When I was little bagels were my favorite food. I was about six years old and sitting in my favorite bagel shop with my mom and brother. On the table right in front of me was a little pitcher with a lid on it. I was curious about what this pitcher might hold so naturally I picked it up. I had just opened it and seen the cream that lay concealed beneath the lid when out of nowhere the pitcher was snatched out of my hands by a tall mean-looking waitress. “Don’t touch this, you’ll spill it,” she said. And was gone before I could get over my shock at what had just happened.
I couldn’t believe that a stranger would just grab something out of my hand. I had never been treated with such disrespect before. It was a harsh realization that some adults invalidate the feelings of children because of their age. Twelve years later I am still upset when I think about that day. Up until that point I had been very lucky to be almost exclusively surrounded by adults who treated me with respect. Never having been in school I had never had the experience of adults enforcing rules that made no sense to me.
Since that time I have witnessed children’s feelings being disregarded by adults countless times. This begs the question: if children are disrespected, told their feelings are unimportant, and forced to mindlessly obey rules that make no sense to them how will they learn to be respectful, healthy, independently-thinking adults?
Is being happy as an adult so very different from when you were a child? Or being sad, angry, confused, or any other emotion? Just because children perceive the world in a different way than adults does not mean their feelings deserve any less consideration than that of another adult.
Children are human beings and they deserve to be treated as such. The opinions or interests of any given child are not wrong by default. A child’s curiosity is a sign that they are engaged with the world around them. Instead of fixating on all the things children cannot do, we should believe in all that they CAN do.
Every child I have ever spoken to has astonishing imagination and creativity. Whether or not you are able to relate to this creativity on any level is up to you. To talk to children don’t treat them as inferiors just because they are younger than you. Listen to them like you wanted to be listened to when you were a child.
Children are wonderful, beautiful, intelligent people and have every right to be recognized in that way. If they are taught that they are not respected and unimportant that is what they will grow up believing. But if instead they are taught that they are trustworthy and important, then just think of the possibilities that will open up ahead of them.
“All I am saying…can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could me more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.”