I am going to be sharing with you how it is that you help a young person to appreciate more by giving them less. To be perfectly honest, when I say that we are giving them more by giving them less actually we’re not really giving them less but what we are going to be making a conscious effort to do is to give them less stuff, like less physical stuff and to also educate and encourage them to seek out that physical stuff less which is where you guys come in as teachers. It’s not just about what parents do in terms of offering gifts and offering technology, especially at Christmas.
Generally, gifts and technology break quickly and that means that when we are providing our young people with physical stuff the chances are this physical stuff being around, isn’t going to last them. It’s not going to give them a lifetime of happiness but something else can and this is where I need my parents to step up! Experiences – Good memories are not just the backbone of bonding experiences between families, friends and even between pupils and teachers. Good experiences have so much to teach us in how it is that we engage and interact with the world and how it is that we overcome perhaps certain challenges that might show up as a result of having an experience.
It’s the stuff that you talk about when you’re 80 years old and in an old people’s home. You talk about if you’re fortunate enough to still have your memory by then. You talk about your experiences and good past memories. No one’s going to be in an old people’s home at age 80 talking about their iPhone or tablet. I think it’s a really good time and I know obviously not everybody celebrates Christmas so this is just something to install in yourselves for all of the future no matter what your religious disposition maybe, now is a good time for me to mention the fact that we’re about to enter into that period of gifts and products and technology and whilst those things can bring a degree of happiness, you can’t get used to this stuff being around happiness can wear off, it can fade away and stuff can break.
However, your memories don’t wear off and overtime you can revisit a good memory and remember it in HD true colour with all of the surround sounds that you need to re-experience the good feelings that come with that particular memory. Therefore, what we need to be thinking about for this Christmas is instead of buying gifts that we can stick in a box and wrap up is to maybe start thinking about providing experiences so it could be that you still spend a little bit of money but that you’ve gone somewhere and done something really special. You get some great photos on the day. It could be that you give them the choice of what they would like to do but it has to be about doing something together so that memories can be created and those bonding experiences with the young people that are important in our lives can be created.
To recap, teachers are influencers of young people today. Your role is to highlight to them all the good reasons for doing this and how to manage their feelings around seeing somebody else getting an iPhone for Christmas whereas they got a day trip and what that means to them or a holiday or something like that! Parents – your job is to buck the trend, make a different decision.
So often when working with children I ask them to recall a good memory, of good times they have had, and they struggle. We end up having to use a birthday or other occasion to anchor. It is almost unusual for them to remember an experience that has happened recently. Give them experiences, let them have some input, go to the theatre, bowling, ice rink, play hide and seek in the woods with them.
There’s one particular boy that I can remember working within the school and I said to him what did you get for your birthday, and he said seven days in Majorca, and he was about eleven years old. I remember thinking how unusual it was for an 11-year-old boy to get a holiday for a present and so I challenged him, and I said was this holiday really for you or was this holiday for mum and dad. He said well mum and dad obviously enjoyed it, but I picked this I wanted to go to that place I wanted that for my birthday and seeing everybody else being there and having a great time with me it was the best present I could have had.
Let’s chase after some good experiences this Christmas!
By Gemma Bailey