Children listen to and internalize everything you say.
I try to be kind with my words for as much of my day as I can – there are sometimes situations that make this difficult, but I do try very hard to use positive, kind, compassionate words. Firstly because I just think that this makes me feel better – and there is a lot of research now that is saying that you can actually rewire your brain to make you a more happy person by thinking positive thoughts. Here is one article about it.
But also because I know that my kids are listening to everything I say, even when I don’t notice that they are, and they are forming the way in which they are going to live in this world based on the things that they see the adults in their lives doing. And I want them to be happy, optimistic, kind people, so that is the behaviour that I try to model as much as I can.
My kids gave me a reminder of the importance of this the other day. They were watching a show on TVO Kids (we really do love TVO Kids here) called “Can You Imagine That?”, where kids talk about what they want to be when they grow up. The one that they were watching on this day was about someone who wanted to be a fashion designer. They both commented about the fact that I would probably not like this one because it was about fashion design.
That made me stop in my tracks. I was trying to think of exactly what I have said that would give them this impression …. I could not think of a recent conversation about this, but they were right, I am not a big fan of the fashion industry. I have probably said things in the past about how ridiculously priced some name brand items are and how it doesn’t make a person any better just because they are wearing something that cost as much as my entire wardrobe. I imagine I have also mentioned how really cheap clothes, that are probably made in sweat shops with child labour, are also bad – because of the sweat shops and child labour, but also because they will most likely fall apart quickly and then end up in our landfills, plus the amount of resources it takes to make the clothes from half the world away and then ship them to us here. And I know I have talked about how much I hate magazines and the photo-shopped images they use, images of young women who were beautiful enough without being photo-shopped, which result in young children (really people of all ages) having unrealistic ideas about what their bodies should look like and hating their bodies if they don’t fit this image. Most likely all of those things have been said by me many times throughout my children’s lives.
But then I thought that I didn’t want them to think that this young girl was a bad person for wanting to be a fashion designer. I wanted to try to put a bit of a positive spin on this. So I told them that I would actually be super proud of them if they went into fashion design and made clothes for all body types that people could actually afford. If they sourced out fabric that was environmentally friendly and made good quality clothes that would last. If they found a way to use all recycled fabrics. And if they learned how to sew the clothes themselves and found great joy in this, I would think it was the greatest thing ever.
And I really do mean all that. It is actually on my to do list to learn how to make pants for my 5 year old daughter. She has very specific demands for her pants – she wants a nice, comfortable material (that won’t rip the first time she falls down or dives to stop a soccer ball), an elastic waist, and a wide leg with a bit of a flare at the bottom. Whenever she tries on a pair of pants, she does a test squat. If the waist stays where it should, the pants are approved. If the pants fall down her bum a bit – like most jeans or all pants with buttons or snaps do on five year olds, then the pants are not approved. When I told her that we should try to learn how to make some pants for her based on a pair that she loves, she was amazed. “We could make our own pants?”, she asked. I think that teaching her that she has the power to create what she wants in this world will be a super important lesson!
If my kids wanted to use their fashion design skills to make super cool costumes for World-Changing Kids to wear when they are doing Acts of Kindness to make the world a better place, like the one pictured above, that would be pretty cool too!
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