As I listen to my children banter in the car on our way to school, it astounds me how well developed their opinions and thoughts are. This generation of children and young people are so different to others. They cannot be ‘bought’ so easily with a trophy of success or a gleaming smile across TV channels, or a poster on a bedroom wall.
Our kids are now truly informed, they’re looking for inspirational people that have more to offer the world. They’ll follow them on Instagram, and learn from their journeys.
My 14-year-old son is inspired by stories of adversity, and by people that are creating technological advances that are environmentally sound. He is particularly attracted to likeable, authentic people that are not affected outwardly by their success; they are modest and feel at ease amongst the real people. He looks up to people who are family orientated, inclusive and use their freedom of speech rather than superstars hanging out with other celebrities.
My daughter finds Stephanie Gilmore to be inspiring for many reasons other than her surfing prowess. Stephanie uses her connections and status to help our ocean thrive; she’s stylish and strong in a male dominated sport. She is authentic and talented in many aspects including music and design and my daughter also says, ‘she’s a natural beauty’.
This is the future I want for my kids: looking up to people who are showing them they can be anything they want. The people they admire are authentic, honest, and healthy. They’re usually thoughtful and conscious in their living. These kids are truly inspired by character qualities as opposed to status.
I’m a teacher, and every day in the classroom I’m astounded by the development in the students’ vision and opinions over the past 15 years.
Children have always been energetic and honest in their thoughts, however this generation have grown up in a truly technological age. They don’t remember a time before social media. And while there are clearly many issues with how we’re using social media, there’s some incredible ways our kids have immersed themselves in this culture – and they’ve gained a deepened understanding of all people because of it.
Socially, kids are developing the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes, and understand that actions have consequences. Adults have the opportunity to support children by helping them reflect on things like cause and effect, so they maintain strong among their peer groups.
As teens, kids start thinking more abstractly and with more complexity. They consider the “what ifs” of situations to figure out possible outcomes. These new skills help them see that other people’s reactions are sometimes based on different perspectives and experiences.
These 2019 youth have a vast knowledge of a variety of subjects, and are well informed with details. Our teens may appear to be focussed on their phones, but what they’re watching may shock us all.
Many of our youth watch clips on current day issues, so they’re informed when speaking with their peers. It’s actually cool to be smart and informed, and these types of students are becoming our school leaders, and modeling a new type of ‘popular kid’. They listen to podcasts, and they watch inspiring people in their daily life.
One amazing example was the #taylakickchallenge earlier this year after Tayla Harris fought back trolls on her social media accounts. This image made an extensive impression in the playground many schools and inspired the discussion for equality for young girls and boys.
I believe parents need to have respect for our youth, we need to listen carefully to our children and value the opinions and choices. Of course we are still their parents, but respect is a two way street. The most inspiring people in my own life are actually the youngest people; my kids and the ones I teach. These kids are actively shaping their own future by finding the right people to look up to, which inspires me to help them along their way.
The new role model talks about the failures and successes, not just the good stuff but also the hard stuff. They share their honesty of the sporting world. They give insight into their knockbacks and this is another source of inspiration to aspire too. This is the generation that will tackle environmental issues; they won’t put up with sexism, and will fight for what is right.
Gone are the days of kids being inspired by a celebrity or sports star who never lose. Our kids and young people are inspired by genuine, fulfilled characteristics and humane qualities, and they can read you like an open book.
Health and Happiness,
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