At what age should one teach a child about good principles? At what age should a caregiver vary the mix from pure indulgence and play to real life lessons? Are there age appropriate principles? At what age should kids understand about work ethic? About happiness?
The one thing everyone seems … and emphasis on “seems” … to agree on is that kids should be taught to share ASAP. And this is great. However I seem to encounter college age … and definitely a lot of executives, all of who just believe they must compete and win any opportunity … at any cost … with anyone. And yet … few of them seem at peace or happy.
Should parents and care givers feel responsible for having turned out such deplorable humanity? Can we even control such outcomes? What can we even do?
Ironically the animal world is a mix of contrary lessons. Life lessons come early for young animals. Danger is ever present and young animals learn to avoid it almost as soon as they can walk. It is survival. Competition, territorial behavior and kill-or-be-killed are classis adult animal behaviors. This is also the survival instinct. How is it we “humans”, for whom there are far diminished dangers and competition for survival, are turning out much the same? How do we land the same result despite completely different and perhaps overly indulgent and protective child rearing instincts?
As a child I was taught over time to put others welfare before my own interests. For the most part I did. When I arrived on a sports field … and later in corporate America I had to school myself in the art of competition. And I did prevail. However, it always appalled me to see the extent of ethical transgressions and self centeredness. Sadly, despite all that the level of malcontent and unhappiness was off the charts. It caused me to think about how we might create a better world.
Three principles are paramount for parents and educators to understand and inculcate in kids … as early as possible:
- to share and care
- to work and build … and not just play … or worse yet just grab
- to understand happiness and actually be happy.
I am often asked why I focus on writing kids books even though I have no children of my own. The…