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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 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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