Teaching Kids about Variety

Introducing variety to your kids will broaden their world and expose them to their own personality cookbook. The last thing that I wanted for my children was for them to be clones of myself or my wife. I wanted them to have their own recipe for what makes them unique. The best way for them to understand the spices of life is to experience them. So what are the spices of life? Am I talking about living in a manner that throws caution to the wind? The answer to that is no. However, fun and experience can be somewhat adventurous.

For your kids, let’s start with the senses. What they see, hear, smell, taste, and feel are paramount to their development. It is important that we introduce them to experiences that can mold them as individuals. For my family, this started with taste. You don’t have to venture much further than your grocery store to find new food and taste ideas. It can be a lot of fun to shop and cook together something new. I have found that it is a very healthy thing to switch up the diet and not stay with the same thing all the time.

Take time to go to places that are new. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. One thing that my wife and I wanted to do was to travel. However, when money is limited, you can always bring the world and even a time capsule to you by visiting museums. Being able to see history and creations from all over the world are amazing learning experiences for your kids. Take the time to ask them what they like. Ask them to explain why they appreciate a specific exhibit or piece of art. Don’t tell them what is good or not. Don’t express to them what art is or is not according to you. Tell them what you like if they ask. Express to them how awesome it was to see those pieces or exhibits with them. Applaud their interpretations, insight, and imagination.

Music is another element that needs to be experienced. This is where I have seen most parents struggle. We have our own tastes and many of us like to stay in this comfort zone. However, music is art whether you interpret it as such or not. For me, I appreciate many forms of music and try to keep my own listening spectrum as broad as possible. This to me is also like food. I don’t want to be a meat and potatoes man. I want to have different experiences that feed the mind and soul. Your kids may find other forms of music that they connect to. I DO NOT condone dismissing this experience to chance but suggest that you listen with them and discuss. Just as there are unhealthy diets, there are unhealthy messages that need to be monitored. Do your best to discern from content and taste.

Take your family’s entertainment away from the norm when possible. Walks, picnics, parks, plays, concerts, community events, church events, and many other activities will widen their perspective of the world around them. When possible, get them away from the “screen”. Encourage interaction with nature and other people. One thing that I use to do was to make a fire. We lived in the city, but I bought a small portable fire pit that we could use to roast hotdogs, smores, or just watch the fire. My kids would invite friends over. Believe it or not, this was a best seller in the entertainment area. Obviously it is more fun when it is cooler outside, but not mandatory. This was a great time to just “be” with my kids, their friends, my wife, and our friends. If you ever want to host an informal dinner party, make a fire. It is awesome and encourages conversation.

Activities that encourage human interaction, imagination, debate, and learning are awesome at providing your kids with the spices that will be their “dish” in life. Take time to discover the little things that others may fail to see or experience. The other day, we had our first cool front of the season. This came with rain, a breeze, and an obvious clothing change. I opened the garage door, sat outside, and listened to the most beautiful symphony. As I was covered by the garage, I could get close enough to the rain without getting wet, hearing the rain, wind, wind chimes, and birds. I was taken back to the times when my kids were young and the profound moments we experienced entranced in our own entertainment.

The last point is one that I personally would have wanted to do better at. When my kids were young, I did not have a passion for reading as I do today. I wish I would have encouraged reading more than I did. My daughter naturally gravitated towards books, but my boys and I were deficient. I used to think that life was all about doing. To my ignorance, I did not realize how much of a world that books could open up for me. I would have encouraged them to read, to read to me, and evaluate literary works. Bravo to you who are already doing this. You won’t regret it.

Take the time to introduce variety to your kids. Be a part of expanding their world and helping to find the spices that will form them into amazing individuals instead of part of the common crowd. Learn and experience together. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon 

Get your copy of my book “Surviving the Smiles”

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