Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, I heard a 5- or 6-year-old girl tell her grandmother she wanted the cashier’s job when she was older. The grandmother didn’t say a word. The young girl then shared with the cashier, “I want your job when I grow up!” The cashier responded with a grin and questioned, “You do?”
“Yes, you get a lot of money,” the young girl said happily.
The grandmother grabbed the child’s hand and pulled her out of the store along with the bags of groceries. As I was walking past them a minute later, I heard the grandmother say, “Honey, you do not want that job. That is a part-time job for the girl, and she does not get all the money; the store gets the money. The store pays her very little to do that job.”
Let’s pause for a moment and try to think about the ideas flowing through the little girl’s mind. One minute she was excited about a future job, and now she was hearing every reason to not be excited but to question her desire.
In the previous post, I mentioned the idea of mental baby steps or gigantic leaps when interacting with a child (click here to read the post). The above situation is an example of a gigantic mental leap for the young child. The child was given a lot of ideas to process but there was more confusion than certainty in this interaction.
This also is a good example of the adult point of view dominating the interaction (click here to read this post).
When a child is sharing a future goal with you, tell yourself that there is something within that goal that excites the child. LISTEN to the child share the goal. Try and find out what excites the child here and provide a baby step. For example, when the young girl shared being excited about being a cashier, a baby step would be to say something ENCOURAGING, such as, “Well, if you want to be a good cashier, you better learn how to count money.” Tap into the child’s excitement and TEACH her a lesson in counting money later that day. Tell her that you LOVE that she’s thinking about the future and thinking about goals. Use the excitement as an opportunity to T.E.L.L. the child to think and act a certain way that is desirable.
Similarly, I heard a story about a 14-year-old who dreamed of becoming a vet. Her mother encouraged her to gather information about veterinarian school. Her mom added how important it was for her to start paying better attention in science class.
The next time your child shares something of excitement, tap into the desire and T.E.L.L. your child to learn something beneficial in that moment. Think of interacting with a baby step. The young girl in the opening story may or may not become a cashier in ten or more years. Trying to get a young child to understand something that may or may not happen in the far distant future will more than likely be a gigantic leap. What can you say and do here and now to step the child in the right direction?
Thinking about how children dream reminds me of a story I once heard of the great Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench. He said in elementary school they asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. When he told them a professional baseball player, they laughed. In middle school again he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said a professional baseball player, and they still laughed.
By the end of high school, they had quit laughing.
Many of our youth have grand dreams at a young age. Tap into this excitement. T.E.L.L. the child about perseverance, discipline, hard work, determination … think of the many possibilities you can focus on to help a child gain stamina and strength in life!
About the author of this post: Denise Forrest, Ph.D.
Denise is a mother of three grown children and has been a teacher to thousands of students. She is the creator of the TELL message and Founder of TELL Our Children, Inc. Denise also serves K-12 schools as an educational consultant focusing on mathematics education and instructional decisions for student learning. You can contact her by emailing email@example.com.
Thank goodness the majority of adults agree with this statement made in the title of this blog! We make it our aim to raise our children the best we know how.
The question isn’t if it is a goal; the question is more how we are going about achieving this goal? Read any book on goal-setting and it is loud and clear that achieving a goal requires conscious decision and effort. It is not enough to just hope we achieve the goal. We are to keep the most important goals constantly in front of us, and make it our highest priority day in and day out. If we don’t stay focused and work on the goal, we may achieve something less or not achieve the goal at all.
So when it comes to raising our children, do we really have a plan for achieving this goal, or is it like one of those resolutions we state and may – or may not – achieve? If goal success requires conscious decision and effort, what might that look like when it comes to raising our children?
One idea is to consciously decide to find something to T.E.L.L. your child every day. Consciously try and teach, encourage, listen, and love them. Place a reminder on your phone, on your refrigerator, on your laptop, on your bathroom mirror. “I will T.E.L.L. my child today!”
Keep this most important goal right in front of you. Make it a priority day in and day out! Instead of merely hoping we are raising our children, let’s make it our constant effort to T.E.L.L.them. Maybe then we can start to achieve one of our primary goals – raising our future.