In our culture, we have a nasty habit of romanticizing childhood as the greatest time to be alive. Films and TV shows are guilty of this, as are books and even certain podcast series! That said, our own memories can be the worst offenders: somehow, we are able to turn the complex narratives of our own childhood pasts into rosy romps through flowery fields where everything was better and we were happier.
This may be a common psychological phenomenon, but it has a deleterious effect on the way in which we expect our children to be in the world. Many of us can’t understand why our children – or the children of our friends and family, for that matter – don’t appreciate what they have enough to spend each day radiant with joy.
The Reality of Being a Child
The truth is that children have negative emotions as well as positive ones, and they are not immune to the world around them. One quick look at the front of your average news website, even in passing on the way to a site for games or children’s content, will tell any child everything they need to know about how terrifying and grim the world seems to be at present.
What’s more, it is becoming harder and harder to build community in a world that is increasingly isolated. Even before the imposed isolations of the pandemic, it was difficult to find community spaces for support and socialization. In the wake of the pandemic, social distancing has really taken its toll. It is little wonder that children aren’t necessarily jumping for joy all the time!
How You Can Help
Whether you are a parent, a family friend, or a close caring relative of a child, there are things you can do to help them get that joyous childhood shine back.
The first is to become interested in what they are doing. Many of us are too quick to criticize children for being on computers or phones all day. In fact, digital technologies – like Lenovo tablets for kids – are a huge part of children’s lives! Using a tablet or a phone, they can access incredible worlds of information as well as magical interactive stories to engage with. If you show interest in this part of their lives, you’ll help them understand that their pursuits are valid instead of a waste of time.
You can also be honest about your own doubts and fears with the children in your life. Pretending that everything is fine when you feel sad, angry, or anxious about the state of the world yourself teaches children not to acknowledge their own emotions, which may cause them to become withdrawn and shy away from the world. Instead, encourage them to participate in discussions about what is happening, both in their lives and in the world around them.
Ask them for their opinions on issues that matter and make them feel as though they are a part of the society in which they live. Because, after all, they are a part of the society in which they live! Your job as an adult in their life is to encourage rather than discourage that notion.