“I have always been fascinated by how children experience their freedom through song, dance and play and feel the deep happiness of being a child. Young people have experiences that they can hardly put into words themselves. They reach a state where the mind switches off and many things from children’s stressful everyday life no longer play a role. Therefore, we adults should give children more freedom again, so that they can discover themselves and the world in their own playful way.
What saddens me is that we – our society, our upbringing and our education system – often allow so little of it. Everywhere we put up walls, obstacles and boundaries and cut off the energy that is in every child. Try something new? Taste, smell and touch something foreign? Climb new heights or build caves? Follow the curiosity? Not allowed! Expectations and rules clearly tell even the youngest: This is how you should be – this is how YOU are right! Every child has amazing potential. We just need to open our eyes more to it and consciously allow and encourage children’s creativity and imagination.
Let go of the mind and get into the flow
But how can we adults encourage this childlike energy? By giving them space to play, sing and dance. Space to discover yourself, to test yourself and to develop. Because children experience something that goes beyond the practical experience of doing. They make the basic experience: “This is me and this is what I am allowed to be!”.
This experience is essential for growing up and creating. And it works especially well when you sing, dance and play. Children and young people let go of their thoughts and get into a flow. They are not necessarily aware of it themselves, and they may not be able to put the experience into words. But they feel the change because the current fills them. Therefore, they want to experience this state again and again. And in fact: The more often you let yourself fall into the flow, the easier it becomes to achieve unity. Because in the flow, they are automatically freed from a conditioned negative cycle and possible worries. Singing, dancing and playing help them to go through life strengthened and confident.
Set fewer boundaries – instead encourage curiosity and a spirit of discovery
That is why it is so important that we simply let children be children without immediately judging or repressing their every impulse. We should encourage children to be curious and encourage them to keep trying new things. Let’s allay their fears instead of fueling them with inflated expectations. Let’s give them the freedom to explore their world in their own way. Let’s not equate being a child with achievement and success right from the start. And best of all: Let’s do it with them! This brings positive energy into our life and work. All this is especially important in today’s world with its challenges. Corona, social distancing and wars scare our children. It is our job to strengthen them!
But how do we do it? It is not that difficult if we keep reminding ourselves of the following points:
Gives your child time for their own creative play
Don’t plan all your child’s free time, give him time to rest without obligations. Children are often just happy when they can immerse themselves in their play and enjoy their own world. In a detachment from agreements, hectic and challenges, children get the chance to put their own ideas and wishes into life. Being free from limitations gives space to your imagination and lets you immerse yourself in creative experiences. It is so easy for children to get caught up in their actions and the moment. Relaxed play – without the pressure of expectations – lets you reach your center and find your own flow.
Encourage your child to discover the world for himself
Well-intentioned, many parents these days prevent their children from making their own discoveries in their surroundings and with those around them: “Don’t do this, don’t do that”, “Be careful!”, “Don’t leave”. on the high slide!”, or “Don’t climb the wall or you’ll fall.” And again and again the warning “You’re going to hurt yourself!” with the hidden rationale “You can’t do that!”.
Constantly repeated reminders to be careful, prayed in advance by protective parents, are the order of the day. In a constant effort to protect their children, they prevent their own important experiences – both good and bad. In this way, parents train their children’s curiosity and test their own possibilities. Being allowed to get involved in creative play, discovering skills and own limits is often not allowed to take place. The reason for this is fear. Their outer funnels into them: “It’s wrong!”
The child gets the message: “YOU are wrong”. Therefore, give your child more positive reinforcement. When it hears “You can do it! You can!”, at the end of a learning process they will be able to say exactly that: “I can do it! I’m doing it now!”. Don’t put pressure on your child, give it space and time to develop at their own pace, it strengthens their personality.
Promote internal motivation
The external motivation, in the form of evaluation and the corresponding reward system, kills the internal motivation to really develop a talent. The search for buried motivations and talents can become a journey for oneself. The more often a child has the experience of trusting their inner impulses and then happily creating something great, the stronger the intrinsic motivation and courage to follow it.
Listen to your child’s wishes
Give your child space to find themselves, to discover the world in their own way and to live out their creativity. Stop manipulating your child’s desires and counteracting their actual needs. It sounds harsh, but if parents are honest, they often meet their child’s wishes and needs in a way that fits into everyday life as an adult. Practice not constantly confronting your child with new and often excessively high expectations. Let your child sing, dance and play. Give him space for his inner voice, his creativity and his expression – without goals or expectations. Just let it be – being a child.
Motivate your child to discover new things and try out creative ideas
Give your child the freedom to try new creative and crazy ideas. Save yourself comments like “What’s that supposed to mean?”. Instead, signal understanding for your child’s urge to discover, let yourself be drawn into your child’s fantasy world. If it speaks to you in a made-up language, just go with it. Stay awake for an experience with all your senses. Notice your child and absorb their impulses.
Parents don’t have to be perfect when it comes to raising children – they just have to be brave!
My book “Childhood. The Key to Happiness” is for parents who are willing to reflect on all the possibilities they were allowed to explore as children. For those parents who are ready to finally stop trying to do everything perfect, I hope my book will encourage them to listen to their intuition. Who decides what is perfect and right? It is us! I am convinced that as soon as parents stop trying to present the perfect, well-behaved child and give their child the freedom to sing loudly, dance wildly and play creatively, the children’s and parents’ lives can become significantly happier. together. It takes courage to be happy in many ways. This also applies to raising children.
About the author: Anna Greie is the CEO of Stage Up! GmbH, which runs music schools for children and young people in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. Around 350 girls and boys between the ages of four and 22 are taught acting, dancing and singing here. She is the mother of two children. Your book is available from today for 24 hours for free as a Kindle download at this link, and the paperback will be published at the end of October.