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Singer Songwriter & Vocal Coach, Lizanne Hennessey - Voice Coach

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How can we talk to kids?

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

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

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

In this article, Jennifer Fulwiler proposes that we should altogether stop asking kids this question, as it "reinforces the idea that the way to find identity and value is through career" and "undermines the concept of vocation":
http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jennifer-fulwiler/lets-stop-asking-children-what-they-want-to-be-when-they-grow-up

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 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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