There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children. Nelson Mandela
I am worried that we are not doing something about the cause of why many suffer mentally today and rather just trying to fix the symptoms.
Children need dependable, consistent and loving relationship to grow up into strong and resilient adults. Since the seventies more and more children spend a great deal of their day and are raised outside their home with few adults and with very little consistency. That causes stress within a child wich effects their brain and can make them more sensitized for life.
Back in 1996, I chose to change our swim school from how swim schools were operating traditionally and let our parents be able to stay in the water with their children or on-deck close by.
I myself as a mother felt that every activity my child could attend to after the age of two was without me. And you might question why? Because it is for sure not the child's wish. (Eventually they will choose activities without their parents but not as two-year-olds...)
My intuition told me that it was good and important to keep parents and children together. I also felt that it was of extra importance as they today already spend enough time apart during a day.
In 2007, I read in the BO's* report that 40-50% of Swedish children grow up with an insecure attachment**. And that it is applicable throughout the entire western world!
Why? Mainly because we have moved towards a society that is not as child and parental friendly as it could be. Children need dependable, consistent and loving relationship to grow up into strong ad more resilient adults. Today many children spend a great deal of their day and are raised outside their home with too few adults and with very little consistency. This means that they will not be able to develop the important close relationships they need. They adapt but the cost can be unnessary high.
Today researchers know so much more about our early childhood and how our early life relationship experiences will effect how we view ourselves, others and the world and also how happy and resilient we will grow up being. But there is a huge gap between what researchers now know to what is practiced in homes, institutions, schools and among adults in general in their contact with children.
Children are very vulnerable; especially when they are small. They don't tell us what to do, they react and adapt. They need dependable, thoughtful and responsible adults and not only their parents but decision makers and teachers too. When they grow up with that kind of people around they will grow up to become strong and healthy individuals with the ability to love one self and others.
Today we are experiencing more "burnt out" adults and an alarming increasing amount of teenagers and young adults who suffer mental illness. We need to understand the important needs we have as small children and take care of those to stop the trend.
Our swim school is a very small world but together with the 3400 people that weekly swim with us we see and feel the effects. Here we have made it possible for parents and children to be able to share, enjoy, learn and develop together. Just as it was meant to be.
Children learn best when there is dependable adults to teach and guide them. Through love, respect and consistency in a relationship we learn to know one another. Adults who know the child is more able to give the child the opportunity to explore the world and give them the “just the right challenge” at the right time. By that they are providing the opportunity for children to grow up into into strong, healthy adults.
I know it's important also as business owner, employer, manager and as one of those children who grew up in the seventies a little too insecure. I know in my heart, just as many other parents do too, that our small children wants to be and thrive around us parents and with the other important adults who are interested and willing to be part of their world.
This is what we, me and my staff together with the thousands of families experience every day and it feels good. There is no doubt that children learn and develop best in close and loving relationships. I would love to see more action in making our society a little more parent and child friendly. We just need to see and make it possible.
If we want to take care of our world, take care of our children. Then children grow up confident in that people are nice and responsible and that the world is a great place to be. By that they will grow up to be nice and responsible adults and also take care of our world.
Loads of love and awe to all the lovely people who devote their time to make a difference in the lives of children and their parents.
*BO is The Ombudsman for Children in Sweden, a government agency tasked with representing children regarding their rights and interests on the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
**A safe attachment between child and caregiver is today known as critical to a childs wellbeing now and also in the future. Research has shown that children who have a safe attachment gains a lot, they: have greater empathy
grow better self esteem
have better relationship with parents and piers,
start school ready to learn,
has better ability to control their emotions
When they grow older they have better conditions for a good mental health now and in the future.
The attachment theory was developed by John Bowlby