“What we are teaches the child far more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.” ―Joseph Chilton Pearce
Every child has some intrinsic genius found not only in the right genes, present not only as a gift of nature. Yes, it helps to be born with good DNA. Yet the true genius in any child is usually brought out by a magical nurturing genie: that parent, sibling, teacher, or grandparent who mentors him as he grows into his own distinct capabilities.
Learning is not a static result but a dynamic process. It relies on incremental movement patterns that allow the learner to cognate in new ways and then replicate or build on what was learned. Just as physical movement affects thoughts and feelings, so thoughts and feelings affect the physiology.
In his book The Genie in Your Genes, Dr. Dawson Church confirms this, pointing out that “. . . scientists are discovering the precise pathways by which changes in human consciousness produce changes in human bodies. As we think our thoughts and feel our feelings, our body responds with a complex array of shifts. Each thought or feeling unleashes a particular cascade of biochemicals in our organs. Each experience triggers genetic changes in our cells.” 1
Those of us who work with young people continue to learn every day as we advocate for children’s well-being and for the circumstances that will allow them to realize their potential. When we make mistakes or fall into unproductive habits, we can still grow in our mentorship by noticing what we now intend to do better.
Each child is unique, as is every family and relationship. The first step toward positive change is to notice, in the interpersonal dynamics, what’s working and what isn’t. We can notice in terms of the Learning Flow2: Am I trying beyond my means by stressing out, reacting, and adding to the chaos? Or am I setting clear new intentions, taking care of myself, and doing my personal best in interacting with my child and exploring each new challenge? I encourage parents to stay in that latter, clear state: as they gain confidence with each familiar “Got it!” aspect of parenting, they can also keep “Getting it . . .” by staying open to the emerging and often unfamiliar nuances of a child’s character.
Children learn from what we do—that is, our nonverbal actions—not what we say. The ways that mentors, as models for young people, think, move, rest, connect with others, choose their foods, and care for themselves (see 3 – 7) will all contribute—for better or worse—to children’s most important learning. We don’t need to rub a magic lamp and command a genie, we need to be a genie, standing up for children everywhere by respecting and nurturing their youthful potential as we guide them in bringing forth their gifts.
We can’t protect children from all of life’s slings and arrows. Yet a true genie ensures that her young genius charge takes part in experiences that inspire him, just as she safeguards the quiet time he needs to nurture his creativity.
Receiving this gift of mentorship, children can be free to follow their own path and discover the world in their own best way.
1 The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention, 2007, p. 25
2 In Edu-K, we describe the learning process in terms of a Learning Flow: two states of awareness that are in continual flowing interplay. The full Learning Flow chart and details of how to use it can be found in Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, (C) 2010 by Paul E. Dennison and Gail E. Dennison.
3 “Remission of depression in parents: links to healthy functioning in their children,” Garber et al., 2011, Child Development, Volume 82 (1), p. 226 – 243.
4 “A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety,” Moffitt et al., 2011, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Volume 108, p. 2693 – 2698.
5 Genetic heritability and shared environmental factors among twin pairs with autism,” Hallmayer et al., 2011, JAMA Psychiatry, Volume 68 (11), p. 1099 -1102.
6 “Children’s sleep and cognitive performance: A cross-domain analysis of change over time,” Bub et al., 2011, Developmental Psychology, Volume 47 (6), p. 1504-1514.
7 “Five days at outdoor education camp without screens improves preteen skills with nonverbal emotion cues,” Yalda T. Uhlsa, Minas Michikyanb, Jordan Morrisc, Debra Garciad, Gary W. Smalle, Eleni Zgourouf, Patricia M. Greenfielda. Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 39, October 2014, p. 387–392, Elsevier.
Click here for a translation of this article into Spanish: ¿Es usted un “Genio” para el “Genio” de su hijo?
© 2015 by Paul E. Dennison. All rights reserved.
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