People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
In my parenting workshops, when I talk about ways to find that switch in the kids’ brain and talk about Eden, who is emotionally gifted, and Tsoof, who is musically gifted, I get a feeling that many of the participants believe that they were born gifted. The hardest thing for me to do in the workshop is to convince them that Eden and Tsoof were as ordinary and special as all other kids in the world. Sometimes, when I manage to convince my clients how we did it, they sit there in shock and in silence for a minute and ask, “Do you mean your kids are just regular kids?!”
Yes, I do!
“They are as regular as others and they are as special as others. All kids have the light inside. The only difference between them and others is that their parents dedicate enough energy to finding the switch that turns on the light”.
There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in
– Leonard Cohen
I believe that the essence of life is finding that switch and turning the light on. This light is where all good feeling resides. Where success can find a home, abundance is on our dinner table constantly and happiness shines in every corner of our being. I consider people lucky if their light is on or if they know where the switch is and they can turn it on at will.
The great thing about that light is that it can be used in dark times and life is full of dark moments.
As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being
– Carl Jung
The best time to find the switch and turn the light on is during childhood, long before the dark ages of our conditioned adulthood, long before we think of ourselves as frustrated and unable. This requires parents to dedicate much of their energy to finding that switch.
Many parents search for the switch. Sending kids to school is considered by most part of the switch search. All the parents hope that their kids love to learn, that they are very smart and talented and that they will do well at school. Most of them think that academic success will guarantee their kids’ success in life. Unfortunately, and it is not an easy thing for me to say, this is just not true, because many school experiences are obstacles to switch discovery.
Talents and gifts only work when the brain is free and open. The whole concept of the Be Happy in LIFE program or the Garden of Eden program (an early childhood excellence program I wrote based on emotional intelligence) is that when the brain is in the right balance of emotion, everything is in flow and instead of teaching, the student learns. In coaching, as in teaching, the success rate of the clients/students is not dependent on the coach/teacher (who should apply equally high skill in every session/class) but on the ability of the client/student to learn and evolve.
The ability to learn depends on how open and free the brain is. It depends on the state of the brain. If the brain is buzzlingly busy (i.e. stressed), nothing goes in. When the brain is in flow, everything goes in. This is why in my Garden of Eden program, we brought very young kids to such a state they could learn from the molecules in the air.
School is not a free and open space for children. It is a very demanding place that believes that all children have three switches in their brain. If you want to know which switches these are, look at the report card. In schools, the system is using the teachers (I should say abusing the teachers) to turn on the compliance switch, the math switch and the English switch. For over 12 years, they write reports to themselves to note whether they have been successful in turning those three switches on.
Many of my clients cannot answer this simple question: “If you could do anything, without any limitation of time and money, what would you do?” Some of them say, “I’m not good at anything” (can you believe this?). Others say, “I don’t know what I want to do”. This is very sad, because they think they have no light inside of them at all.
Working with children is much easier, because children are very open to this search. They think that trying different things until they discover what turns them on is part of life. Apart from going to school to turn on their social switch (because it cannot be turned on at home, regardless of the home-schooling program used), I send my kids to other activities until they find the thing that makes their face light up. It may not be that thing they will do all their life, but at least they can use it in dark times to feel good.
It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light
– Aristotle Onassis
I discovered writing at the age of 14. I wrote poetry and stories and could not wait for the end of the day at school to get back home to my writing. Tsoof was exactly the same when he wrote music. He would write it during school holidays. When all the other kids wanted to have fun, he wanted to sit on his piano or play his guitar and write music. He was so excited, he did not want to go to sleep. This is usually my sign that something in his mind is switched on. When Noff, who is 11 years old, did her claymation video clip (which was a school assignment)m she got up at 6am to edit photos and make clay creatures. One day, she asked me to come pick her up earlier so she could come home and do some more work on her clay animation. She only had to wait 2-3 minutes less at the pickup area at the end of the day, but she so wanted to be home so much she wanted us to be there 2-3 minutes earlier so she would not have to wait for us.
This spark is something we should all have. Think of this as operating on energy, on a battery of motivation. When we are motivated, we can keep the light on, but when we are not, even if we know where the switch is, there will be no light.
Everyone has a mechanism to find that switch using a compass we have called “feelings”. When we feel great, when we are motivated and excited, it is usually a sign that we are in flow and around the switch area. If things are too hard, if they cause us frustration and anger, resentment and a desire to avoid them, it is a very simple sign that this will not bring us lots of light, at least not in that way.
The Discovery Channel
In the Be Happy in LIFE coaching program, every client, adult or child, starts a journey of discovery to find out their light switch. I say that I help them turn on the discovery channel. As an educator and coach for over 25 years, I have practiced switch search a lot, so I am very good at helping people find it. In the parenting workshops, I share with parents the tools for finding their children’s gifts and talents, as well as their own, so they can do it themselves.
More on how to raise gifted children next week.
Until then, may the light shine on you!
This post is part of the series How to Raise Gifted Children:
- How to Raise Gifted Children: Let there be light
- How to Raise Gifted Children: Find the switch
- How to Raise Gifted Children: Switch-Finding Rules
- How to Raise Gifted Children: With Art