The number one action any of us can take to honor each other is to value our differences. Honoring what we each uniquely bring to any situation results in one thing, respect. Respecting our youth holds true to the same line of thinking. Children are unique and their differences require understanding, insight, and compassion.
Anyone who has parented, taught or hung out with kids knows there is one undeniable certainty, children process the world differently from adults. Adults tend to rationalize, reason and explain the world around them. While children in contrast, through the remarkable lens of youth, display spontaneity fueled by emotion in place of reason. This tender mix often finds kids in a quasi state of conflict with the grown-ups who care for them. Knowing the capacity for reasoning is not expected to arrive fully until the age of 25 means our kids need patience, tolerance and composure from adults in order to be respected for who they are and who they are becoming.
A second area of importance in honoring our youth is to recognize the physical differences they bring us. Ever wonder why kids seem to have a never ending supply of energy? A new study suggests that kids are rock stars considering the way their muscles resist fatigue, with scientist comparing children to elite endurance athletes when it comes to energy levels. Not only do kids have a bottomless bucket of energy for physical activity, it seems they also appear to recover faster than adults after a workout. This reality fully explains the need for just five more minutes at the park or one more trip around the block on the bicycle long before the adults accompany them are ready to call it a day. As adults, an awareness of this difference is critical when it comes to fully appreciating the energy filled youngsters in our lives.
Our children are watching us. How we respond to joy, conflict, challenge and grief. In a world where adult role models are more critical than ever, we have an ethical responsibility to nurture the spirit of our children. Kids have trouble sometimes; sharing, owning their choices and expressing their feelings. Let’s show them how it’s done by modeling genuine empathy, compassion and tenderness. Let’s let them see us make mistakes and own our actions. Let’s show our kids that by honoring their unique needs, we not only respect them in this moment and time, but we celebrate their launch into the future.
Polli Ring is a freelance blog writer with a passion for dance, writing, Colorado and beyond.