The following is an excerpt from a post I wrote in January about trusting kids.
Trust that kids know what they need to become the best people they can possibly be. Trust in their abilities and insights. Trust in the goodness of their hearts. Trust that they will make mistakes, mess up and make bad decisions. But as with all screw-ups, believe that they will learn from the experience and move on to the next important event in their lives with a larger cache of knowledge to draw from. Trust they are not wasting precious time, “doing nothing”. They are learning, growing beings soaking up information every moment of every day, because it is impossible to “do nothing”. As parents or teachers, we can not judge what learning actually looks like, or more importantly, what experiences are valuable for an individual at any given moment.
Reflecting about this particular topic, I realized I missed a huge opportunity. Not only do kids need to know we (adults) believe in them in all the above ways, but they also need to learn how to trust themselves. Once they feel our trust and respect deeply within, they can discover the power of trusting themselves.
The capacity to learn is directly affected by our personal well-being and self-knowledge. If you know what interests you, what you like, what makes your heart sing, and what turns you on, you are more likely to seek out knowledge in those areas. Yes, trusting yourself is the start.
Today's society teaches us that achievements and hoop jumping are more important than personal knowledge and growth. Happiness is wrapped up in the acquisition of possessions and meeting expectations of others. Is there any wonder kids get lost in all of that? If they jump through the hoops, they get the good grades and accolades from adults, and that pushes them to continue hoop jumping. The cycle begins becoming a continuous circle of pleasing others instead of themselves.
All young people need to hear this message. Trust that you know yourself better than anyone else. Trust that your ideas and passions are worthy of exploration. Trust that you are learning and growing every minute of every day. Trust you will occasionally royally screw-up, but that is OK, disasters may be the best possible way to learn. Trust your decisions, don't look back and say “I wish I had...”, because everything you do has meaning. Trust your apologies will be accepted, because they are given with humility. Trust the people around you love you with all their hearts. Above all, trust that you are a good person and other people will appreciate you because you are true to yourself.