Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.
Do you recall the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson? For those who might not remember this fairy tale, let me refresh your memory.
There was once an emperor so vain that he changed clothes every hour, and two con artists decided to take advantage of his vanity. They came into town and promised to sew clothes that would be so light and fine that the only ones who would be unable to see them would be those who were too stupid or too incompetent to see them.
When the emperor in his arrogance and vanity marched down Main Street to show off his new clothes, he was extremely confident that he looked amazing. His “wise and competent” advisors continuously told him that the clothes were everything he thought they were. At the apex of the parade, it was a child who stood up and shouted above the noise of the crowd, “But he is naked. He has NO clothes on at all!” The entire crowd was stunned by the wisdom and courage that the child demonstrated when NO one else around the king was bold enough to express the truth.
Children speak the truth, and all we need to do is listen. We sometimes surround ourselves with so much noise and so many different opinions regarding what children need. We then proudly walk through our days interacting with them in a manner that we’ve been told is right, and yet we ignore what the children themselves tell us they need.
Children ask for our time. Children tell us that they just want to be around us. They are comforted by just being in the same room with us. They forgive easily and don’t hold grudges. They ask us to hold them — even older children love physical contact although they act as if they do not. They ask us to play with them. They have a propensity for joy — adults are the ones who stifle it. They find beauty in simple things, and yet we inundate their world with ads and pressure ourselves to buy all the THINGS that we think they need to be happy. They do not need “things.” A child can have tremendous fun playing in a cardboard box.
Determine that you will truly listen to your child. You will be astonished at the wisdom and truth he will provide. Get rid of the noise and focus on really listening. You might find yourself strolling “naked” in the parade of life with advisors who have lied to you about what children really need. If that’s true, just grab a robe and sit down and listen to the real expert … the child you have the honor of loving and guiding. Inside that little heart is a wealth of treasure.