Why Most Children Will Not Reach Their True Potential – And What Can Be Done About It.

Why Most Children Will Not Reach Their True Potential – And What Can Be Done About It.
Group of Diverse Kids Playing at the Field Together

Ever wonder why anxiety is skyrocketing amongst children? 

Why depression and suicide rates are escalating year after year amongst our youth? 

Why the personal development industry has blown up in recent decades for adults?

These trends are all interlinked. The patterns of doubt and lack of fulfillment begin much earlier than we would like to believe. A child will shift their nature to garner the love and approval of their primary caregivers, because in many ways, their survival depends on that connection and likeability. 

In turn, children learn to betray their authentic selves from an early age, often at the expense of what they intuitively know is a more honest way forward; one which would bring them joy and expand their natural potential. As children learn to navigate based on the outer world’s expectations of them, rather than their inner GPS or what is known as intuition, it can lead to a confusing relationship within their mind, body and spirit. In essence, the child can not process why what brings them joy would be dismissed by someone they love unconditionally.

The child then learns to shut down their more expansive nature, operating as only a portion of who they really are. They become fearful of the consequences of their greater expression, and making mistakes along the way. This contained way of being is primarily driven by the mind, as the child must be careful not to disappoint their caregivers. It could cost the child the love and connection they are seeking. Yet, living a life led by the mind and it’s fear has a natural orientation towards what isn’t possible, rather than what more is possible. 

This pressure of living from the mind is increasingly enforced by the overwhelming ways of modern-day society. Most parents – particularly mothers – are not well supported enough to be attentive to the child’s real needs; nor their own. Between work and home duties, few parents are able to give children the nurturing care that they need in their early years. By default, the child learns to move quickly through life, and much of their childhood experiences are not processed and learned from fully.

Furthermore, from a cultural perspective, we have built many ‘rules’ around what childhood should look like – forced eating at the dinner table, strict bedtimes, and very structured play with plenty of parental interference when things look less than ideal. Perfectionism is a natural pattern parents develop when they don’t have the bandwidth to be with their own emotions and accept their life process. This inevitably limits the parent’s ability to tolerate the child’s full process.

Traditional education further reinforces what is good or bad. It singles out children who are well-behaved and can perform based on standard metrics, versus those who can not thrive jumping from subject to subject, mechanically. In fact, most children require space and considerably more emotional support to integrate what they are actually learning. To develop in their true potential, they would ideally be allowed to express many versions of their nature, without reprimand. Conventional rules of childhood contribute to the growing confusion children feel in exploring life freely, and engaging in creative solutions. 

What the child learns through this limited life trajectory is that their natural intelligence is not to be trusted. They may learn to hide their emotions, which keeps energy trapped within their bodies that was meant to be processed in the moment and released. The interruptions in energetic flow not only congests their thinking, but their biological function. Children often become emotionally handicapped at an early age due to others not understanding them more fully, and so, they remain immature in their ability to connect to others responsibly as they age. Yet, relationships are one of the greatest pathways to grow! 

Without honest connection, children are forced to find alternative ways to connect to something fulfilling – hence the growing dependency on screens, junk food, alcohol and more. Eventually, the disconnection a child feels to their primary caregivers results in the very least, to a much less than optimally functioning body and mind. The intuition cannot find it’s way into the body, as early emotional blockages shut out any new possibilities that may pull the child away from familiar patterns, even if the patterns are painful ones. 

Such an orientation in life continues to show up in adulthood is somewhat predictable ways. 

  • If the child wasn’t met with delight, they may work to the point of burn-out as adults, in hopes of proving their value.
  • If the child wasn’t acknowledged for trying their best, they may work hard to cover up their imperfections later on, attempting to illustrate that they know have life figured out.
  • If they weren’t allowed to express ‘bad’ emotions, they may find that their own children carry forward the brunt of their own unexpressed hurt. 

The patterns developed in the first seven years of childhood can stay with us for a lifetime. Truly. 

It all sounds pretty doom and gloom, huh? 

Yet, there’s hope. We are at a turning point. We have never had such safe passage to choose a different path in our lives, with the help of accessible practices, safe communities and women being able to use their voices and gifts more freely than ever before.

The task at hand is for enough adults to decide that we no longer want to drag along old patterns that limit their children’s natural expression and abilities.

So on a practical level, how do we go about doing this?

Well, if you are reading this, you are likely doing what is required.  Learning to love yourself unconditionally – through all of your own ebbs and flow, so that you can then accept your child fully in their own natural – and often unpredictably messy – process of learning. 

The personal development world in modern society often has us believe that we are ‘bad’ or incompetent if we don’t heal quickly. Yet, the process of healing is a gentle and gradual one. We all have our own timing in the healing journey. As do our children. Knowing this allows us to relax more fully and actually follow our own intuition more soundly, without feeling the pressure of needing to figure life out right away. Our children will inevitably feel the pressure we put on ourselves, and take on some, if not all, of our worries in hopes of supporting our unease. 

Here are some contemplations that you can journal about, as you explore how to support your child’s fuller potential further – 

  1. What are your top 3 values? Do you make decisions based on these values daily? Have you asked your children what they most value in life? 
  2. What are you not giving yourself permission to do which your heart desires? Do you carve out time regularly to play? To be creative? To sing or dance freely? To connect with your friends?
  3. Do you allow yourself to feel your feelings fully, without holding anyone else responsible for how you feel? How comfortable are you with your tears? Your anger? Your sadness? Do you have healthy ways to release their feelings? 
  4. What is your greatest fear in raising a child? Was this fear present in your own childhood? How did it show up in your relationship with your caregivers? 
  5. What expectations do you carry for our child? Are they expected to give hugs to relatives? Smile when they feel sad? Pose for family photos when they don’t feel comfortable? Go to bed at an exact time when their bodies are not tired? Eat food that they don’t enjoy? 
  6. Do you notice that your child is shut down emotionally or verbally, or reactive, at any specific time of the day – ie. During the morning rush to get to school, upon pick up from school, on weekends with the family, or around specific people? Is your child given space to move at their own pace? What can be done differently to have them feel more seen and heard during these times? What can you do share that it is safe to express how they truly feel? 

 

These times of change at a collective level are very tender, as many of us are deciding for ourselves and our families whether we want to continue as we always have, or create change that will better suit our true nature. If this means you take a break from work or traditional schooling for awhile, then consider that. Even if it means you are a little uncomfortable for a stretch. Creating change is uncomfortable. Yet, taking space from what is routine is a great way to invite real contemplation in, and gradually adopt what better works for you and your children.

We are all so different in our nature, yet our primary need in meeting our true potential is safe emotional connection. This WILL take slowing down, understanding your values and letting go of what is no longer supporting you.

You are worth it. As are your children! 

Please connect with us if we can support you in your self inquiry and life shifts as a family. We would love to help you navigate these waves, safely and lovingly.

We love you. We see you. We honour you. 

Ashley Avinashi

Founder, Raising Humanity