The power of children

24 November 2020 | Opinion

Mariselle Stofberg



On 20 November, we celebrated World Children’s Day. This day is dedicated towards celebrating the power of children to change the world.

There is an entire day dedicated to celebrating the power and possibilities of our children, and yet how we love to underestimate them.

We silence them and their ideas and imagination.

We force them to conform to societal norms. We encourage them to be creative, to be different and unique, yet we get scared when they actually listen to what we say.

We want them to be proud of who they are, but we continue to force them to be who we expect them to be.

We get angry when they stand up about injustice, when they question norms and customs and when they ask questions.

We think we need to always protect them from the truth, because they can’t handle the it.

We want to keep them in these perfect little bubbles, because the more we control them, the better they will turn out. We want them to be clean and quiet and perfect.

We think that with the right recipes and the ingredients, we can create the perfect children.

The reality is there are no perfect children. Perfect is overrated and, quite frankly, extremely boring. Children are supposed to be loud. They are supposed to sing and dance without any music playing. They are supposed to ask endless questions. They are supposed to play outside and get their hands and feet dirty. They are supposed to have sticky hands and gap teeth and hair that finds it utterly impossible to stay neat.

They should be allowed to speak their minds and they should be given a platform where they feel heard. We should teach them that it is okay to question, because just because you question something doesn’t mean you are disrespectful.

Children are more resilient than we give them credit for. A worldwide pandemic brought the world to its knees. Leaders were speechless, economies crumbled and organisations and corporations were dumped into turmoil.

But children? Children stayed children. They adapted and they thrived. The listened and they understood the changes that had to be made. They were taken out of school, and living rooms and kitchens were transformed into makeshift classrooms.

Yet, they adapted and accepted the changes, which we as adults still have trouble processing.

We expected them to fail, yet they have shown us that all you need is the right mindset. They see the magic in a world where we thought it all to be gone.

We see living rooms where they see castles and forts. We see paper and they see paper planes. We see challenges and they continue to see solutions, yet we never give them the time of day to hear what they have to say.

Age and qualifications and awards do not necessarily mean you are the only one who can have an opinion. We need to stop thinking that children are too young to make a difference.

We need to stop telling them that when they are older, they can be the change they want to see in the world.

And we definitely need to stop telling them that they are not old enough or important enough to question the status quo.

We need to provide them with platforms and opportunities and the resources to use their creativity and innovation.

We need to encourage them to think of solutions, instead of highlighting problems. We need to reinforce the idea that they should ask questions and say what’s on their mind.

We should tell them again and again that they are strong and beautiful and capable and important.

We should tell them that they first need to believe in their own worth, because if they believe in themselves and their capabilities, the world is their oyster.

We need to tell them that the world is hard and unfair and judgemental, but the world’s opinions don’t matter.

We need to stop babying them, and rather equip them to thrive and not simply survive.

Children are stronger than we give them credit for, and their power shouldn’t scare us, but rather encourage us to follow suit.

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