Reverse Siri

Do you have young children in your care?

Many of you come to us hoping our coaching programs will benefit their children, usually high school and college students. Intuitively, they should, but they don't. What's interesting is that we, adults, retain the basic instincts of children, and any work with us needs to take into consideration that we can be big babies distressingly often. At the same time, children aren't prepared to behave as adults.

While most of us reach our full height sometime in our later teens, that doesn't mean we're grown up, as our brains continue to grow in volume until our mid twenties. All that neuronal growth, expanding white and gray matter, and freshly snapping synapses allow for all that expansive learning we do when we're young, and why we've traditionally packed formal education into that period.

It was an article of faith for those of us who entered this field before Y2K, that our brains became hardwired when they stopped growing in volume. What's more, we believed we only lost brain cells from this point forward, and didn't grow new ones. We know now, we can grow new brain matter up to the ends of our lives, it's just harder and slower.

A powerful difference in human development occurs here. From conception to our mid-twenties, all the dynamic growth and fluid change favors learning and adaptation. However, it's consequence is instability. After our mid-twenties, our brains stabilize. This stability favors responsibility. We can set a course and hold it. We can trade immediate gratification for future gains, often gains we may never experience.Your life insurance policy, for example. Our success is most often defined by our ability to be responsible. The consequence is identified by the expression "set in our ways." We measurably lose curiosity.

It's not zero sum. Children are capable of all kinds of responsibility, but it's best when it's guided and bounded. Adults can adapt and change, but it requires moral support for the required shifts in purpose and direction. That's why Athena, in her role as spirit of wisdom, appears to the youth, Telemachus, as a guide, and to the elder, Odysseus, as a goad.

Back to those children. Yeah. Big responsibility. If your brain is still growing, reach out to sympathetic elders. The rest of you, take heart, you're not up for the job either. They grow up both because and in spite of us, To repurpose a line from T. S. Eliot, ours is only the trying. The rest is not our business.The unexpected thing is that better than being right all the time, is admitting to your children when you're wrong. The most powerful thing you can say to a kid is, "You were right. I was wrong." It supports rather than undermines you the next time your conviction has you insist you're right.

After that, if I were to create an app for teaching children, it would be a reverse Siri. Instead of asking it questions and getting answers, it would ask them questions. Questions promote curiosity and autonomy. Both are naturally driven by developing brains, as any parent of a two-year old can attest Questions guide and bound those drives.

"Hello, what's the weather like today?"

"Hello,do you want to wear the red sweater or the blue sweater?"

Hello, what's a nice thing you can do for a family member today?

Hello, what's a nice thing to do for a stranger today?

Hello, when do you think is the best time to do your homework?"

Hello, can you think of a good reason why your parents want you home by midnight?

Hello, what's a good reason to do a nice thing for another person?

Do you have young children in your care? Here's what you need to develop. Responsibility: you need to get things done. Curiosity and Adaptation: you need to do the optimum thing at the optimum time.

You're wired for it. Embrace it!

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