An article in Forbes (February 2017) describes intuition as “the highest form of intelligence.” And yet, most parents, eager to give the very best to their children, have never mentioned the word to them. Intuition is not something we focus on at home or at school. It is not what we value, encourage, and attribute success to, and intuition has not yet become a key indicator of a child’s future happiness.
I have a son, who recently turned 5 and started kindergarten. His journey has me thinking a lot about what he will learn but, especially, what he won’t be learning. Technology will certainly help his developing mind. But what about the development of his “inner technology”: his heart, his spirit, his emotional life, his ability to navigate change? I wrote a book series for young kids called Giggles and Joy, to help share important life skills and teach both parents and kids how to nurture these.
Nobody can deny the main focus of our education system is above the neck! What’s below the neck seems to always run a distant second place. Most children are told that what matters most is their brain, and “hard” skills. The external world of performance, competition, comparison, and being perfect is an all-too-often driver of rewards, stars, and even love.
I define intuition as “an overall sense of knowing, that goes beyond data or the brain’s ability to recall information and knowledge.” As adults, we have all had moments of “I just knew,” a hunch or gut feeling. And yet, the mind, in all its glory, takes up its position as “best in charge” and makes you trust it more.
Why is intuition important? Because if you ask any adult, some of our biggest moments of suffering have been when we’ve ignored our intuition, after the mind has made its case. We got into the wrong relationship, took the wrong job, didn’t get out of the stock market, or walked right into a dangerous situation… despite a part of us trying to get our attention. But for some reason, we didn’t listen.
Smart people listen to these intuitive feelings together with their mind.
So, why not start teaching this at a young age?
Albert Einstein has been widely quoted as saying, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
So, as a parent or anyone who has the privilege of being around tiny humans, how do we not forget this gift, and talk about intuition to our children?
1) Describe it as an “inner microphone” and explain that it is inside of them, that it’s their best friend, always trying to help give them answers, and it will be with them their whole life.
2) Show them that listening doesn’t only happen with the ears. You can listen with your whole body. Do they feel tight? Do they feel angry or scared? Does their tummy feel off? Tell them that the body always prefers to tell the truth and will let them know when something is not right.
3) That this voice will often speak quietly so they need to really listen and turn the volume up. The mind will always want to be louder and in charge. Both need to be listened to.
4) Teach them about their “inner technology,” especially in a day and age when all the focus is on “external technology” as being all-powerful.
5) Start with small ways for them to see that intuition can be fun. When they lose something, ask them, “Where does your intuition tell you it is?” Ask them how they feel instead of overusing the phrase, “What do you think?”.
6) When they bring up any feelings or insights, always respect them and validate them as real and important. If not, many kids go into self-doubt, confusion in decision-making and are more likely to defer to what other people want.
7) If a child feels something, and says for example, “Mom are you upset?” and you say No, when in fact you are, you are teaching your child not to trust their feelings. Always be honest with children, so that they know what they are sensing is the truth and right. Otherwise, they learn to shut this part of them down.
8) The best way to teach your kids about intuition is to show them how you use it. That it is part of your tool box. As parents and caregivers, how well are you doing with listening to your intuition? Modeling this behavior for our kids is the fastest way for them to want to do the same. Speak about what your intuition is telling you.
Kids start turning off their intuition when only their mind is acknowledged. When homework, grades, and performance are valued. There is no A+ for using intuition. But there should be.
When your child really gets that they too have answers, that even though they are small they can have a real sense of things, you point them to their own Inner guidance system.
Intuitive kids are likely to be:
– Aware of their thoughts and feelings and able to use their head and their heart to make a decision or problem-solve.
– More compassionate towards other people as they can “feel” things.
– Able to process their emotions rather than repressing them.
– Clear on what’s right and wrong, which they can use in the playground, at school and especially online.
– Self-expressed and self-driven, instead of doing what they’re told or how best to fit in.
– Have a better sense of self-worth that comes more from the inside than outside.
Intuition is now being taught in companies, right next to mindfulness. Maybe intuition will become part of school curriculums very soon.
Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.