aware of their presence, and engages them in a hands-on activity.

          The tv is a poor substitute for human interaction.

          Thank you for this reflection.There are many fields today where society looks for quick fixes without looking at the "ROOT" of the is the path of least resistance.

          It is my opinion, we need to individually be aware of this tendency.
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    Jun 26 2013: Playing role reversal.

    When my son was very young , we stayed in Saudi Arabia, he came back to India 4 months ahead of me and when i joined him, he was having lots of trouble adjusting to the new environment,also this was his first exposure to school. My heart bled and i was disturbed to see him like that.

    I came up with a plan to play role reversal with him.

    My kid will be my father and will answer my querries.

    Like i donot want to go to school today what should i do? I am afraid of certain teacher what should i do? I do not always like the food served to me and so on.

    Through his answers i could peep in to his heart and brain and will come to know what he needs from me and how can i help him. Prabably it also spurred his thought process and he started finding solutions for himself. Very soon he became a happy child as before. Now he is a bright medical student and in a few years he wiil practice medicine. I am happy.
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    Jun 25 2013: Instead of asking what the kids want to be when they grow up, we should ask them if we can grow down and party with them as kids. Childhood is a cherished period of life not only for the kids but for the parents too because it is a rare oppertunity for the parents to participate in a process of observing a better, fuller and wiser human being coming to shape in front of us.
    I did my best to relive a second life with my son, learning creyon painting, bayblade running, playing angry birds (so many techniques, you know), reading comics, then when he was in teens discussing girls, drinking beer without telling his mom, fishing (I entirely learnt it, no previous skills). Now that he is eighteen and he keeps his mobile conversations to himself - I wonder what I want to be when I am a kid again.
    Edit: I have yet not given up. I am revising differential equations from my son's books now and discovered that for second order equations I had some grey area that I can brush up now.
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      Jun 25 2013: Well said Pabitra...I LOVE it....ask them if we can grow down and party with them!!! Did you by any chance see the comment in which I provided the link with an article in "Maturity Magazine" about my play group? The article is titled..."Play with kids your own age". We're not really sure why we were featured in that magazine, because we're not sure if we are "mature" yet! LOL

      FYI -
      There seems to be a certain time when they start keeping information to themselves (teens), and now that my "children" are in their 40s, I am getting some of that information! LOL:>)
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        Jun 25 2013: I must have missed it Colleen. Will you please give me the link?
        It is silly to call people of age mature :) I am not going to be mature ever. A week ago, I had a round of kite flying and my neck and arm were sore from the exertion. I tried to explain to Sumana, in between scoldings, why it is so important to fly a kite at 51 :D
        It's a relief to know that I can make up on lost information sometime later and thank you for sharing this piece of info.
    • Jun 26 2013: YES!!
      Growing down! I love it!!

      Right now, my parents are visiting from the states. My kids are seeing first-hand that I am also someone's kid, and they adore it! My dad will still tickle me, which makes them just giggle to pieces.
      The other day, I almost peed myself when we all put on our baggy clothes and stuffed them with blankets, cushions, plush toys... then we rolled around on the floor and bumped into each other.
      That was definitely some growing-down time!!!

      Colleen, thank you for those links! Wonderful!
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    Jun 25 2013: Lizanne, I read a joke last week: Child: Dad, where do babies come from. Dad: Total shock and silance. Child: Its ok Dad if you don't know the answer just say so.

    As parents we agreed to answer all question in the most honest means possable. We did not set out to destroy Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny ... but a serious question should be delt with in the same manner .. serious. It is easier to use a correct medical term than to start the cutsie name game ... this does not mean to be blunt and uncaring ...

    It is my opinion that the kids have enough friends ... they need parents that are honest and can be trusted. When one of the children comes to talk ... stop what you are doing and look at them and reply as best you can.

    Kids do not come with a operations manual. Do the best we can and supply them with love, respect, and honesty.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Jun 25 2013: Loved your contribution Robert!!
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      Jun 25 2013: Good one Robert!
      That reminds me of a story with my daughter when she was about 2-3 years old! She was playing in the yard with her friend, when she came running in the house did I come from?

      I always tried to answer their questions with age appropriate honestly. As I was pondering how to simply and honestly explain the reproductive system, she got impatient with me and friend is from Burlington.....where did I come from? She wanted the name of a town/city.....not the reproductive story!!! LOL:>)
    • Jun 26 2013: Wonderful, Robert!

      When my kids started asking me 'THE' question, I pulled out Lennart Nillson's 'Miracle of Birth' DVD. We got (age-appropriate) books from the library, I told them all about how they were born, the weeks before, the days before, the minutes before... and look at them now!

      You mentioned Santa and the Easter Bunny. My daughter has wiggly teeth, so we're getting frequent visits from the Tooth Fairy these days. She told me, that a friend in her class told her that the Tooth Fairy isn't real, and that Mama and Papa take the tooth away. She asked me, if that is true? So, I asked her, "What do you think?", knowing I was throwing the ball in her court. She grinned from ear to ear, and said "No! The Tooth Fairy IS real!"

      When she is done believing in fairies, she'll let me know. Till then, we've got fairies galore.
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    Jun 24 2013: Encourage them to play!
    I'm reading a new book titled, "Free To Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self Relient, And Better Students for Life" by Peter Gray. I highly recommend it.
    This will also help us all reconnect to a part of our life the that we great overlook.

    Play more and reconnect with the child inside you. Other children will like you better.
    • Jun 24 2013: Yes, yes, yes, Theodore!

      There was a conversation a while back about the importance of playing pretending and make-believe:

      For some reason, society seems to determine that becoming an adult means neglecting the child we once were, when in reality, we still ARE that child. I agree, if we are in touch with that child, we will be able to communicate better not only with children, but with each other.

      I can't wait to hear more about this book, if you'd like to share any insights!
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        Jun 24 2013: I first became interested in the topic of play after hearing the TEDTalk by Stuart Brown
        A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults -- and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.

        His research started with criminals where he found that they suffered from a lack of, you guessed it, PLAY, in their upbringing. So we have some idea of what the deficiencies ends up looking like.

        Gray's book has some 46 items listed in the index related to "play."

        He write, The drive to play is a huge part of a children's natural means for self-education, so a portion of this book is about the power of play." And adds that for the past half century or more we have seen an erosion of children's freedom to play.
        • Jun 26 2013: This is truly fascinating, Theodore! Thanks for these links - this whole train of thought is very much in tune with how I personally feel, and particularly as a Mom.

          I recently stumbled across this book, called 'A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder' by Eric Abrahamson and David H Freedman:

          Kids' lives tend to be cluttered, unorganized, even chaotic - they are still learning organizational skills. How many times I try color-code the toy bins, the doll clothes are still always thrown in together with the Legos, and my kids can still always find what they need. What's more, they will invent new ways to combine their toys to create new games.
          Yet another exploration in how adults can learn from kids... perhaps?
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        Jun 24 2013: Lizanne,
        You took the words right out of my mouth.....Yes....Yes....Yes!!! :>)
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    Jul 22 2013: I was just thinking about how this conversation is dealing with how to talk with children........and somewhere in TED land, people are discussing the conciousness of plants.

    You gotta love the TED community.
  • Jul 21 2013: A woman I know is an incredible parent of two children who are now 18 and 12. From the moment she knew she was pregnant, she studied all the books and decided which ideas made sense. What she did, essentially (and does still), was give her child total respect and her full attention when they interact. It is a full time job. She and her husband home-schooled both of them until her daughter entered a public high school in the 9th grade. You can imagine how concerned her parents were, school memories being not so good for either parent, but she did well, was on the Varsity basketball team, and had a super time. To my knowledge, the siblings never fight; they have been allowed to explore their interests, but not required to continue if they lose interest. In other words, they were given love, respect, attention and time to learn who they are at a very early age, and they are amazing. I want my friend to start a parenting school as part of the Planned Parenthood program.
    • Jul 22 2013: seems all good up until ... "Planned Parenthood program", and the zeal of Sanger regarding negative eugenics, it's goal to change humanity by stopping reproduction of those considered unfit. Or that Sanger said the white race was superior to blacks when speaking at KKK meetings.

      Then on the other hand I've never seen the need for such organizations, as there are alternatives, but America does love politicizing things, and having lobbyists for all and sundry.

      Regarding the kids in the above paragraph, one thing does seem missing.... Drive.
      • Jul 22 2013: Out of curiosity, Tify, why do you think drive is missing from Stephanie's story? When I read it, I really don't see a lack of it at all, but I may be interpreting it differently. People who home-school their children are, to me, very driven indeed (I know many personally)! Just curious!
        • Jul 22 2013: Thats a good question Lizanne.

          and the paragraph came across to me, as the kids had lack of drive, or for Mary's sake :) Passion.

          That really what I felt was missing, Energy, Passion, Drive, although it might not be missing. Sometimes when people write the core of a subject can be elusive, and open to interpretation.

          And then like Mary they jump all over you. :)
      • Jul 22 2013: I should probably have not capped "planned parenthood," as I really meant a low cost program available for lower income parents.
        • Jul 22 2013: Whats the difference?

          and why should it only be for "lower income parents"?

          Are you telling me that wealthy parents always get it right when it comes to kids?
      • Jul 22 2013: I don't understand the "what's the difference" question. Anything that is available for low income parents is always available to upper income parents as well. The final question is just silly :)

        Also, with respect to "drive" -- I am not sure who would do the driving, nor where one would drive them. They excel at anything they do -- chess, music, photography, art -- and they are happy, joyful, loving kids. The recent graduate is going to junior college for photography classes -- that is her passion -- as well as taking the basics before moving on to a university for the last two years.
      • Jul 23 2013: Tify, I see - you were referring to the kids, not the parents...
        "Sometimes when people write the core of a subject can be elusive, and open to interpretation."
        100% true!
    • Jul 22 2013: Stephanie, this is wonderful! Parenting is absolutely a full-time job, and as many agree, a very under-estimated vocation!
      There are so many people who research and read and attend classes about how to raise their children. These things are there for a reason - and not just in the States! There is an abundance of parenting courses where I live, which are often fully booked. There are many parents, myself included, who wish to be the very best parent possible, for the sake of my children, and if there is something I need to learn, by golly, I want to learn it!
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    Jul 17 2013: Kids should be treated as kids, not simply small adults. Shower unconditional love on them. Give them an allowance, and help them learn about saving and budgeting. Have them help you with doing small housework so they can be with you and learn about life.
    • Jul 18 2013: John, superb thoughts.
      Your comment about small housework reminded me of something that happened yesterday. My daughter, who is almost 7, asked me yesterday if she could wash the dishes. I was thrilled! When I was growing up, washing the dishes was a precious time with either my Dad, or my Mom, or a Grandmother, when we would talk or sing, or just be silent, in any way, together.
  • Jul 10 2013: just talk normal. Treat them like just another human, as equals. Ask questions about what they are doing, how they like stuff. Show interest. Everybody loves that. Sometimes it helps to get down to their level, sit on the floor or kneel down so your eyes are on their level. Have fun!
  • Jul 7 2013: After reading all the comments, I come to some conclusion, that being that the comments here are personalizations and somewhat of a middle class mindset.

    One has to wonder are people narrow minded - Or is it that people can only really see their own position and not others - Or are they just projecting it (the question) to what it means to just - their children.

    And if so, what does that really and honestly mean for the millions of children who are in poverty, labor, and or in other dire circumstances around the world.

    Or does their far and distant voice not matter.. as no-one speaks for them, and no-one sees them.

    Will they ever achieve their passions? - Or do you write that kind of thinking off as a child of poverty.

    Are those very dreams your child has, and you have for your child - a luxury not afforded to, and far out of reach of these children of another land.

    Are we not all children of this planet? Are we not all parents of the children of the world? Is our very future not predicated on theirs...

    As Lizanne poses - "children are the future"... I pose "who's children?"...

    While you think about that and see the urls below, I'd urge you to think... there, but for the place I was born, go I.
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      Jul 7 2013: Tify, I cannot speak for everyone, but may I share something with you?

      Millions of individuals are working worldwide to help improve the way of life of many.
      Educating them. Instructing them in many diverse fields, to help them become loving parents, loving wives, loving husbands, responsible citizens. To improve literacy, and hygiene, and other social issues.

      I personally am part of a global educational work seven million plus strong.

      Through study of the Bible, I have come to know that the world will change for the better in the not too distant future. In the meantime, I, as well as those who belong to my faith, work locally to change one person at a time.

      TED has made me realize that there are many many individuals who share this desire for a better world.

      There are billions of individuals living worldwide. Many of the changes that need to occur, need to come from within the individual......corruption has to be eliminated........from government mainly......and then there has to be a trickle down effect.

      Please know that amidst all of the terrible things you see, and I see, and we all see, there are millions of individuals working for a change, and praying for a change.

      The question is..........will we live to see it?

      My sincere desire is that the answer will be a resounding YES!!

      (Did you ever see the link Lizanne gave of the fill-har-monic on vimeo?)
      • Jul 8 2013: Of course you can share Mary, it's always a pleasure to listen. But sometimes we respectful disagree.

        Which is the exact reason I mentioned those 'unseen' children. To open people's eyes, and as Linzanne says that dreams, and opportunity are up for grabs in the 'western world', and that has been the view point of most comments here.

        As for praying for change, I nave never believed in it, change is inherently up to us. Small decisions effect change, one such example would be NOT to upgrade to the newest iphone, as the minerals, metals, and other elements needed have major social and medical implications to the very children people people pray for. Seems to me that one has a very simple choice, weather one's brave enough to stand by the courage of one convictions is another. Which is somewhat ironical as someone was crucified for actually doing that.

        As I mentioned before we, of which I am a part do provide free education and training to over 500,000 people across the world. But unfortunately that's not enough. The plight of the Philippines, and many other countries, debt repayment which is forced by the IMF, the banks, keeps places suppressed, with little or no education, medical nor social services. And the children suffer. How much is this debt, less than the cost of a fighter jet. The reason I say this is too often the facts are mismanaged, where one puts it down to corruption*, and does not realize that half of all the money in used for interest on debt.

        I find it laudable that you hope the answer will be yes, I dont believe that to be the case.

        Not unless we can all see that everyone's child, every person irrespective of where they are born deserves and should be afforded equal opportunity. The reason for this post.

        *corruption: Like the IMF giving a loan to the Philippine government, to build infrastructure projects, like a nuclear power plant, which was designed and built by GE, on a major earth quake fault lines, many years ago. Still inoperative.
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          Jul 9 2013: It seems that you are preaching to the choir Tify.

          Many of us are like you, doing something to change the world.

          Don't you believe your efforts will help?

          Sounds like you feel something bigger has to happen.

          If so, then what do you propose the bigger thing that has to happen should be?
      • Jul 9 2013: Not really Mary.

        While some of us are doing something, and that's worthwhile, often our efforts get massively trumped. You only need see the latest Ted talk on corruption.

        A bigger thing, would be that, Shell, Dictators, Misters et al...responsible for state assets who use them illegally, like in that Ted talk, are simply jailed, the funds repatriated, and Shell etc left out in the cold, 1/2 billion dollars down the hole.

        If that were to happen, then the poverty and the lost dreams of those children, would soon come back, and the efforts -we- make, would then add significant value to the future of those kids.

        The way it goes now, Shell, nor HSBC are not seen to be guilty, ie they keep the assets illegally gained.

        Thats the bigger thats needs to happen to really start to make a difference in the lives of children in the (developing countries - who am i kidding being politically correct) - 3rd world.
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          Jul 9 2013: As I listened to that talk yesterday.......I kept thinking of you over and over.

          Just know that something bigger will happen Tify.......I truly believe it. I really do.

          What about the elderly? You haven't gone back and replied to my questions on the elderly?

          I'd love it if you went over and added some insights, or thoughts.

    • Jul 7 2013: This is such an important point, Tify. Your comment reminds me that dreaming of what we can achieve as kids, suggests that dreams are pretty much up for grabs in the wealthy parts of the world. Opportunity is everywhere, chances are plenty when you're lucky enough to be born in certain places...

      I do sincerely agree with Mary, too, that those chances are spreading out, slowly but surely. Indeed, the first thing that comes to mind is the Landfill Harmonic (thanks for the link, Mary) as well as the inspiring Richard Turere, and his invention that "Made Peace with the Lions":

      Whether we will live to see the fundamental change, that promises the same chances and opportunities to all children, around the globe, I don't know. But you know, the chances and opportunities children have in the poorer regions of the world may be just as challenging and their achievements are just as worthy of celebration. But the chances for children to 'just' be children may be the greatest challenge they face.
      • Jul 8 2013: I'm really glad you see it as an important point, I felt like it was an issues that was / is being completely overlooked. And I can't be one of those people who say, I'm alright, so to hell with the rest.

        For as long as we continue to do that, we will always have children who are slaves.

        So I thought I would speak up for all those that have no voice.
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    Jul 4 2013: My fiance is spending the day at a children's charity today. He was terrified! Children 'freak him out' because he doesn't know how to talk to him. I just received a text message and picture that one of the kids drew for him - he is having an absolute blast! Before he left this morning I told him to 'just be'... Don't put your expectations or ideas onto kids, let them tell you how they feel and what they think. I think it was Picasso who said that the hardest thing an adult can do is to think like a child - but when we do, it is fantastic!
  • Jul 4 2013: This is a very interesting post. I learned a long time ago not to ask my children WHAT they want to be but rather WHO. When they were very young they had no idea what I was talking about. Now they have a better understanding, but it is still a difficult conversation since most of their peers don't think this way. I also have goals for my children that are character goals. I want them to have resilience, flexibility, and the belief that sometimes just showing up is a huge step. We talk about this and I try to find things that demonstrate it in every day life and then point it out. But it isn't just talking, it is doing.
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    Jul 3 2013: A very interesting discussion. As a resilience therapist I work a lot with kids who have been bullied or who lack self-esteem and confidence. It's essential that we teach kids from very early on to be self-aware and resilient. Be honest with children - they know when we are lying anyway - and allow them to express their views and opinions. For many parents, having a child who has vastly different passions and capabilities to them (I loved dance, my father is a CA) can be tough and a challenge but allow kids the room to do what THEY are good at, rather than what you would like them to be good at.
    • Jul 4 2013: Resilience is my top goal for both my children ! It is the only way to deal with an ever changing world for the next 60-70 years. There is no knowledge base that I can provide for that. But I can aim for curiosity and resilience.
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    Jul 1 2013: Encourage self learning. Ask them questions and show them were they can find answers. Heres an idea:
  • Jun 29 2013: I thought the question was, "What do you want to DO when you grow up?"

    This question will never be retired and it should not be. It is natural. The purpose of our extended childhood is to prepare for adulthood. This question focuses attention on the future. It expresses our confidence that the child HAS a future. It does NOT impose any limits. If someone expects a particular type of answer, that expectation is the problem. Most young children do not even understand the concept of a career, they just see people doing things that seem exciting to them, and they want to do it too. It takes an adult to interpret their answer as a career choice.

    We talk to kids with open ended questions for a very good reason, to let them mentally explore all that they have already learned. The answers provide a starting point for further lessons.
    • Jun 30 2013: Barry, that one word, DO', changes the entire meaning of the question for me, opening it up and allowing much more freedom! I agree completely, that an expected answer can limit an answer to an otherwise positive, constructive question. Like you say "It takes an adult to interpret their answer as a career choice."
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    • Jun 30 2013: Yes, Keith. Such big difference between talking with someone, or to them, or even AT them.
      Eye-contact is essential.
      My son has delayed speech, probably due to the simple fact that he was more interested in climbing stuff and working on his motor skills than his language skills. Priorities! It was very hard to make eye contact with him during those years, and many of his care-givers were convinced he was autistic. I was convinced he was not, and spent a lot of time just kneeling near him, making him know I was around, without ever saying a word. We are now years down the line, and he is one of the most elaborate story-tellers I know!

      (Huge Cat Stevens fan - thanks for reminding me of that wonderful lyric!)
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    Jun 25 2013: I think that children are often censored from too much. There is a fine line between protecting their innocence and giving them a false sense of what the world is like or what people are capable of. Should they know the dangers of a kidnapper, pedafile, robber, or serial killer? I'm sure that children in the late pleistocene weren't sheltered from the butchering of a mammoth or when "Uncle Drok" was slaughtered by a saber-toothed cat. I know it's a different time, but today's world presents it's own set of dangers that children should be frightened of, not just aware of. Fear is the necessary emotion for survival. For example, children don't have a true sense of fear for what can happen if you cross the street without looking. I know from experience as my 5-year-old nephew was struck and killed by an SUV when crossing the street in his neighborhood, just three years ago.
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      Jun 25 2013: Jake,
      I am so sorry about your little nephew.....that is horrible!

      I agree with you that there is a fine line between protecting and/or giving kids any kind of false sense of what the world, and people are like.

      I happened to be in the library the other day, and overheard a program on safety for little kids. The presenter talked about fire and rescue safety, calling 911, etc. and that seemed to be only a small part of the presentation, because most of the kids seemed to know a lot about that already, which is good.

      The bulk of the conversation seemed to be about people....who to be aware of....who to let in the house....or not.....who to avoid....etc. It felt a little like the kids were being introduced to a lot of fear and apprehension. And yet, I know that this stuff is important in our world as it is today.

      When I started 1st grade, I took a public bus to and from school by myself, and thought nothing about it. Can you imagine putting a 6 year old on a public bus today by him/herself? Like you say Jake, things change in our world, and it's important to keep kids informed.

      Very sorry again about your loss.
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        Jun 25 2013: Thank you Colleen. I think that because tragic events are so televised that people in general are replacing vigilance with paranoia. My wife calls it "a mother's love for her child", which I take as insinuating in some sense that I don't love our children as much. :-) But I have to regularly persuade her to loosen the reins a bit, so to speak. It's even more difficult after the death of her sister's boy. Our children should be allowed to play in our neighborhood, or walk home from the bus stop. We have to trust that we've done our best to teach them the dangers as well as tell them to trust their instincts.

        When one of our vehicles was being repaired and she questioned how our teenage daughter might go to the mall to hang out with her friends, I suggested she could take a cab. From her reaction you would think that I was dumb enough to let our youngest play with a loaded handgun. :-) I thought back to my childhood, when I had taken a cab by myself several times, similar to your bus rides. I try and explain the odds of someone abducting her, and compare it to the odds of being killed in an auto-accident, which are much greater. My wife considers traveling in a car an accepted risk. And even though the odds of being abducted are infinitesimally small, it's a roll of the dice she can avoid, so chooses not to.

        I understand her logic, however I tend to look at things a bit different. While serving in Iraq, I was conflicted to which path I could take to work every day. One path had recently been struck by insurgent mortars. The other path had yet to have been hit. So I thought, "maybe I should take the path that has been recently hit", sort of a lightining doesn't strike the same place twice mentality. But then I would think, "no maybe I better take the other path, as the insurgents may have their sites "dialed in" to the previous path." Eventually I gave up and realized that we can be vigilant but sometimes we just have to live life and accept our fates. :-)
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          Jun 25 2013: Jake,
          It sounds like you and your wife have found the balance of loosening the reins and pulling them back in at times.

          I am glad you're back home, and I thank you for your service. While I do not like war, I totally support those who continue to fight for freedom. My father, 4 brothers, 1 sister, x-husband, many other relatives and friends served in the armed services and fought in wars.
          I cannot even begin to imagine how it feels to have to make the decision to take a path based on which one might be hit by insurgents! My heart goes out to you for what must have been a frightening experience.
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          Jun 26 2013: I can relate very very well to the "motherly love". Insulting it is, very insulting, competitive, and completely off the map. Why? I don't know, a freaking anti-social gender epidemic going on today? Sorry, I'm getting flashbacks ;() I hope I fail at predicting your future for a moment of uncontrolled thought from my past experiences, Jake.
          Sorry about your loss.
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        Jun 25 2013: Colleen, your comment reminded me of a time my kids and I left a movie theater at 11:30 in the morning.
        We had attended a 10 o'clock free viewing of a children's movie.

        The theater was packed with around 500 children from all kinds of summer programs.

        Well, as I was driving out of the parking lot, out of a theater side door comes a 5 year old.
        He opened a fire door, and stepped outside, and just as quickly the door shut behind him, and he was locked out of the theater. If I had not been there at that precise moment to see that happen, and to get out of the car to walk him back inside, I shutter to think what could have happened to him.
        He just stood there, not moving.

        It took a long time to find the party responsible for the little boy.

        I kept thinking of the little boys mom, and how she would probably never find out what her son did that morning.

        Although we want our children to retain their seems like we have to prepare our little ones to face all kinds of dangers.

        That day provided an important lesson in life for alot of people........the child, the caretakers, the theater personnel, my kids, and me.
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          Jun 25 2013: Glad you were there Mary, to rescue the little one:>)
    • Jun 27 2013: Wow... Jake, I am so sorry about your nephew - that is truly heart-breaking. I myself was hit by a car, and consider myself extremely lucky to still be walking around. This breaks my heart.

      The world is full of dangers - all we want to do is protect children, but help them find their own way at the same time. Like you say, Jake, the line is very fine indeed.

      This is a powerful thread, thank you all for sharing these.
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      Jun 27 2013: Phew. So sorry for your family's loss Jake.

      We often say to kids "Don't talk to strangers". I believe this is a damaging idea, implying that the world is a scary place.

      When my 7 year old got lost in the grocery store, I wanted him to be able to identify a safe person and ask for help. I didn't want him to sit around looking vulnerable not being willing to talk with all the strangers out there.

      It's not "don't talk to strangers" it's "talk to the right strangers". The world of talking to strangers is much more friendly, trusting, and healthy.

      My kids and I actually practice, "is that someone you'd approach? Why? Why not?" And by listening to their responses, I got a feeling for their intuition and instinct about people. And I've learn where and where not to trust them, yet.

      I also modeled talking with strangers, both "normal" ones and potentially "dangerous" ones (like the angry drunk homeless guy in our neighborhood). I want my kids to be able to handle themselves in the real world.

      It understand how hard it can be for parents to walk that line of trussing & protecting. The results can be tragic - either as Jake experienced or years later when you have a teenager heading off into the world who doesn't feel trusted or trust themself to negotiate the world "out there".
      • Jun 27 2013: Morgan, this is a wonderful practice!!
        We're dealing with scenarios we'd rather not want to think about, but the fact is, it is better to be prepared for any eventuality. I LOVE the idea of regularly and openly talking wi kids about who would be a good person to approach if they were lost. I have never considered this, and am extremely glad you shared this, which I am definitely going to put into practice too!
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    Jun 25 2013: The last time I had the chance to spend time with my kids we colored together. Before we started drawing and coloring I told them to close their eyes and relax as much as possible. I told them to let an image naturally come to their mind whatever it may be then put it on paper. They colored heads rolling off of bodies and blood everywhere (we should have not just watched Scarface together). I KID!...Really, I'm just Kidding! This is not what they laid down on paper nor did we watched Scarface. It really started out in a dream state (bubbles) with both of them and reality slowly started to show up (people and animals). I would like to broaden their imagination as much as possible a little bit at a time.

    My oldest (7 years old) just came out of the blue one day and told me she wanted to be a designer when she grows up. I told her she has plenty of time and to just be a kid. I tell you, she is 7 going on 16. How did this happen is what gets me wondering and I believe I have the answer.

    I miss the tickle tortures and you know it's something, they always request by coming up to us and saying, "please don't tickle me, PLEASE!" with this huge grin from ear to ear. They'll start laughing and running away without even touching them. LOL Maybe we should invent tickle torture chambers instead of everyone being on some kind of happy pill.
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      Jun 25 2013: Well, design can start anytime. Designing ones own bedroom, designing a day, designing the doll house, she can build with Dad.... Designing a little bit of her life, while being ok with just being a kid. And, knowing that her kid will always be safe to come out and play, no matter what age she grows to be. You sound like a good Dad, Mr. Vincent. Sounds like life with you will be good, cause you will make sure that is so! This is good.
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        Jun 25 2013: Thanks for your kind words and advice, Crystal. Now that I think about it, I know where some of this came from. Her room! I put purple and white stripes on her walls, a sun burst design of red, yellow, and white stripes on her ceiling with stripes on the fan of red and blue alternating so when you turn the fan on it's a strobing purple effect.

        For some reason I thought she was talking about fashion design because she is so picky about what she wears.
    • Jun 26 2013: Oh my goodness, Vincent, I LIVE for tickle torture. My daughter, who will be 7 in August, does the same exact thing.

      I can't tell you how much I love what you said, that "she has plenty of time and to just be a kid". I get the impression kids are overloaded with activities, which are often geared towards a career of some kind in the future. My daughter just started ballet, and I was concerned about finding a school where 'becoming a professional ballerina' was NOT the goal. My daughter loves to dance, and is a kid. Those two ingredients do not mean, in my opinion, that she should become a professional dancer. If she DOES, then that's wonderful, If not, that's wonderful too.

      I also wholeheartedly agree with you, Crystal, that they can begin any time doing the things they like. By allowing our kids the freedom to explore and express, instead of putting any pressure on them to 'be successful' at it (according to grown-up norms), I am convinced the things they like can grow into things they love.
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    Jun 24 2013: G'day Lizanne

    Allow children to be children & not something else that we as grown up's perceive, let them grow up in their own time to find their own perception & way, in this comes independence & self reliance any other way is making sure they are reliant & dependent for the rest of their lives. This is of course giving them free will instead of being locked into someone else's will.

    My step daughter studied music, double English & was in the process in getting a degree in teaching, she pulled the pin a few months before graduating because teaching wasn't for her. Most of the family were quite upset but I wasn't because this was one of her first major decisions she had made on her own, I supported her all the way.

    Give them support but never think or decide for them when plausible!!

    • Jun 26 2013: This is a great example, Mathew, of how I also think.
      At one point, we all choose to study - or not - based on what we want to achieve. But we are humans, and our minds have a tendency to change! Personally, I went to art school and studied print techniques, then I studied monumental design, then I studied fashion design. I quit early, then went on to be a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, an illustrator. Right now, I have been focusing on music. But I am still all these things. Just because I am concentrating on one passion, doesn't mean the others will 'go away'. We are a multitude of things, and one of our passions may lead us to another, perhaps hidden passion, if we embrace it!
      I applaud your step-daughter for giving it a go, and for deciding not to pursue teaching after all. We need to give things a shot, before we know if they're right for us, or not, don't we?

      I agree, total and unconditional support is key.
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    Jun 24 2013: Maybe instead of asking them what they wanna BE, ask them what they wanna DO.

    "What ya wanna DO?"

    I wanna climb mountains and swim and build robots and etc...

    Gives you a much better idea of their intrests and you can go from there to finding out jobs that match their interests.
    • Jun 24 2013: Ok, I really like this, Michael.
      This to me, is a great alternative. By simply changing one word, the question suddenly becomes more open and desirable to answer, doesn't it! Finding a career, or a vocation, or a purpose, or a livelihood, is all about finding out what it is you love doing, and has nothing to do with fitting into a mold or living up to anyone's expectations.
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    Jun 24 2013: I'm not sure if we should talk to kids in any other way then we do to adults...
    And asking anyone for a life goal is getting quite serious very fast, even when asking an adult (I still don't know).

    So I think you should talk to kids in the same ways as adults, only you have to presume that they don't know a lot of stuff that you'll have to teach them (unlike adults?).
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      Jun 24 2013: Agree Jimmy! Except I don't presume that they don't know a lot. Kids are very intuitive, smart, and teach us quite a bit when we listen.

      Kids come into this world open, honest, trusting, curious, joyful, eager to learn and unconditionally loving. Some kids, unfortunately, have challenging lives, which cause them to build emotional walls around themselves. Then, as adults sometimes try to connect again with those childlike qualities.

      I like to talk with kids in a way that encourages and supports the nurturing of the qualities they naturally have, and I can learn as>)
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        Jun 25 2013: I did not mean that they are dumb or anything Colleen, I simply meant that there are many terms (like global economy and socialism and such) that kids often don't know, it's something that usually comes with age. Therefore you would do right in presuming that there are some things that they are likely to not know of yet.

        And I fully agree with all the attributes you've assigned them.
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          Jun 25 2013: I got that Jimmy. I agree that there are some things they don't know yet, or don't understand. It seems that sometimes, people assume that little people need to be taught everything, and we forget that they have something to teach us as well:>)
    • Jun 24 2013: So, talk to kids like they're people.
      Yup, I'm all for that! ;)
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    Jun 24 2013: For the very young, it is simple enough not to ask anything of this kind. By the time kids are in middle school, asking what their interests are so far is a way of finding out about what excites them without conveying the idea that these interests are permanent or must be translated into a career path or life goal.

    I have never found it difficult to talk with kids!
  • Jun 24 2013: Yup! Asking a very young child what they want to be when then grow up is pretty silly to my way of thinking.
    When children are shown & taught a variety of things, from a broad spectrum, they have a much better footing to set goals on. Hopefully parents, as well as teachers, have even field trips to various places to broaden the child's mind.
    That question, should wait till they are in early teens at the soonest.
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    Jun 24 2013: I asked many a times different 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
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        Jun 25 2013: Ha ha ....I will follow it up and let you know :D
    • 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 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,
          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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    Jul 23 2013: When children are young we watch with great pleasure as they play and discover the world around them but after a while we loose patience and start controlling them rather than teaching them. To make them fit some preconceived idea of how they should act and interact. This restrict there individuality and they soon become part of something that they might not like. How do you talk to kids? You don't. You set a good example and hope they find some value in it.
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      Jul 23 2013: a ha ,good."u set a good example and hope they find some value in it"
    • Jul 23 2013: Raymond,
      This is true, children are often the 'victims' of parents who try to achieve their own failures through them, or live vicariously theough them, or push them in directions that aren't right for them. This is exactly why I posed this question. I still find communication essential, though. To me, your answer touches on the vital difference between talking TO and talking AT kids.
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    Jul 23 2013: As a teenager.. I can't help but to hate and love my parents at the same time; I have this confusing mixture of emotions towards my parents. Every single word they say sounds like a nitpick, but when I start to hate them, I feel very guilty... However, some of my friends don't even feel this sense of guilt and always say bad things about their parents. I think what filled the huge gap between me and my parents during my puberty was the fact that we often have conversations although I am busy going to academies racing towards high grades. When I come back from school, my mom always says, "Did you enjoy school today?" or "Did something particular happen?" These are just ordinary subjects any adults can come up with, and I think these were the keys that opened my mind towards them. In addition, my parents tell us (me and my sister) to always say "Hi!" and "See you later!" when coming back or going to some place. She considers it very important. Sorry for a long, fuzzy answer and my bad English skills;; So my answer is, share a conversation; every small bit WILL help them in every ways.
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      Jul 23 2013: Hong-Min, it is so nice to hear from a young person in this conversation.
      How interesting to read about your feelings for your parents......yes, I remember how I felt like that sometimes, when I was a teenager too.

      What I find of value in your comment, is that your parents encourage communication.
      How wonderful of them.
      I cannot think of anyone better to have as friends, than one's own parents.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

      And, your English is just wonderful!!!!

      I am Mary. Nice to talk to you.
    • Jul 23 2013: Hong-Min, to me, this answer is possibly the most important of all!
      Thank you for sharing this personal story, and how important even the smallest form of communication is when building strong and lasting relationships between adults and kids! I love the idea of simply saying "Hi" and "see you later". I do the same thing. To me, this is not only communication, it's respect.
      The questions your Mom asked you were super, in my opinion. Open-ended, no pressure, you could give any answer you felt like and it would be ok. Keeping the lines open and accessible are important, especially as kids get older. If there's one thing kids can't stand, it's nosey parents, right??
  • Jul 22 2013: It's kind of a "homemade" chicken soup :)
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      Jul 22 2013: Stephanie, do not reply to this comment from your email.

      Come back and hit the "red reply" button next to my name, and that way, you will be answering me directly.
      Otherwise, your comments appear to be directed at noone in particular......I know, it sounds crazy.....but it's the truth.

      I actually think you or Tify should start a new conversation about 'drive' or 'goals', in the debate section.
      What do you say...?
      • Jul 22 2013: I came to the site to reply to Tify, but did not see the "reply" box.. I am new here, so thanks for info. If Tify would like a discussion of goals and drive, it could prove informative.
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          Jul 22 2013: I really do think so Stephanie.

          You can start the conversation as well....and I know alot of people would enjoy contributing their two cents to it.

          Do you know how to go about starting a conversation?

          Oh, and sometimes, when you have chatted back and forth for a while....then the reply button disappears from the last entry, but all you have to do is go to the last reply button by the person's name, and hit it to reply. Hope I've helped.
      • Jul 22 2013: Ah; so this is replying to your second message, even though I clicked on the reply next to the first one? No, I have not started a conversation here. To tell you the truth, I do not know how others define "drive" and "goal" besides the obvious, so I would not know how to frame the conversation.
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          Jul 22 2013: Well, you can format the conversation with a question:

          "How do you define the words "drive" and "goal"?
          Are they the same to you?
          Or should we see these two words as different?"

          It is that easy!!!

          If you click the "Question" icon on top of this page, automatically it will invite you on the upper right to "Start your own conversation".

          You click there, and then fill in the blank questionnaire.

          The TED team will review your question, and then post it within the day.

          You can post a question for a day, a week, or a month.

          Give it a go Stephanie!!!
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          Jul 22 2013: If you want to see how I have formatted my conversations, you can go over there to the left, and search for conversation topics "conversations by".

          You can type Mary M. in the search box, and all the conversations I have ever hosted will pop up. This might help you.

          You can search any TED members conversations by just typing their member name.

          Hope all this information helps you.

          Mary. :)
      • Jul 22 2013: Thanks. You have been very helpful and welcoming. So far, my experience here is much more informative and useful than most other sites.
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          Jul 22 2013: You're welcome.....and stick around and join the conversations, or just read.
          It's a great site for learning a lot of things, and meeting your fellow humans from all over the world. :D
  • Jul 22 2013: Thanks for your comments. My idea of working through PP was not a political statement, as Tify seemed to think. My point was not the organization, but the idea of providing good instruction for people who have little time and less money -- through the school system would be an alternate. I, too, was confused about "drive" -- the son plays and loves the piano so well that he got his mom interested in it again; the girl got excellent grades, was captain of her team for two years running and received several nice awards.. They were not the goal of her endeavors, however. If the goal had been to "win" awards, then I would have said she was driven.
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      Jul 22 2013: I personally hate the word 'drive' me it has a negative at all cost.

      I prefer the use of the expression "goal oriented"..........short term and long term.

      And the life experience itself is very valuable.

      Why must one have "drive"?

      We all have different personalities, and we just don't know what is inside a person's heart, or how they plan on achieving their goals.

      Best not to judge......that is mho.
      • Jul 22 2013: Why do you have the word drive Mary? Well you get in the car and do it every day, drive, from point A to point B. Or maybe when you get in the car you're goal orientated to get from Point A to Point B. The comment seems much ado about nothing.

        Where as the problem is Mary, honestly, every one does judge, just as the section of the paragraph, "providing good instruction for people who have little time and less money", what does that say?

        I'll tell you what it does say and implies, it sends Mellisa Gates off to Africa with condoms in hand, telling all the poor black people, what they need to do, because she's wealthy so implicitly she must be right. Because they, the poor they are implicitly ignorant black people, just can't manage to organize their lives, nor families, without this white woman showing them the way, and then we should all applaud that white colonialism isn't dead.

        Maybe you know, maybe you don't - poverty does not equate to stupidity.

        Excuse me if that comes over as harsh, it clearly time the truth of that poverty lie was eradicated. Because I bet you a dollar to ten, you'd never say that a poor kid was somehow less able, less intelligent, just because of lack of money. Least I hope not.
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          Jul 22 2013: Hey, what do you mean "and then like Mary they jump all over you???"
          I take umbrage with that.....kinda sorta.

          I like to take umbrage's a great pastime with me......

          I see where you are getting at with the expression of little time and less money........

          I know absolutely nothing about the Planned Parenthood organization.

          I honestly have never looked to an organization to help me with life decisions.

          I go out and read when I need to know....but do not look at organizations that deal with special services.

          I have no opinion one way or the other.

          As to Missy Gates, well, I can see where you are upset at what her actions are insinuating.
          It's very very sad how Americans go to "help" others around the's kind of a slap in the face. But maybe some people who are helped do not see it that way.

          Like always, your comments are charged with emotions, and with alot of truth.

          And no Tiffy, poverty does not equal lack of intelligence....not in my book.
        • Jul 23 2013: I know I've shared this before, but this young man made such an impression on me, and the matter of poverty and intelligence immediately reminded me of him:

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    Jul 19 2013: I wanted to add another thought. It's also important to realize that children "speak" in many languages--not just conventional use of language the way adults use it. They express themselves and their agency through many different modes including verbal language, but not limited to it.
    • Jul 23 2013: Marjorie, what an insightful comment indeed!
      My kids both had delayed speech - they were clearly busy developing other things besides language, and we allowed them their freedom to do so, in doing so, I believe we helped them gain confidence in who they were, and are, regardless of their ability to articulate it through language!
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    Jul 19 2013: I think this is a very important question. For me, the starting point is truly valuing the ideas and questions of the child as much as my own--actually thinking of that child as another person on equal ground. From that starting point it is not that hard to have a genuine conversation with a child.
    • Jul 19 2013: Absolutely. Kids see straight through the patronizing language. Even my kids wonder why the people in some children's shows 'talk with such a weird voice'. Taking children seriously is definitely step 1.
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    Jul 10 2013: Little brats always asking questions or they want to horn in on what you are doing eventually making you stop whatever you are doing because you're showing them how to do what you were doing. Why weren't they born with a remote control like tv's?
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      Jul 10 2013: Ken, Yes children are inquisitive. Their mind is a blank slate and the answers to their questions is how adults write on that slate to help them learn and figure things out. Since they certainly do not come with a remote, or even a handbook, I strongly suggest that you do not have any.
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        Jul 10 2013: Oh Amy don't you see the three phrases built into my comment? The last is the most poignant.
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          Jul 10 2013: Hi Ken, What a relief. No, I did not dissect your comment. I was just so angry that anyone would say those things. So glad it was in jest!!!
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        Jul 19 2013: To Amy's comment, I feel that actually their minds are not "blank slates" and that thinking of them this way or articulating it this way is actually a barrier to connecting with children. Children have their own agenda and actively pursue it at least from the moment they are born--I think one of the secrets of success as an adult interacting with young children is working on trying to figure out their agenda rather than always thinking the burden is on me to set one.
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          Jul 19 2013: Marjorie: Thanks for your comment, I do realize that it is not a completely blank slate and that there are certain personality traits that children are predisposed to in their genes. I was actually responding to Ken, and I didn't go into detail about all of the things that kids naturally want to do as a result of all the wonderful things that are already in their minds just by being here. I am all for trying to figure out your child's agenda. You put that so well. Parents needs to ask what interests the child and go from there, nurturing their interests and cheering them on with their successes. I personally was put into dance school for eight years as a child. Apparently, my mother never noticed that I was a complete clutz. And what I have to say about pageant moms cannot be written on TED. So, I just wanted you to know that I of course agree that they are not totally blank, but much more flexible to steer when children.
    • Jul 12 2013: You got to watch the movie 'Gods must be crazy'. It's a pretty old movie, however you have to consider the tribe to kids and the urban ones to the adult. Then you will know how difficult it is for the kids to accept & accommodate all the customs adults have formulated.
  • Jul 10 2013: Just by listening and communicating with the kid. They have to know that you are there for them and that their opinions really do matter. Most parents hear without listening. Talk with them and listen to what they have to say. Don't treat them like a little kid.
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    Jul 8 2013: Try to think yourself as a kid, try to hunt down all the memories and situations that you had been through when you were a kid,the way you did act for some particular situations, the way you talk, the way you use to think,the way you choose to make friends, think about the things you thought are mistakes and shouldn't have done at the time you were a kid.
    Its actually a simple theory, if you have to deal with a mentally disturbed person,you have to act like one, you are not supposed to be normal,
    so with the kids, act like a kid when you are with a kid, do not make them stay at kindergartens and baby care centers, Rather hand them over to their grand parents where they can have the opportunity to know and explore more from their experience, which would be really help full for kids, at their kindergarten level have them involve in different activities with a right and planned schedule and make yourself involve with them and observe where they are being so keen at, plan their schedule in versatile manner, but not a same planned schedule every day,do not teach them morality , rather make them understand with skits and stories, do not ask them what they want to do when they grow up, rather explain every thing about what are the different fields and how life can be with some particular field, do not give them any choices, just put entire information off course in the way-- the kids language that could be understandable to kids, and let THEM choose, let THEM dream about what they wanted to be when they grow up, for that you create resources accordingly, encourage accordingly and plan accordingly
    May your kids have wonderful future and come up with flying colors-----------
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    Jul 8 2013: I only have a daughter, of whom I’m very proud. When she was growing up I waited for her to ask the questions and always tried to stick to reality for answers. At five she asked about Santa Claus, I explained that it was her mother and myself that supplied the Christmas gifts, but that Santa was based on a true the story of a Bishop from Turkey that gave gifts from house to house around the Christmas holidays. At eleven when she asked about the facts of life, I kept right to Gray’s Anatomy for the answers but also explained that any children that came out of such an encounters, would be her responsibility to feed, cloth and shelter for the next eighteen years. Then, with the help of my daughter, we played a game on my wife. I knew she was squeamish about explaining sex to her pre-teen daughter, so, every day for a month my daughter would ask her mother about the facts of life and every day my wife would come to me asking advise. It was a good father /daughter bonding experience.

    Also, when she was very young, I tried my best to keep control of the TV channels that she watched. I would never let her see how the channel was changed. She only watched educational TV. When she wanted to know what TV shows were next up; I would hand her the TV Guide and explain how to decipher the text. Of course, she couldn’t read the Guide. I gave her all the help she needed and by the time, she entered kindergarten, she was reading the TV Guide.

    Today, she has earned her Masters degree in Science and teaches high school Science.
  • Jul 8 2013: I don't remember anyone asking me what I would be when I grew up.

    I do remember playing school alot, and telling everybody I would be a teacher without being asked.
    And that is what I am, a teacher.

    With my kids, I don't ask them what they want to be.

    When I see them doing something creative in nature and I see an inclination, I discreetly mention that there are adults who use that talent in their work and make money doing it.

    I have no idea what my kids will be when they grow up......I'm hoping they will be happy.
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    Jul 8 2013: My sister and I were raised by my grandmother, a smart and crafty lady. When she spoke to us she got down to face level. I do this also when I speak to a child. It reduces intimidating giant figure. My grandmother taught how to sew, craft with thread and yarn, crochet, make a bow and arrow, how to keep ants out of the house by feeding them honey near their hive, and how to treat bug bites with the Indian fire plant (Aloe Vera).

    This is how I started with my son and my grandchildren I have puzzles lying around the house and they play with them. We have plenty of picture books with animals and lots of drawing paper and colored pencils. I started my grandson in the wood shop when he was three. He's five now and can handle a hand drill and band saw as good as any man. He can shape wood, drill holes, read a ruler, draw a right angle and many other wood shop activities.

    I was looking around at some wood working videos on you-tube about carving wood with a wood lathe. In India and other countries, it is not uncommon to find children as young as three making works of art in wood and other materials. I think we wait too long in western societies to allow our children to sample the adult world.

    I think the whole idea of a cartoon youth is a waste of intelligence. Children want to be like adults, not like Micky Mouse or Goofy. They want to do the same things their parents do.

    My son, by the age of twelve had his own company, washing and cleaning RV's in a local RV park. He could remove and repair a starter motor on an automobile. There is no job children can't do if you will be patient and help them through the rough spots where strength is important. These are great areas to teach them about pulleys and levers. Nothing like seeing the joy in a kids eye when they move something three times their weight. This is how I sound to my kids:
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    Jul 7 2013: Could a better question be, "what do you like to do?"
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    Jul 4 2013: By making a conscious decision be one of them. It's a great excuse to be a kid again. Get in the sandbox with them, build stuff, destroy stuff, have a good laugh, let the imagination go where it will, and let the clues about the future happen 'organically' when they want to, without any adult prompting.

    Usually there will be enough clues about what their passions might be, and who they are, by observing what they do with our own adult eyes whilst still playing as a child would.
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    Jul 4 2013: Lizanne, I can't tell you how important this question is to me (primarily because I've done this as recent as yesterday). Its terrible that we're so fixated on molding kids into their careers while they are still so young. Sir Ken Robinson once said "Not everyone needs to go to college, and not everyone needs to go right now"

    The best way to combat this is to get back to why we ask the question in the first place, and for me its because I'm excited to what they could be capable of; I'm excited about their future, I'm excited about their potential.

    I have lots of conversations with young people and the best thing to ask them is "what do you like to do?" or "what are you excited about?" Talk to them the same way you would talk to anyone else, with the same candor and the same respect and the same sincerity. Allow them to connect with their present self so they can find who they want to be whenever they are ready.
    • Jul 6 2013: Couldn't agree more, Ricardo. There are so many other, more stimulating and inspiring ways to encourage kids to talk about what they love, instead of pinning them down with a question like that!
      Allowing kids freedom to express, however they want or need to, is key! Mary's link above is the answers to the question I posed, by a kid even!
      And look what happens to kids who do get the freedom to express, they turn into little rockets of enthusiasm!
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    Jul 4 2013: We just need to look in their eyes and see their actions , so we know what they want to say or what they need.
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    Gord G

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    Jul 4 2013: Simply listen...and all will be revealed. ;-)
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      Jul 4 2013: SO true!! As adults, we do far too much talking and far too little listening.
  • Jul 3 2013: Listen - all to often we make comments or questions or ignore what the child says. Listen and respond or ask a question. I always say i do not understand and ask for more information.
  • Jul 2 2013: Depends how old you are and your position in relation to the child.

    If you are authority and older, then you shouldn't talk to them just like a friend. You should speak to them as an elder such as you are. If you are closer to their age, then speak to them as a friend.

    Ultimately, take an interest in what they have to say. It doesn't matter if you are younger or older, in a position of authority or just a senior to them, if you don't actually listen to what they have to say or take an interest in them, nothing will matter. You have to build the relationship first then be honest in your question asking and response to their answers. If you don't have that relationship, then nothing you ask them will matter at all.
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    Jul 2 2013: Lizanne, how should we talk to kids?

    In a way that allows them to become loving and kind, so that when we grow old, the government will not have to pass legislation forcing them to love us and visit us.

    Did you read this bit of news?

    I am going to start a conversation on this, what do you think?
    • Jul 2 2013: Wow, this is shocking to me, and I can't for the life of me imagine how it could be enforced...
      Not to mention the impracticality of such a law, like the article suggests, for children who have moved away from their parents for work...
      I'd love to talk more about this - please start a conversation about it, Mary!

      Edit: started writing a reply to another comment...!
      • Jul 4 2013: The original report that I heard a couple of weeks ago was that there would be fines or possibly jail time.
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    Jul 2 2013: Simply by making them friends.... If you feel uncomfortable to talk to kids about some topics, let them feel your friendly nature and everything will be sort out automatically... love and affection have great power.... if you know how you can show them ,then you won't face any problem in talking to children.
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    Jun 30 2013: One on the ideas that I got from the research of Alison Gopnik is that when we tell a young child the answer to their question they stop investigating.
    For example, when a child asks, "How does this work?" we might respond to the child, "I don't know, let's see?" instead of, "It works like this."
    I think this relates to Ken Robinson's point about divergent thinking. see min: 7:40
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      Jul 1 2013: Inquiry-based pedagogies are based in part on this idea.
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        Jul 1 2013: I hadn't heard the term before and upon looking it up, (inquiry based learning) I was surprised by some of the criticism. This topic seems ripe for more research.
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          Jul 1 2013: The art of teaching in this format is knowing when, how, and how much to guide.
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          Jul 1 2013: Alot of us use inquiry base learning in science....although many times there are teachable moments throughout the school day that lend themselves to this approach.

          With a classroom full of kids, it is difficult to use this approach for all subjects.

          Some unschooling parents feel this is the way to go in educating their children.

          Like Fritzie says, it is an art.
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          Jul 1 2013: I might also add that many parents in the US strongly, strongly favor traditional "direct instruction" over discovery-centered pedagogy. That is, many parents strongly favor teaching by telling over teaching by asking.
        • Jul 1 2013: Interesting.
          As a product of Montessori education, I remember a lot of discovery-centered pedagogy, although I am not familiar with the term either. That kind of education is based on discovery, and creating a successful situation for children to find answers themselves. There is really no space to fail, whatever is discovered, is valid!

          Has anyone seen last year's TED Prize winner, Sugata Mitra's vision, SOLE (Self-Organized Learning Environments), which is based on encouraging self-discovery:

  • Jun 30 2013: Just stumbled across this video, illustrating an extremely important aspect of communicating with children in a way that they will truly listen.

    We did this experiment in my class too, segregating the class by hair-color... Powerful.
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      Jul 1 2013: What a powerful powerful video.....I remember watching it a long time ago.

      Teachers, and adults in general, wield alot of power, and our words can do alot of good, or they can wreak havoc in a young ones life.

      As I read through your conversation, and reflect on all the children I have taught, it is sad to remember little ones who were treated as lesser ones by adults in their life.

      Our words should have this effect on the little ones in our life:
      • Jul 1 2013: Oh, Mary, that picture gives me the chills!!

        I see parenting methods on a daily basis which make me cringe, and break my heart, knowing the child involved is receiving a very damaging message.

        Recently, my daughter went for her swimming diploma (mandatory in Holland), and one of the tests they had to complete was to swim through a hole that was placed about 3 meters underwater. One little girl simply could not go through the hole. Her eyes were sensitive to the chlorine, so she kept them shut underwater, so she couldn't see the hole! This was obvious to all of us, but for some reason, not to her parents. The little girl refused to swim through the hole, and had every right to do so - she was simply not ready.
        Her parents thought otherwise, however. In the dressing room, I overheard her parents call her 'stupid'. They told her she would be punished, they were furious with her, and made that clear both verbally and physically. My daughter didn't understand their reaction either. I told her, when she saw that little girl the next day at school, that she might need a big hug.
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          Jul 1 2013: Lizanne, some parents are more worried about others might think of them and their child, than what they should think of their child.

          Shame....they feel shame, because their child is not like the rest.

          Look, a gentleman from Germany just posted a conversation on how do we apply dog training techniques to children.

          At first, I thought, he must be joking.
          But, after I watched the 14 minute TED talk he links us to, I realized he had every right to ask the question.

          Please, when you get the chance, watch the talk.
          You will see a point in the talk where the presenter talks about a parent who acts the same as the ones you mention......but instead of being by a pool, the setting is inside a plane.

          Tell me what you think.

          Here is a link to the conversation, and the TED talk:

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    Jun 28 2013: Thanks Mary. For the comment and for taking your husband to work at 5:30 a.m. Although it was probably a pain, trust me when I say it matters. And while I know that this conversation is about talking to your kids, (Lizanne you are wonderful), sometimes what they see is as important as what they hear.
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    Jun 28 2013: I wanted to give one more comment from my husband's point of view. He just called me from work and we chatted for a moment and I asked him "What do you think the most important impact was that you had on Matt? He's not much of a big talker, but he had a good answer... he said "I got my ass out of bed and went to work every day". He said "I knew that no matter what Matt chose to do, so long as he had a good work ethic, he would be ok." Simple but clear. That old cheesy saying "children learn what they live" is so true. If they see dad drink till 2 am and then call out sick, they will learn that behavior and will never have respect for themselves no matter what they chose to do for a living. He also sat in the stands right next to me during all of the hockey games. GO MATT!!!!
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      Jun 28 2013: Amy, thank you for this.

      Last week we had to drive my husband to work at 5:30 in the morning because one of ours cars was being serviced. The kids got to see firsthand the sacrifice their dad makes on a daily basis for them.
      After we dropped dad off, the kids went back to sleep.

      At 11:00 am my son looks at the clock and exclaims "hey, dad's been working for six hours already!!"
      He had just finished eating his breakfast, and realized how easy he has it as a kid.

      Our appreciation the family head increased 10-fold that morning.
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    Jun 28 2013: Hi Lizanne: Just caught this conversation by chance and it is so important. I only have one child, so my experience may have been very different if I had to spread my attention thinner. However, for my child, I was under the belief that my job was to be not only his provider, protector and teacher, but his number one cheerleader! When my son showed an interest in art, I signed him up for art lessons. Then he took an interest in music, and he was enrolled on guitar lessons. Later, as a teen he got into sports, and I was in the stands, freezing cold, cheering him on at every ice hockey practice session and game. What ever he decided to do, I said Yea!!!!! Lets's do that. Today, he is a doctor of Audiology as well as a PhD with the University of Wisconsin in the field of hearing. I don't know if that is related to the music lessons or not, and frankly it doesn't matter. What matters is that HE chose what he wanted to do, and I backed him up every time, all the way. (he still plays his guitar and plays hockey with his buddies on the weekends) We have a beautiful relationship today, and with each article he publishes, or research project he completes, (now at the age of 30), I still cheer him on and tell him how very proud I am. The message here is it didn't matter what he "became", what he always was and always will be is is my son.
    • Jun 30 2013: Amy, I cheer YOU!
      My Mom, who is sitting across from me at the table as I write this, is a strong believer of 'planting seeds' of interest. Who knows how those seeds will grow and branch out? I'm sure, everything we are as kids, is who we are as adults - every 'seed' will germinate in one way or another (when given the chance!) and combine, resulting in the unique personalities we all are!
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        Jun 30 2013: Lizanne: Seeds! Perfect word. I wonder, how is a child supposed to know what he wants to "do" when he grows up, if he doesn't know the options. The more we are exposed to, the more choices we have to choose from. This is not only true for careers, but with things such as food and clothing. At least twice a week I would ask my son, "What are you in the mood for for dinner". and I would take him shopping to pick the clothing that he wanted to wear, not just show up with a bag. As adults, we need to make choices everyday, and the sooner we learn to do that, the better. By the way, there were also karate lessons when he was four years old because he decided he wanted to be a teenage ninja mutant turtle. I'm glad he went with doctor instead!!!
        • Jun 30 2013: I have a feeling that allowing kids to choose for themselves is a relatively unorthodox method. My mother-in-law, who I adore, was an educator for 40 years, and just recently turned 70. She believes our children should have no say in the matter, and that all the decisions should be made by me, on some ocassions with the involvement of their father, period.
          I so do not feel this way, and agree with everything you're saying, Amy! Hiw CAN kids make deicions about their own lives, when they have never had the chance to make decisions??
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    Jun 27 2013: Hi, Lizanne.
    I must admit that I have only worked with teenagers and grownups in groups, I have worked with younger people as well, but only individually and when I did that, I was a kid, or sort of a kid, myself. I gave lessons to younger kids as a teen, I started when I was quite young, the local community made all this possible and demanded it. I have my personal observations when it comes to this, but I prefer to blend those with the experiences of my mom who was actually a local guru when it comes to pre-school education. When I was a teen I knew parents who would send their kids to me to teach them language, my mother worked with that as well, but with younger children.

    Here are some very general thoughts. General, but based on a lot of observation and experience (academic and practical)

    - observe and spend a lot of time with them. Know them. Get to know them.
    - never label or categorise them
    - if you label them at a young age, be prepared to bear the fruits
    - don't forget NLP, inspiration
    - challenge them and surprise them, give them inspiration at all levels, of all categories
    - give them access to knowledge, operative skills, don't forget the following:

    - nobody, parent or anybody, owns a child's psyche, identity or ability. A parent can teach a kid about the world EDIT - and should - but it can be difficult for a parent to teach the child about who the child really is.

    I've heard a following quote once - give us a child during the first 5 years and you will have a person. I will not say where the quote is from (it's no shame or any form of secret, nothing personal here, I'm inspiring curiosity ;-)). The question remains - is this person happy or using his/her potential? On the other hand - no child is a desert island and we live in a global village. And that's a reply to the last point - nobody owns a child's psyche/identity etc.

    Best wishes.
    • Jun 27 2013: Hi Anna!
      These are all wonderful tips, reminding me also of Rita Pierson's talk, "Every Kid Needs a Champion":
      As a parent, an educator, a neighbor, a family member, a sibling, an anything, building a good relationship with each other is based on all the things you list. Thank you!
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        Jun 27 2013: I wouldn't see my comment as tips, but that's just lingustics ;)

        I have seen the talk, I'll see it again while remembering others. Best wishes and thank you too.
        I'm not a mom, by the way, just a person :)
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          Jun 27 2013: Hi Anna, I really enjoyed your contribution.

          You inspired my curiosity:

          Could your quote above be taken from the Jesuit motto "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man" from a quote by Francis Xavier? Or is it from some other source?

          I had not heard it before.

          But, I remember professors telling us in college that the first 7 years of a child's life are the formative years, and that they are very important.
        • Jun 28 2013: Anna, I think when I read your comment, I had parents in mind with 'other priorities', as Tify and I were talking about in the thread below. In that sense, I would regard your points as tips. :)

          I had to giggle at what you said, "I'm not a mom, by the way, just a person :)"
          I'm a Mom, but I'm definitely a person too... I think!! :D
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        Jun 28 2013: @Mary

        That is correct! :) But mark that I said person, trying to develop this point and quote and liberate it from the religious implications. In my personal opinion, and from experience, the formative years are extremely important, but understanding and experience can make you aware of that and consequently, aware of what formed you.
        Example - my sister and I were "formed" by the same environment, but got interested in different topics and different fields of exploration. That formed the personalities. One can also argue that we were impervious to influences from the outside thanks to the formative years. A lot of hypotheses can be formed around this but whatever they are, here are two points:

        - I absolutely agree. The formative years are very, very important
        - their influence can be changed or reversed with self-insight and understanding not only of the self, but also of the formative environment
        - the difference between "... and I will give you a man" and "...and I will give you a person", although not crucial, is of some importance on a social scale

        Hmm. I guess those were two more hypotheses :)
        Best wishes.
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          Jun 28 2013: I think that many times the word "man" is used to signify mankind, and not necessarily a literal man...........I think of Rudyard Kiplings poem "IF" an example.

          Perhaps a long time ago......because women were treated as lesser individuals, or perhaps beacause it was understood that man meant mankind, both men and women, the word man was used.

          Look at our own Constitution:

          "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all MEN are created equal".

          Does this mean that the constitution only applies to men, and not women?

          Any more reflections Anna? What do you think of these ideas of mine?
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        Jun 28 2013: I had to giggle at what you said, "I'm not a mom, by the way, just a person :)"
        I'm a Mom, but I'm definitely a person too... I think!! :D"

        :) We're all persons. What I was actually trying to say in a bit humoristic way was that although I don't have children of my own I can still be of help thanks to the experiences and all that I've learnt from my parents, at my previous jobs, studies and so on.

        Best wishes.
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        Jun 28 2013: @Mary:

        Here's one perspective:

        Your comment made me think of the recent "America's Next Top Model - British Invasion" + the footage from Hong Kong. Have you seen it? It's really interesting. Also - have a look at what Barbie Dolls in some countries look like, that really provides some insight.

        Back to the subject, maybe. How to talk to kids. An alternative question - how not to talk to kids. How to communicate with kids?

        Kids are people, kids are persons.

        Here's a talk, one of many, on the subject:

        "Remi has never told a lie." - I'm not autistic, I guess, and I do not tell lies but after watching this - I wish all of us were autistic, or at least a bit nerdy and curious. And respecting people who aren't.

        Best wishes.
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          Jun 28 2013: Manal Al Sharif's talk is wonderful. The women I have mentioned this issue to can hardly believe their ears.

          Reader's Digest did a spread on her in the July issue. I hope that helps her effort.
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        Jun 28 2013: Howdy Kate!

        When I was searching for the quote Anna shared with us the 7-up series came up.
        I will have to check it out Kate.

        Thanks for your insight.

        What do you think about using person and not man in the quote?
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        Jun 28 2013: I just went on the link......all the episodes are Kate....thank you so much!!
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        Jun 28 2013: Yes Kate, I was thinking the same is rare to find such long terrm and well documented studies of least studies that are filmed and given to the public to watch.

        I am looking forward to watching them.

        We have a woman postal person deliver our mail.
        We still say the mailman.........old habits are hard to give up.

        Kate, when you observe parents interacting with children, do you see improved communication, or do you see a breakdown of it?

        What are your observations?
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        Jun 28 2013: Thanks for your honest reply Kate.

        Here we are all on summer vacation......the heat is unbearable.....well, mostly the humidity, after all I am in Florida.

        We've been getting quite a bit of rain lately....which is nice for the plants.
        The kids enjoy staying in on rainy us a chance to talk and play games.

        Overall I'm doing ok.......but I wouldn't mind a week away from home somewhere on the beach just about now. How about you Kate? How's it going?

        [edited...did you ever read my comment and visit the link to Tarpon Springs Florida? We commented back and forth on that conversation in two different spots, so I don't know if you overlooked it]
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        Jun 29 2013: Kate.....after going nearly blind from scrolling down all my 2.000+ comments......phew......I remembered where I had given you the link to Tarpon Springs....

        It's at the bottom of the last conversation I hosted on "Bibles in high schools"

        I shared with you that here in Florida, we have a Greek community....

        Here, read the comment and see the link I gave you with pictures.
        Scroll down, because it is towards the bottom.

        As for the beach, we are about 1/2 hour away, depends on traffic.
        But there's nothing like staying on the beach.

        Our weather is always rainy in the summer.........with lots and lots of lightning........scary!!!
        It's so amazing that you are having winter.....I hope you find a flat soon.
        It's not fun to be in flood zones's a bit scary when you are older and you have to think of your well being and peace of mind.

        Enjoy the weekend!!!
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        Jun 30 2013: Nah....we don't need to delete.....we can use it to show the kids how to chase rabbits and have wonderful conversations that meander through all sorts of topics.

        Let's view this interchange as a teachable moment for future generations.

        Glad you enjoyed the link Kate.
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        Jun 30 2013: That is fantastic!!!
        So glad to hear that!!
  • Jun 27 2013: Given my comments and Mary's and Lizanne's further below.

    After re-reading them it makes me think, if adults talk to kids this way, and lets be honest here, a lot of parents don't even interact with their children, viz what their kids dreams of, nor play with them, nor show interest in what they did at school. Also deliberately use the tv as a pseudo educator, morality provider, and general baby sitter, rather than put in the effort themselves.

    You got to wonder, and ask, is for a lot of children the company of like minds for instance in a boarding school - a better place for them to be?
    • Jun 27 2013: Interesting point, Tify.
      These days, there are lots of two-income households, often because that is simply the only way to even afford one. So the kids find themselves in daycare before, and after school, and are lucky to see their parents at dinnertime and weekends. It is extremely hard for these families to find time to just be together, bond, and communicate.

      Then, there are those who are just not interested, like you describe, who have 'other priorities'. It's hard to imagine, but these types of parents are around too.

      But regardless of why, sadly, there are kids who are neglected, who don't get the chance to talk about their dreams, play pretend or just BE a kid.

      I have no experience with boarding schools, so when I think of them, I imagine a cliche image of strict, lonely classrooms and high academic standards. Do you know more about them, Tify? If they provide more space for a child to develop, and feel the support (and even love) they lack at home, then I would be all for it!
      • Jun 28 2013: From you're first paragraph - I think you've said something I've always believed, and where people don't want to really ask themselves a real fundamental question - if that's ones life - why have children? What's the point, its not like your doing the child any favours.

        And they (boarding schools) are Lizzane nowadays more like the latter, support, friendship, as well as high academic standards, etc. as you can find full board (stay all the time, except holidays) day boarders (go home at night) 1/2 board (go home on weekends)

        But actually I think my idea above is the biggest irony of all.

        As those that have both the time and money do send their children off - who really don't need to.
        Those like you mention Lizanne, who maybe can afford to, even if it did benefit the child. Don't. I suppose a second car, a remodeling of the kitchen, multiple holidays are so much higher in the priority list.
        Those that just cant afford - obviously cant.

        It's such a shame, and I really mean that with the deepest concern for the child and their future, lose out all ways round.

        But read the new post - above for a ray of hope.
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    Jun 26 2013: Find the strengths that the child has and offer praise, encouragement and positive reinforcement - fate will direct them on the right path :-)
  • Jun 26 2013: For adults, children fall into the most criminal of subcultures, the "not-us". However, the presumption is that they shall become "us", given time. Thus, we push them to cease being "not-us" and becoming "us", and part of that is that "us" is primarily defined by how "us" makes money.
    • Jun 27 2013: Well said, Bryan.
      And indeed, the paradox is that kids are us. We are kids. The system now seems to revolve around fitting kids into the molds that will turn them into us, when in fact, they already are...!
      • Jun 27 2013: "The system" (there is no system, because systems are designed and managed) is no different "now" than it ever was, except, perhaps from roughly 1950, onwards. Before this time childhood was always seen as merely a prelude to adulthood. The construction of "childhood" that Americans believe to be the "way it used to be" did not exist until after World War II. This is also true of the American construction of Christmas, the American construction of "family", and the American construction of nearly everything else.

        America began after the end of the Second World War. Everything else was merely prelude.
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    Jun 26 2013: Hi Liz!

    I think this TED talk by Stefan Sagmeister could be useful. With some modification, it could be applied to kids.
  • Jun 25 2013: It a terrible question that is asked of children, in someways it's a complete snub of who they are at that age. Allowing parents, teachers to regain some air of superiority. And if you need to do that, a) you shouldn't be a parent b) nor a teacher.

    I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, and I doubt I ever will do. Maybe that's because I like to believe there are always possibilities, and from some adults I've seen who've grow up - I can assure you it ain't all its cracked up to be.

    Maybe if we dont constrain children in that way, by asking inane questions, and persisting in them deciding, generally for our benefit nor theirs, who knows what they then may be capable of across a whole lifetime.

    Ironically I can see that idea being most important in this and the centuries to come, after all, the concept of a job/career for life, is so... last century.
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      Jun 25 2013: So let me get this straight.
      You don't want to be an engineer and work for Shell?

      Just kidding Tify......I like what you wrote.
      I personally dislike when adults bombard my kids with the question of 'what do you want to be when you grow up".

      If they would just converse with my children and take personal interest in them........but, not everybody sees things the same way.

      At least some adults make an effort to have some sort of communication with the little ones. :)
      • Jun 26 2013: I did want to be an engineer and work for Shell... then I lay down until the feeling past :)

        But seriously, look at the question, what do you want to be when you grow up. Then ask your self if all the time people asked you...What do you want to be when you retire?

        It would send a signal that what you are and what your doing, really has no value, and it's just a phase.

        The reality is the whole of life is just different phases, none no better or worse than the other. Just different. And like so many other things, we really should try to relish and celebrate those differences and enjoy that moment.

        Regarding the last part of my above comment, how many people now "go back to school" in later years, again it's something to be encouraged. As it the makes the person better, just as talking to kids, without pressuring them, and letting them when the time is right decide what they want to be.

        Maybe it's just me, but I think the role should be to encourage kids (and adults too) by giving as many possibilities of opportunity.
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          Jun 26 2013: I wholeheartedly agree with your viewpoint.

          And no, it's not just you.
          Many of us parents feel that it is healthy to encourage our kids and give them many possibilities of's a good thing.
    • Jun 27 2013: Wonderfully said, as always, Tify. Like Mary, I'm on board!

      It seems to me, that what we are going to be, is what we ARE. I am a bunch of things I was when I was a kid, and I am a bunch of things I never dreamed I'd be, and who knows what's in store for me down the road?
      The possibilities truly are endless - kids get that. Why do some adults forget that?
      • Jun 27 2013: Why do some adults forget that?... I could answer that question I think, but I dont want to deviate too far from the kids pov. less we get distracted.
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    Jun 25 2013: Hello Liazanne
    you have really been blessed to have very understanding parents. The topic of discussion is kids. What I wanted to convey is that some parents create problems for themselves at times, the kid is not be blamed.

    Say an eight year declares : 'Mom I want to be Doctor" Now from day one the parents go hammer and tong to make their kids dream come true. They announce proudly to their family and friends and, and the fun starts when the child now 15 says he/she wants to be dancer :))

    So patents should be more concerned with the overall happiness of their kid. They should act as mentors and friends. Now days their our many Professionals in the field, who based on scientific facts can understand the aptitude of the child.

    I want to be a team leader, but my fact sheet says I am a good follower, so here the parents play an active role. They are the best guide, and the facts are there, the kid has grown up and now can take a decision.
    • Jun 26 2013: This is incredibly important, Asgar.
      When I heard on the news about the recent peak in suicides in India due to failing grades, I was horrified that many of these kids actually took their own lives because they felt they couldn't live up to their family's expectations as far as succeeding in the right' career.
      Why was there so much pressure on them to succeed in a high-paying job? The desire for money. And what was this desire for money based on? The achievement of the kind of life 'as seen on TV'. The media plays the biggest role in warping our minds, convincing us that the life we have simply isn't good enough. In my opinion, it is a destructive thing to their children in a such a position, or to live vicariously through them. My priority is, like yours, "the overall happiness of their kid".
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    Jun 25 2013: Talk to them as you would a friend you care about. Allow them to be, all they can be, but ask them to respect you, for all that you can be. Be mutually beneficial, make deals that you both agree to. Let them think and be heard, seen and acknowledged. Let them know when they have screwed up and why. Be there, when they need guidance. Be there, when you feel a hurt heart. Let them know everything is going to be alright, despite what it looks like, that nothing is as it seems, that is why you taught them that, as one of the Four Agreements when they were very young. Sometimes this is the only way someone can survive in this world... is if they know this.
    • Jun 26 2013: This is exactly how I feel, Crystal.
      It's about taking one another seriously, showing respect, regardless of age.
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        Jun 26 2013: Thanks Lizanne, we, have a lot of work to do on this one... however, if we can each by example practice mutual respect in as many relationships as we have, our children may decide we are worthy of saving after all..... We are in such interesting times, as all the garbage on the planet comes to surface, both materially as well as emotionally. Hoping young tender hearts, can be strong enough to weather the pain and make sense of it all. Many natural disasters bringing compassion and good in the wake of tragedy. We can only draw from this basic human condition and apply as opportunities allow. BlesSings to you! C*
        • Jun 27 2013: Your comment, Crystal, brought a strong visual to mind, namely the Landfill Harmonic.
          I've mentioned it before in other conversations, but find it so appropriate to what you said: "all the garbage on the planet comes to surface, both materially as well as emotionally. Hoping young tender hearts, can be strong enough to weather the pain and make sense of it all."
          These kids did:

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    Jun 24 2013: I don't remember anyone asking me what I would be when I grew up.

    I do remember playing school alot, and telling everybody I would be a teacher without being asked.
    And that is what I am, a teacher.

    With my kids, I don't ask them what they want to be.

    When I see them doing something creative in nature and I see an inclination, I discreetly mention that there are adults who use that talent in their work and make money doing it.

    I have no idea what my kids will be when they grow up......I'm hoping they will be happy.
    • Jun 24 2013: I love that you knew that, Mary. I truly believe we are what we always are. I was all the things I am now, and more! Who knows what I'll be tomorrow...?!

      I hope the same thing as you, that my kids will be happy!
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    Jun 24 2013: Hello Lizanne:>)
    I like talking to kids with a genuine interest to learn about them, and I find that with most kids, we don't have to ask a lot of questions! If a child perceives our interest in listening, they will go on....and on......

    Regarding the question....what do you want to be when you grow up...
    I a kid.....when I was involved with dance lessons, I wanted to be a dancer....when I was ice skating, I wanted to be a professional ice skater....when singing, I thought I would be a professional singer...when playing the piano, I was definitely going to be a musician....when I was playing cowboys and Indians, I wanted to be just like Annie get the picture? I grew up being totally engaged in what I was doing at any given time, with many different interests and careers.

    Sometimes kids are very clear with their interests, and sometimes they are exploring, and I think it's really important to listen to their story.....whatever that may be at any time. Adults and kids are not very different in that respect:>)
    • Jun 24 2013: That is SO true, Colleen. Give a kid a platform, and wow, can they give a presentation! I thoroughly enjoy listening to a child, they take us on adventures we've forgotten how to have, help US stretch OUR imaginations, get us in touch with our inner children. When my son describes how his magic wand (three toilet paper tubes stuck together with duct tape) can change me into anything he wants at the flick of a wrist, I am all ears. And when he turns me into a cat, my goodness, I AM a cat.

      I was so the same way, Colleen. And I still am. In the article I posted above, the writer compares this question to the one adults ask each other, as a way to get to know each other: 'What do you do'? I always laugh when people ask me this, because my usual answer is 'I breathe, don't you?' !!

      Couldn't agree more, that listening is not only essential, but incredibly enlightening and enjoyable. I feel the same way about dreams, good ones or bad ones. If my daughter wakes up form a nightmare, I ask her if she can tell me about it. If she can, the LAST thing I would say is, 'Oh, honey, monsters don't exist, go back to sleep!' I listen, and take her seriously, and never dismiss a child's genuine emotions.
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        Jun 24 2013: Lizanne,
        The image of three toilet paper tubes and duct tape becoming a magic wand is SO precious!

        My often used response to "what do you do""as little as possible". LOL!
        People are often trying to "do" as much as possible, and forget to simply "be" children:>)

        I wholeheartedly agree with encouraging kids to talk about monsters and other "imaginary friends" because it stimulates their imagination:>)
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    Jun 24 2013: If we want to ask anything to a child then we must have to think like a child then only he/she will give a proper reply of our question.
    it means that we have erase our gap between a child and an adult person ..... if we do like this then it will make ourselves easy to interact with a child ..... hope you got my view
    • Jun 24 2013: Kashaf, I am reading you loud and clear, and agree 100%.
      Stepping out of the 'grown up' world and stepping into a child's world is not as difficult as it seems - we all should be able to, we have all been kids before, right? ;)
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      Jun 24 2013: I LOVE that Kashaf..."erase our gap between a child and an adult person"......PERFECTLY UNDERSTOOD!

      Not only is it not difficult's a LOT of fun.....very enjoyable:>)
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    • Jul 22 2013: RE: A goal gives one a direction, but it is often just a way to take the first step. If my eye is fixed only on the goal, I might miss a shortcut, or even a totally different goal that serves me better.

      Or on the other hand the distractions may make you not achieve the goal. And so?

      Or on the other hand if your not attached to the out come maybe you wont try as hard or not bother, because you not investing in the outcome. And so?

      Isn't self-actualization a goal? Or are you supposed to be not bothered/attached if you don't get there. If so, what's the point of doing it it the first place?

      The whole paragraph, sounds a bit "chicken soup."
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        Jul 23 2013: I think it's important to go further with goals--once you have one--to be clear about what it is, think about action you will commit to taking toward reaching it, and also to imagine what kind of evidence you'll be able to collect to show that you've learned or made progress toward the goal.
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          Jul 23 2013: Yes Marjorie....well-said.
      • Jul 23 2013: I posted this in the "comment" rather than reply. Just getting the hang of this site. :)
        1 day ago: Self actualization is a way of being, so yes, I would call it an ongoing goal. It is not my intention to diminish the value of having a goal, or achieving a goal, but rather to be aware that if it ends up differently than I anticipated, I can learn from that and create a new goal. I must assume that any goal I choose is something I actually want to do, so I do not understand "trying hard" -- the process of achieving the goal is as important to me as the goal itself and not particularly "trying" -- but that's probably semantics.
  • Jul 22 2013: How can you find your identity ? if you can't found it by career.
    By asking kids this kind of question you help him to drawing their vision and hopes...where do you see your self? What are your dreams?
    • Jul 23 2013: Hi Adham,
      I have to say, my dreams are the same as the ones I had when I was a kid. I see myself as the same kid who sat for hours on end in her room, alone, singing into a little Fisher Price tape recorder. I do pretty much the same thing today!
  • Jul 21 2013: Let's throw a cat amongst the pigeons....

    What ever happened to "Children should be seen and not heard".
    • Jul 22 2013: Nothing happened to it that I know of. I do not believe it was a very good idea, however, since children are capable of seeing the world anew, and we should pay attention to them. If you are really asking "what happened to children respecting their elders," since it often came with a penalty for not doing so, many elders lost their right to be respected. We ended up with a culture of form in lieu of substance, largely based on "do as I say and not as I do," "What will people think," and an education system that taught kids what to think instead of how to think.
      • Jul 22 2013: Thank you for that American perspective.
        • Jul 22 2013: I find it interesting, Tify, that you find this an American perspective, since I recognize it immediately, but I live in Europe. Perhaps it's a typical Western culture mentality?

          As far as that 'children should be seen and not heard', which sends chills down my spine in disgust, I see it happening on a daily basis, sadly enough. Yesterday, I went to a park with my kids. A park, where there were things to jump off, climb on, swing on, you name it. I actually heard a mother tell her child not to laugh so loudly. And this is by far not an uncommon thing where I live, unfortunately. My daughter came home one day and told me a boy in her class had a problem: his mother wouldn't let him get his pants dirty at school. She said, 'That' sad, because it means he can't play. I can get MY pants dirty, can't I, Mama!' To which I answered, 'Honey, that's what washing machines are for.'
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      Jul 22 2013: "In the original form of this proverb it was specifically young women who were expected to keep quiet. This opinion is recorded in the 15th century collections of homilies written by an Augustinian clergyma called [John] Mirk's Festial, circa 1450:"

      The internet now allows everyone to be heard and not seen.

      Go figure!!

      And, curiously enough, the first time I learned of this expression was when I did research in order to prepare a unit study on the first Pilgrims who came to America.
      Now there was a bunch of parents who could learn a thing or two from some of the moms on TED!

      Not only were the kids not allowed to speak unless spoken to, but they also had no place at the dinner table.
      They had to stand, and eat last. Only the adults sat.

      If you want to learn more, check out these two books:
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      Jul 22 2013: And look.......I did not know this existed..... old!!!!
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    Jul 13 2013: Child prodigy, "Nature or Nurture" Through rigorous, Physiological testing, the Classical violinist, Vanessa Mae explores how much her mother influenced her musical career. What she discovers at the end is eye opening.
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    Jul 10 2013: I'd do what my dad did, ask me what I'd like to do. He bought me books of all sorts on how to learn certain skills and enrolled me in programs that related to my interests.
    Just ask what they like or may be interested in.
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    Jul 8 2013: "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?"

    Start by keeping in mind what age you are talking to, not who the person is. Whether it is your child or any other child 5 is still 5. So talk to a 5 year old. Start by rethinking questions like this one. it is too much. If I am talking to a kid that young I want to know why they like the games they play and cartoons they watch. I want to hear what the kid says any if possible why. I'll help it along where I can but I want it to be the child's thoughts and I will be ready as the thoughts become ideas as the kid progresses. Encourage and push when needed but keep it constructive and never show disappointment to a child that is too young to understand why.

    The same will apply at different levels as they get older unless there is a need for things to be rushed. But for now if you are dealing with a 4 or 5 year old keep it simple and basic and watch how much you get.
  • Jul 8 2013: What I mean is not many teenagers who complete their secondary education have a clear idea on which job they would be interested in. Worse still there is a high dropout rate in first year university students and students who switch courses.

    Both my children went through university.

    All I can say is that I encouraged them to focus on English, Maths, Physics , Chemistry and Economics.

    The strategy was to have as may options as possible when they selected the degree they chose to specialize in.

    There is a point in time when your children will be mature enough to discuss future options . It is up to you to monitor your children's abilities and even look for professional guidance when the critical point arrives.

    Hope this helps.
  • Jul 8 2013: Monitor them and guide them, don't tell them they can't be someone, just explain how to do it. Obviously it's meant in a positive way when I say that. :)
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    Jul 7 2013: I think we can connect with a child by not treating him/her as a 'child'. At some level kids love to be treated as an equal when they speak with an adult. Obviously and naturally, i do not mean we speak in expressions way beyond their understanding, but simply we talk to them like we would address another adult, and not 'babies yet to grow up'.
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    Jul 7 2013: We have no alternative to offer to them to grow into and at the moment it doesn't look for this to change any soon. By this this questions remains at least honest if asked in the same intention.
  • Jul 5 2013: There is no harm in asking a kid what his/her dreams are - what he/she wants to become. If that kid happens to be your child, and is still not a teenager, the problem arises when you start seriously believing in what your kid says. You become more focused than your kid, and on the other hand your kid as he grows up, changes his mind from time to time, whereas you become frustrated.

    As parents of kids we have to just monitor and encourage, and when the time comes to take a decision, to guide or seek some professional advice.
  • Jul 4 2013: Truth, Love, Positive.
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    Jul 4 2013: To be able to talk to children we first need to become like a child. Or childlike.
    And that means relinquishing power and control over them.
    Not teaching them but learning together. Discovering.
    And for that to happen, we need to let go of the illusion that "we know" anything.
    The fact is that we do not know anything, we merely speculate.
    And speculation is elevated to the Rank of Belief.
    Beliefs over time becomes Truth.
    Letting go of these assumptions is the first step.
    And when we do that, we come upon innocence.
    Innocere means harmless. No division between the observer and observed. One experience. Timeless.
    The observer merges in the experience.
    Then and only then we can talk to children.

    All Experience is Impression
    an Image as Assumption,
    of scientific guessing
    and measuring
    and evaluating
    and grasping
    of more or less
    or totally different
    affirming, negating
    THAT which alone IS
    - three times denied
    three times disowned -;
    empty bubbles of soap
    of the Assuming Mind
    seeking to find
    from among its' kind
    something to whom to bind
    unable to unwind;
    the Spider threading the Webb
    of Conceptual Living
    Born of the World
    living in the World
    its' only Domain.

    Son of Conceptual Knowledge
    And all other conceptual garbage,
    as what the mind demands
    the body cares little for;
    and yet it is enslaved
    and its' duration halved;
    Narcissist by birth,
    psychopath in deed
    destined to destroy,
    disturb and annoy
    continuously deceiving
    every moment - thieving -
    thus self-conscious living;
    a tool installing itself
    as the only Master
    of the World-Mind
    fashioning dreams
    the trap of its' own making.

    with its' only aim
    - to seize and stake claim -
    and so climb to fame
    its' only intention
    the centre of attention
    trying - not succeeding
    to taste of the Living
    - and will not admit
    for it faces defeat -
    the shame of losing his seat;
    when winning is a must
    it says “In God we Trust”
    and sees within its’ death
    that “In God we have Faith”
    no explanation owing
    the wisdom of not-knowing;
    • Jul 6 2013: I so agree, Johnny.
      Helping a child develop means, to me, joining them on their journey, holding their hand if they need it, or letting it go.
      We are on vacation in Ireland, visiting family right now. My daughter climbed a cliff on her own. I applauded her from below. The next day, she stepped on a wasp and needed me. I held her, let her cry it out, understood her when she said she regretted that she didn't listen to me when I told het to put shoes on when she went outside...
      Feeling connected unconditionally with my children is, to me, an honor. Finding the balance between guiding them intimately, and allowing them to discover for themselves from a distance, is tricky (but I think I can only get better at it... )
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        Jul 6 2013: There is so much wisdom in your words, much wisdom..
  • Jul 4 2013: I like the book Little Big Minds by Marietta McCarty - it's about giving them big questions, and letting them dive in & wonder, and discussing it with them.
    I think it's about respect. Maybe there's nothing wrong with the question, 'what do you want to be,' is n't the only question that should be asked, and we should respect them enough to give them a thoughtful, helpful conversation.
    And I don't think it's a one-time question, it'll take time to develop a conglomerate width & depth of thought. And it'll probably take us time to learn how to actually listen.
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    Jul 3 2013: Exposure.
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    Jul 3 2013: Lizanna,

    It is extremely, extremely, ironic how I have just now clicked on your web page below to find something I just did earlier TODAY with my 7( soon to be 8) year old!!! I recently traveled out of area to continue in my career of study and while Skypeing with her I picked up a guitar (friend I'm staying with owns) strumming G,D, and C major. I'm trying to learn Spanish somewhat just to get by to be able to understand a casual conversation around here so I began singing the very few words that I have just learned to her. I made it specially comical for her enjoyment adding business in it like hearing it on the Spanish channel or radio station ("Vemos...[sudden pause] Coke-a-cola"). I need to learn more Spanish LOL.

    Also while watching the video I had an idea of putting a pitch to every letter that we type here. A-B-C-D-E-F-G is obvious but I don't know about the rest of the letters. Probability research for nice melodies?
    I've played bass guitar for 25 years and just picked up a trombone a year ago that I had to take along with me. I'm trying my best to teach myself how to sing through it. I play along to vocal melodies with it. I have my favorites (The specials-Rudy, Police-King of Pain, Pink Floyd-Comfortably Numb are just a few).
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    Jun 30 2013: Lizanne has some wonderful videos on her webpage.
    She makes some interesting points so give a please listen.

    Hi Lizanne, I hope you don't mind me posting this.
    As you can tell I do my homework.

    Best, Theodore
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    Jun 30 2013: Very Interesing and very important question , because it will make you recognize the kid's passion, Nice technique and thank you for sharing these informations.
  • Jun 30 2013: A meaningful answer to the question "what you want to be when you grow up" shows that you have long forgotten the free thinking mind of a child.

    If you listen more carefully to their answers, most children honestly answer something like "no idea" and "let's move on".

    Your question shows that this is not what you want to hear, but an honest response from a child is as good as it gets.

    Guiding children is as sophisticated an art form as the world has ever seen and parents are little but just jobbing painters with one extremely large brush.
    • Jun 30 2013: Hi Vincent,

      I am having a bit of trouble reading your comment, and really want to understand it better.

      By "A meaningful answer...", do you mean that the idea of expecting a meaningful from a child means that people have forgotten how a child thinks? Or, do you mean, it is impossible for a child to give a meaningful answer to this question, and will probably say he/she doesn't know?

      Are you suggesting that people who pose this particular question (what do you want do be), will not be satisfied with an honest response, but should be?

      By "parents are little...", do you mean parents don't listen well enough to their children? That they tend to sweep across their children's development too widely (hence the large brush)?
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    Jun 29 2013: Mary, Yes I do remember that commercial. Thanks for making me feel old!!!!!
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      Jun 30 2013: I was hoping youtube had the commercial in it's collection....but alas they don't.
      They do have the one for Charlie.....and Enjoli...... seems like a life time ago.....but I don't feel old.......(clears throat) ;)
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    Jun 27 2013: At first glance, we wonder why a community would build here. But we see, it was out of necessity. Thank you for bringing this to the light.

    I was very broke at one time and was recording a soundtrack for some friends who wished to bring about a movie about the magic and variety of mystics/creation.... It was called Mystical Journey. I had hooked up with a recording studio and committed to spending the necessary money and wrote the song, in support of the offerings that would come of it, with a few high profiled individuals in Spiritual Community, involved... I was doing this as my gift, because one of the ladies involved was a reader from my store (Spiritual Gift) and had spent many long days supporting it with her offerings and being (almost like a staff, doing business if I had to slip out for anything, so no overhead costs for me), she arrived each day as scheduled despite traffic in mainstream malls. Any way, on with the story...

    The guy who owned the studio, arranged for a Celloist to come and assist with the recording, I was still not overly comfortable with the stage and also, recording studio's you must be brutally accurate!!! So he wished to soften and support the process....

    It was beautiful experience and the Celloist and I went out in Kayaks in a storm, neither of us afraid of death. Powerful place to be, if we had any fear, I'm sure we would have died. We did not even think twice about mistakes or waves... however the next day, a wave caught me standing on the beach and totally, let me know its power. OK, I said, got it.

    The richest woman in Japan is in Garbage recycle. These people find treasures, but do not have the ability to see anything different than daily living. This is the irony of our planet. Those with the info, get very, very rich, those without, stay in poverty. Can we help.... in small ways. My solution is bringing small tangibl groups together wit a variety of people to rub shoulders with...of course, one must be a maste
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    • Jun 27 2013: Deepak,
      this gives me the chills!!! You have described something indeed so essential, that communication goes beyond 'just words'. The amount we can tell our children through our facial expressions, body language and YES, the vibrations we emanate is underestimated. When I think of families that are going through difficult times, or parents who are separating, the children pick up on these stressful vibes and can be deeply affected by them, without a single word uttered. You are so right, 'vibration speaks'.

      I am inspired by your enlightenment, and the journey you traveled in order to achieve it, and the positive determination you show in wanting to pass this gift on to your granddaughter.
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    Jun 26 2013: So very true, and indeed a sad state of affairs. Nani Palkhiwala in his book 'We the Nation' states that Education today, churns out ' educated terrorists' It is really pathetic to see affluent and educated parents goading their kids to take up subjects, not only because of good monetary returns but to enhance their prestige in their affluent circle.
    • Jun 27 2013: Wow, this is a powerful article, and I think applicable to many systems of education around the world.
      This phrase really sticks with me:

      "Any satisfactory system of education should aim at a balanced growth of the individual and insist on both knowledge and wisdom. It should not only train intellect, but bring grace into the heart of man."

      I read that as meaning that knowledge is as important as building empathy, and kindness. Here here, to that!
  • Jun 26 2013: I like to tackle the "How can we differentiate things like a purpose in life, as opposed to a career", and how we should look at ourselves first before we reach out to kids.

    One way we could would be to purposefully stop asking the ever so common questions...
    1) What's your name? 2) How old are you? 3) What do you do?

    Those three things do not define a person.

    Question is, have you ever thought what the replacement questions would be?
    • Jun 27 2013: Exactly, Tify.

      To me, the answer I am looking for when asking questions like this, is who ARE you. What drives you? What are your passions? Why are you on this earth? What are you feeling?
      These types of questions, however, would be considered too weighty, I'm sure, especially between strangers...

      We ask each other a lot, 'how are you', without really wanting or expecting an answer. There isn't a lot of room for sharing feelings these days, it seems. When to me, feelings is what it's all about. Take speed dating, for example. You've got 5 minutes to determine whether or not you want to spend the rest of your lives together. It's insane!
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    Jun 25 2013: kiss
  • Jun 24 2013: Wonderful question, indeed!
    It’s true that our questions to kids are quite focused on ‘who they want to be in the future.’
    It’s a superficial question, though.
    I, myself also did the same thing to my 8-year-old sister—although the answer changes almost every week lol.

    As a child, I was told by my parents that I should be ‘a powerful person’ when I grow up—because “you are my daughter”. Well, that kind of sounded good for a while since I figured that means my parents put their faith in me. But once that kind of parental defined expectation started to define how I should live and what I should aim for, everything became “boring.”

    Literally, boring.

    You know, adults’ words are the most powerful to kids for they are quite vulnerable to what adults say.

    The ways they teach children and talk to children have huge effects on kids, needless to say.

    Once children hear something from their parents or teachers they start to imagine what they say and it remains for a long time.

    The problem is it also occupies most of the room called ‘a child’s mind’.
    “What’s ya wanna be, kid?’

    Simple, oriented, and explicit.
    No room for a naïve child.
    It consumes creativity, ultimately.
    • Jun 24 2013: Wow, Elizabeth, those are indeed some big shoes to fill. Being 'powerful' can mean anything, but when emphasized the way you described, can be quite simply unattainable! I truly understand your interpretation.
      Sir Ken says how hard it can be to stifle a child's natural sense of curiosity and creativity. That's something I think about often.
      Thank you so much for this contribution!
      • Jun 25 2013: Yup, for parents, it's regarded as crucial encouraging their children to be 'successful' by emphasizing on specific career goals, I suppose.
        Again, how lame it is....!!
        And by lame I mean, it almost kills kids’ creativity and ‘curiosity—as you quote’.

        • Jun 26 2013: So true, Elizabeth.
          I was confronted with an example of that yesterday.
          My daughter is going for her swimming diploma (mandatory in Holland, what with all the water), so she and her group of about 15 kids did all the tests, and were all successful, except one.
          The one who was not successful, is a little girl in my daughter's class, who is a wonderful, spontaneous, loveable kid. She plays here often, and has the most contagious laugh you've ever heard. She obviously had difficulty with diving underwater, which is not uncommon, I would think! Because of her fear of being underwater, she did not pass the exam, and did not get her diploma.
          Instead of supporting her, I heard her parents yell at her. Instead of showering her with support, they called her 'stupid'.
          It broke my heart, and breaks it now to even write this.
          This kind of parenting not only kills creativity, it kills spirit.
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    Jun 24 2013: As a recently turned ex-kid, I think we should talk to them about what they like doing and what they think they would like doing. Not as a job, but just for fun. Then, we can encourage them to do things that they like doing and maybe introduce some activities, puzzles, games, etc. that we would think they'd like doing. As they grow older, we can just upgrade their activities so it is still challenging (eventually coming on to things that people really do for a living) and I think that would be the best segway from kid to adult. A slow gradual increase from little puzzles to larger puzzles to small problems to large problems.

    In terms of just communication, I think we should talk to them as a fellow human being. Don't talk to them like you do a dog (or leash them for goodness sake). Think of them as a pre-adult or future adult. I don't think we should directly ask them what they want to be. Like I said before, I think we should encourage them to do things that are challenging, yet they enjoy doing. The specific job (which they may not know what it's called when they are young) doesn't need to come before high school, because by then they have probably narrowed down to a specific activity or interest that will most likely correspod to a job.
    • Jun 24 2013: I like your way of thinking, Kai. Stimulating thought and encouraging imagination is how we should talk to everyone, including kids, right?!

      I had to smile at your introductory sentence, "As a recently turned ex-kid"... Who's an ex-kid?! Aren't we all still the same kids we were, when we were kids?? ;)
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        Jun 24 2013: Haha, I suppose we all still are at least mentally.
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    • Jun 24 2013: LaMar, I love your approach to things in general, and again, I find your comment a breath of fresh air.
      Parents play a huge part in helping, stimulating, encouraging their children's passions, like you describe! We tried to make sure there was 'a little bit of everything' around the house for them to explore and discover, and what we don't have, we talk about, or find books about at the library. We're library regulars, don't know how I'd be able to stimulate their imaginations without it!!!

      Our kids are always our kids, if they're 5 and 6 (like mine) or 21 (like yours!) How wonderful that your son was inspired by your example to pave his own path and start his own business.
      Trusting him to find his interest at his own pace probably felt very natural to you, LaMar. It would to me too. I think that may be something some parents have difficulty with.

      (edit - those darn typos)
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    Jun 24 2013: There is no harm in asking a kid what his/her dreams are - what he/she wants to become. If that kid happens to be your child, and is still not a teenager, the problem arises when you start seriously believing in what your kid says. You become more focused than your kid, and on the other hand your kid as he grows up, changes his mind from time to time, whereas you become frustrated.

    As parents of kids we have to just monitor and encourage, and when the time comes to take a decision, to guide or seek some professional advice.
    • Jun 24 2013: Asgar, I agree, open communication is great and positive and essential!
      You say, "the problem arises when you start seriously believing in what your kid says". Do you mean, if your child says he/she wants to be something you might not expect, or desire for them? I changed my mind so many times in college... in retrospect, I know my parents must have been concerned, but they knew I would find my way. They gave me the tools to do so, like you say, through a certain amount of monitoring and a lot of encouragement!
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    • Jun 24 2013: Hi Chris,
      those quotes are from the article, so yeah, that is one perspective.

      I agree that this is a wonderfully inspiring question to ask, as long as it's open-ended and open to any and all interpretations, like you say, to stretch their imagination. My son has told me spontaneously that he plans to be a knight, and Spiderman. And a pirate, but a friendly one, of course.

      To me, it's about how the question is asked, in what context, under what circumstances, and how much weight is put on it. When I was a kid, I had to write a report on the subject. I had to choose ONE thing, the thing I was going to be. I lost sleep over it, it completely stressed me out. It had the reverse effect on me, unfortunately, when it could've been an exercise in encouragement. Too bad, huh!
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        Jun 24 2013: Lizanne, when you say it had the opposite effect on you, let's see, the effect it was supposed to have was to cause you to think about what you liked, or what interested you, and it didn't? Or maybe it did, but the process was too stressful. Well, I wonder, though, did you feel like if you put something in the essay you couldn't change your mind, because I seem to remember being asked the question as a child, and I would answer, but I knew that I was just a kid, that it was very likely that I would change my mind by the time I really had to choose, and I realized the questioner knew that, too. And I might have answered and said I was trying to choose between two things, and I knew the questioner would understand that, too, I tend to think that most kids even on an essay feel free to somewhat veer from the guidelines of the essay, it's touching that you wanted to please the teacher so much and answer exactly what she said, but most kids if they were interested in a bunch of occupations would have said it. And you're a person of free and large mind. You know, even the freeest of mind among us can sometimes hit that one question that throws us, and it can be different for every person. I'm thinking that it just happened that that question just happened to be one that threw you, it wouldn't for most kids? But I love that you're saying to be sensitive with the question, and I think we should tune in to the particular child, a question that one child is comfortable with might not be comfortable for another, we have to try to intuit and reason to the right questions.
        • Jun 26 2013: Maybe that's another thing in which we differ, Greg.
          When I was a kid, I held enormous respect for authority, and when my teacher assigned us this essay, there was simply no way around it for me. It was impossible for me to pick one thing, when in my heart, I had so many different passions. I know now how to liberate myself, but I sure didn't at the time. Maybe it was just me...?
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        • Jun 26 2013: I can imagine, Kate, that you would ask this question in a constructive context, perhaps to help kids come out of their shell as an exercise in self-discovery - I would've LOVED it if YOU had asked me this question as a kid!!

          I find it fascinating that you were asked who you'd marry, based on their profession. It's not an uncommon thing, is it? I've heard that often, but more in retrospect - 'Why on EARTH did you marry a musician, Lizanne?!'
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        Jun 26 2013: Well, I had respect for authority, it's just on this question I...well, actually, I probably wouldn't have minded choosing one thing for the purposes of the essay, I probably would have thought that even if you have several interests, one is always going to be a little more interesting to you than the others.

        I still think each person has their own problems that hang them up, but wouldn't hang up most people. For instance, I was a brilliant little kid, but as a kid I went through a year where I was deathly afraid of being kidnapped, on the walk home from school I was watching every car with dread. And I never told anyone, I just struggled with my feelings alone. And then it just went away. I bet almost no other kid struggled with that like I did, it was just my particular thing, it's hard to know why.
        • Jun 27 2013: I think your fears as a child are very common, Greg. There is a thread above about this very subject, the dangers kids face that are very very real, and the fine line between protecting their innocence, but at the same time educating them about the 'real world'.

          Do you remember why you had this fear of being kidnapped? Maybe ow is a good time to come to terms with that fear, and give it a place to rest...?
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        Jun 27 2013: Regarding "I think your fears as a child...." Lizanne, I think it's common as a child to have fears, but each child has different ones, and each child's fears have a different amount of reality. I think my fear of being kidnapped was my particular fear, I'm thinking most kids didn't have it so much, and I think my fear was overblown, that I had too much fear, too often, about it. But I believe it's the rare person who is totally normal, whose fears and dreams are all in the right portions and proportions, and probably most of us sometimes struggle with unusual things that don't haunt too many of our peers. But you know, I was thinking about your original question, it seems to me one point it raises is whether we should live entirely in the present, or deal with the past and future. One objection to asking a kid what she wants to be when he grows up is that it's rather future-oriented. I've not been able to answer this question, should we live entirely in the present, or concern ourselves with the past and future and how significantly. The best I can say is just do what comes naturally, if it comes to you to concern yourself with the present, do that, with the past, do that, future, do that. If it comes to you naturally to ask a child what she wants to be when he grows up, do that, if it doesn't come naturally, don't. I love your original question, does anything I'm saying work for you?

        By the way, I don't know why I was so fearful of being kidnapped. I think if I'd talked to people about it I would have gotten over it very quickly. But the first person I thought to talk to about it was my mom, and my mom, though a lovely person, tends to downplay fear, so I didn't feel comfortable talking to her about that. How do you cope when your children come to you with their fears? Do you think they share everything, or perhaps they're hiding fears? How would you know?
        • Jun 27 2013: Greg, I so hear what you're saying.

          You bring up an incredible important point - kids live in the here and now. The concept of time and chronological events doesn't even occur to them till they are around 5 years old or so, and even then, (as I am confronted with on a daily basis), to my 5-year-old son, 5 minutes from now is the same as 2 hours from now, and yesterday was a really REALLY long time ago... So 'when I'm grown up' is actually unfathomable.

          As far as fears are concerned, yes we all have our own, in all different shapes and sizes. My own fears and phobias have diminished, but I remember terrifying moments as a kid, and being ashamed to talk about them to anyone, for very much the same reason you mention - I was afraid I would not be taken seriously.
          It comes back to our tendency to downplay emotions in general. When kids are scared, what do we say? DON'T be afraid. When they're angry, we say DON'T be angry. When they cry, we say STOP. In a sense, we're telling them those emotions, that they are feeling for a good reason, are not okay to feel, they are not desirable, they need to switch thise emotions off.
          Fear is an essential emotion! Without it, we'd all be lemmings, walking right off the edge of cliffs. It helps us become alert, aware, but can also suffocate us if it isn't properly coped with. It sounds to me like you really needed someone to take your fear seriously, Greg. i'm so sorry that person wasn't around for you back then.

          Did you read Morgan Rich's comment, about how he helps his kids deal with strangers? He has an excellent way to help them learn about their intuition, by studying the people around them, and thinking about who they would/should approach if they got lost, for example. I am convinced, that by talking openly about fears, and aiding kids with the tools to give them their own sense of security, that a fear like yours won't hindr them, but help them develop.
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        Jun 29 2013: Re: Greg, I so hear what you're saying. Well, Liz, I'm still thinking about your topic, I still would like to stress that I don't think you can 100% generalize. In other words, there may be 999 children for whom it is the wrong thing to ask what they want to be when they grow up, but there may be that one child for whom it is the absolutely right thing, just the thing they need to hear. You never know, the best I can say is to just use your brain and emotions and do what feels right.

        Here's something interesting: when I was at Stanford, I was exposed to something called "consensus" decision-making at one of the dorms. It was the only dorm on campus that practiced it, Columbae House, widely known as the most leftist or "hippie house" on campus. Consensus decision-making means that when the house has to make a decision, they keep refining and modifying the plan they're going to implement until every single person at the meeting is content with the final decision. This is quite different from the other houses, where they will discuss an issue and then vote, and the majority carries. In a democracy, 51% may be happy with a decision, but 49% may be unhappy. At Columbae everybody ends up happy. People ask if it takes a long time, and the people at Columbae say sometimes it takes several hours of discussion before we reach a decision that has 100% consensus, but sometimes we can do it very fast, in five minutes. I just thought it was the greatest idea, I participated in it once (I never lived in the house, but I did have a certain dealing with the house), and it just went great, we reached a consensus in five minutes, and everybody was happy. The way it relates to your topic is that it stresses the individual, and that's why I say we should tune in to the individual child, what's right for many children, or the majority, might not be right for every child.
        • Jun 30 2013: Couldn't agree more, Greg. If there's one thing I will not to, it's generalize, especially when it comes to children - that much I have learned from having my own children, and years of working with them. Did you read what I wrote in my description at the top? I was trying to make clear, that I see both sides of this question, and that there is definitely a benefit to asking it...
          "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... "
          This conversation is about HOW to talk about this to kids, not whether or not we should!
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        Jun 29 2013: Also, Liz, I do often think that a question that appears to be about the future is, to a large degree, about the present. For instance, even though the question what do you want to be when you grow up seems to be about the future, in a way it's asking the child what do you value now, what do you like now, who are you now? I guess I'm still working out my feelings about your topic.
        • Jun 30 2013: This is exactly my point, Greg.
          Who we will become, is, IMO, who we ARE.
          It's a question that we can ask ourselves at ay time in our lives, as a way of self-reflection and finding out how to pursue our goals, and dreams! It's a question that, when asked in a constructive, positive, open-ended way, can be extremely beneficial.
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        Jun 30 2013: Thanks, Lizanne. Wonder what time it is there, here it's 1 A.M. Well, one thing my nine-year-old niece enjoys is humor. She herself is quite funny and appreciates humor in others. One time I amused her, I said okay I'm going to draw Mckenna, so I sat there and drew her and then passed the paper around the table, two or three people saw it before her. I had drawn her in a little ballerina costume except I had drawn a wolf head on it instead of a little girl's head. When she saw it she cracked up.

        Another way to talk to her is to find a common interest. I happen to enjoy some Katy Perry songs and videos, one time I was watching one when Mckenna came through so she started watching with me, then we went to Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. That was a nice evening.

        Interesting I read Bieber's autobiography, and he was saying how when you sit and watch media with someone some people feel like they have to be talking the whole time. That was me with Mckenna, we'd watch a cartoon and I'd feel like I should be talking the whole time since I don't see her that often, but I noticed that sometimes she just wants to shut up and watch the cartoon, so I started just watching and not talking so much. That seemed to go better.

        One thing she has appreciated in the past is suggestions on how to play. For example, she and friend Isabella used to pretend they were running a bookstore, and I would point out how they should have a cash register by the exit and bags for the books (cash register might just be an empty box). They seemed to enjoy these suggestions, and probably it is a little exposure to the real world, helps them to notice things about how real businesses operate.
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    Jun 24 2013: I don't know, Liz, I think it's not so bad, it does help the child think about who they are, what they value, or a slightly better question might be "any idea what you want to do when you grow up." Do you think that kids answering the question understand that they may very well change their idea tomorrow, that they're not locked in to their answer, I'm sure the adults realize they can change. Some of it might be that adults just enjoy talking to kids, but can't think of a million original questions. I can see your point about creating a little consumer, but I know I've asked my niece this question, but it was just one of a thousand questions. You know, some may say it reinforces the idea that the way to find identity is through career, of course a big part of how we find identity is through career. If it were all you ever asked your child then it would pigeonhole them, but isn't it just one of a thousand questions?
    • Jun 24 2013: Absolutely, Greg, there is never one answer. If you read my reply to Chris above, you can see why I am deeply allergic to this question, when asked 'improperly', or when expectations are too high, or too limited.
      Kids are limitless, uninhibited, open-minded. Asking a question that forces them into a corner is, in my opinion, putting too much pressure on them.
      That is why I started this conversation - how else can this question be asked, without it becoming too confining? What would you be, if money wasn't an issue? Have you seen this?
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        Jun 24 2013: Well, nice vid. Yes, I don't know, Liz, I'm glad you've sensitized me to this question, I would slightly think that if you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, it's kind of like asking them well, what do you like, which is the question Watts advocates. Or is there some difference that I'm not seeing?

        I sometimes think that when adults are with children, particularly adults like me who aren't around children frequently, they simply enjoy talking with them and will ask anything that comes to mind that seems like it might mildly interest the child, perhaps a handy sort of "stock" question is what do you want to be when you grow up. I remember reading that a handy "stock" question with adults, let's say you're at a party and you need a conversational icebreaker, is to ask someone where they were born, as that can lead to a nice "river" of conversation. I've kept that in mind, and used it often, and it is quite valuable. I can't help myself, Liz, I now have to ask where you were born? In fact, maybe I'll make that a TED convo, where were you born, any interesting stories associated with your birth? My mother was born at home, as it was the Great Depression and her parents couldn't afford to go to a hospital. Funny, my mother ended up to be a multimillionaire.
        • Jun 26 2013: That is essentially what it is, Greg - an ice-breaker! I want to stress that my beef is not with the question itself, but with how it is asked, and how it can sometimes imply a limited answer, or unwillingly put a child into a corner. I think in general that entirely too much emphasis is put on the economy-driving aspect of children's upbringing, instead of the self-exploration aspect.

          Hence my main question, 'How do we talk to kids'? I do the same as you, and I think most of us do, which is have a spontaneous conversation and let thoughts and ideas flow, quite like a meandering river indeed! I do this with adults, as well as with kids.

          Where was I born? Shall I tell you, or wait for you to start a convo??
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        Jun 26 2013: Well, I really deal with hardly any children except my nine-year-old niece, and I only see her occasionally. Occasionally I'll ask her if she has any idea what she wants to do when she grows up, and she seems to find the question engaging, but really it is only one of a thousand questions I ask her, for example if we're watching a cartoon she likes, I might ask her why she likes it, I like to think this helps her explore herself, values and motivations.

        Course on the other hand, you recognize that if people didn't work the human world would collapse, so job choice is important.

        I remember my second year at Stanford I suddenly realized I didn't know what I wanted to major in or do for a career, and it was one of a couple of things that brought on a crisis where I left Stanford for three years before I returned and finished. In my case it might have been good to start thinking earlier about what I wanted to do.
        • Jun 27 2013: I see your point, Greg. I was in the same boat - entered college without a real idea of what I wanted to do 'as a career'. I ended up having several careers, all involving aspects of things that I love to do! ;)
  • Jun 24 2013: LOl,Hi,Lizanne hennessey.When I was a kid,I wanted to be a scientist,to be a doctor:).Neither of them now I am.I am a teacher,and I find the job is suitable for me.

    I remember I talked about it with my daughter.She said she wanted to be a chef,because she read a book which was about foods:).She learned a barber song from kindergarten,then she told me she was going to be a barber:)LOL...
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      Jun 24 2013: Hi Edulover, your comment reminded me of my son when he was very very little.
      He would grab a big bag, fill it with envelopes and then walk around the house delivering mail to everyone.

      And once, when my kids were little, we would play HSN...(home shopping network).
      We would fill the coffee table with all kinds of stuff from around the house, then we took turns trying to convince the others how wonderful it would be if you purchased the item.

      Oh, those days of make believe pretend play were so much fun!!
      We have pretended to be many many workers in many fields of employment.
    • Jun 24 2013: What wonderful memories, Ed and Mary! I used to turn my room into a zoo, or a restaurant, or a gallery. We'd raid the dress-up closet, create detailed menus, cook dishes to serve, trap the cat under a box and call it a rare pygmy lion...
      Make-believe is wonderful, and now that I have kids, I get to do it ALL the time!!