As I reflect on all the children I met on my tour of Spirituality for Kids programs in Colombia and Peru last week, I am struck by how all children, from the poorest to richest, face similar internal challenges. Yes, the life of a poor child can seem to be very different from the life of a rich child, but in essence they are all vulnerable to the same major risks and share the same essential needs.
I see three main risks facing all of our children today. Being conscious of these risks can help us rethink how we interact with our children.
1. The risk of associating power with negativity
Through media and/or real life, kids today are witnessing gang and gun violence, bullying, political and corporate corruption, terrorism, wars, etc. Negativity draws all the attention, and it seems that being powerful and strong goes hand in hand with being “bad.”
When I looked at the eyes of the 8-year-old children in Lima, all I saw was pure Light. Then I thought to myself, “When does this Light get covered by fear, anger, and distrust? And how can we prevent that?”
As parents, we need to ask ourselves: Are we showing our kids a better alternative? Do we believe that our Light is more powerful than our Opponent? Are we helping our kids own their power with love and kindness?
2. The risk of not knowing how to deal with their emotions
How many times do we tell our kids to stop hitting, stop teasing, stop cheating, etc? We are focused on correcting our children’s behavior, but what tools are we providing them with to be successful in dealing with their emotions?
We all have strong negative and reactive emotions at times. Those feelings are valid and even necessary. But the real power lies in the ability to stop before I act and control my next move.
All children need to learn the difference between a reactive feeling and a reactive behavior, with the addition of a helping hand, not a punishing one, to gain the strength to resist.
3. The risk of not being able to overcome challenges
It is hard as parents to see our kids in pain, which is why we constantly try to prevent and save them from challenges. Doing so creates the same result as when we have fever and take a fever reducer – our body stops fighting the fever. We enable our children while taking away their need to fight and their ability to overcome.
And what about the kids who see their parents handling their challenges with violence, drugs, alcohol or depression? Are they being shown how to treat challenges as opportunities?
There are so many steps that we can take as adults to help our children, and we have explored various ones in many of our previous blog posts. But the first step is being aware of these risks the next time we interact with our children at home or in the classroom. The biggest risk of all is when we don’t step up to be their role model.