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Childhood needs to mature

"Let childhood mature within the child! Which lesson that is needed, beware, to give it today, if you can postpone it without danger till tomorrow!”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, (1712-1778): writer, philosopher, educator, naturalist

Every parent who wants to educate their children should take this quote from Rousseau to heart. Which pedagogical statements are hidden in this quote?

Childhood must mature; childhood should be lived
Childhood must mature; childhood should be lived

Childhood must mature; childhood should be lived.

It's nice when children can experience their childhood as long as possible and are allowed to create their own "Childhood experiences." Experimenting, being able to make their own mistakes, learn their own lessons- these are the best insights and teachings.

You don’t have to teach all the time

Most parents are quick when it comes to moralizing, hints, and tips and never hold back with instructions. For sure, we made already our own experiences, and deep down, all we want is to prevent our children from the negative experiences they made. So they instruct their children how to make it better. At a first glance that is a beautiful intention, however, and as already described above, it also prevents the child to make his own experiences.

As they say: every piece of advice is also a slap! Because every piece of teaching restricts a child to take action. It becomes insecure and finally, will only do as their parents say or what they allow to, out of fear to get it wrong. This is a breeding ground for dependency, insecurity and lack of self-confidence.

Everybody knows it from personal experience: who wants to be patronized and instructed all the time? Much rather, we want to prove that we can do something and that others can trust us. If we restrict a child in developing his strengths, we constrict him.

Maturing – it takes patience

Everything that grows and matures takes time as well. Many parents are impatient. They do not want to give themselves and their children alike, the time it needs to mature; and another piece of advice slips our lips once again. Therefore: Patience! Patience! Patience!

Where is the danger?

Rousseau does not say one should let children run wild, let them do want they want, running the risk of harming themselves and others. No, rather we are encouraged to think about possible dangers that can occur. Then we make a risk assessment. If the risk is high, we need to respond immediately. If the risk is endurable, then we can postpone giving advice.

Some parents see dangers everywhere and wrap their children in cotton wool or trying to keep all possible dangers away from it. For example, it is overcast outside, but still, the child has to wear an SPF50 crème or is not allowed to play outside in the rain. Stomping around in the mud becomes already impossible.

Every child learns to walk by falling. Yes, that can get him some scraps. On the other side, of course, you have the option to hold your child in your arms for all times and never let it go.

Childhood must mature; childhood should be lived
Childhood must mature; childhood should be lived

Youth work and instructions

Of course, youth workers have the duty of supervision and must minimize every risk. However, being laid back, just a bit, trusting and allowing the child to do something by himself won’t hurt either. I would know several instructions I could give. But then again, it doesn’t have to be. Children learn quickly, and some things even solve themselves.

If there are recognizable risks, we respond immediately and give the child the right instructions and also explain to them why something cannot be done that way. However, even in this situation the saying, “The sound creates the music”, applies. Don’t use the senior teacher approach. Teach the child as a friend, a partner, a playmate.

However, coming back to Rousseau again: Give the children the time to explore.

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