Whenever I work with children my ultimate goal is to have a positive impact on their lives. Recently I challenged myself to think about what it actually takes to achieve that.
I was interested to find out if there was a process involved and if I could identify the different stages. I knew if I could do this, it would become more tangible for me and easier to explain to others.
What I discovered were three clearly identifiable stages that I was using to help me reach a point where I was having a positive, long lasting impact on a child.
Here are the three stages...
Stage 1- ENGAGE
Stage 2- CONNECT
Stage 3- IMPACT
When I identified the three stages, I came up with what I think is a great analogy to help clearly explain the process. What came to mind was the analogy of a professional boxer.
The ultimate goal of a boxer is to knock their opponent down for the count. In order to achieve this they have to impact their opponent, i.e. punch them hard enough and often enough that they go down and stay down.
In order to impact, the boxer has to connect with their opponent. The effectiveness of the impact is a direct result of the level of connection that is made.
Before any connection can be made, the boxer has to engage with their opponent. In boxing terms this means getting in the ring with the other boxer, then getting in close enough to throw and land a punch.
So for a boxer, they engage in order to connect and connect in order to impact. Without engaging, they can’t connect and without connecting they can’t impact.
It is exactly the same for me when I work with kids.
Step number 1 is to Engage.
I work with groups of 3 to 5 year old children a lot. My number 1 tip for engaging with 3 to 5 year old children is to get down on one knee so your eyes are at the same height as theirs. It’s a simple strategy, but it works wonders. Aside from that, engaging is essentially playing, talking and interacting with a child at a level they can relate to.
Step number 2 is to Connect.
How do you connect? By engaging... As you play, talk and interact with a child, you will begin to connect naturally. The more you play, talk and interact with a child, the greater the connection that develops.
How do you know you are connecting? Three simple signs of connecting are...
1) A child will feel comfortable around you.
2) A child will feel confident around you.
3) A child will converse with you.
Interestingly, research shows that a child’s sense of wellbeing and belonging in a group setting stems from how connected they feel to others in that group. So helping every child feel connected in a group setting is vitally important. You can facilitate that by the way you interact with them.
Step number 3 is to Impact.
With connection comes the opportunity
to impact. The greater and more sustained the connection, the greater the impact. Impact is powerful. A positive impact can leave a memory that lasts a lifetime.
When I was around 8 to 9 years of age there was a man by the name of David Milburn who used to come and kick a football with me in the street where we both lived. From memory we used to kick the footy maybe once or twice a week for 10 minutes or so.
I haven’t seen David since 1979 and he may have forgotten about me and the kicking sessions. I have never forgotten about it thought. The fact that he took the time to come and kick a football with me will remain etched in my memory for the rest of my life.
Such is the power of the impact an adult can have on a child.
Positively impacting the life of a child isn’t hard and doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. All you have to do is...
1) Find something they like doing.
2) Spend time doing it with them.
3) If the opportunity is there, do it regularly.
I can guarantee you it’s worth the investment. You will change a life forever.
I want to close with a short poem and a quote that sum up the simplicity and value of impacting a child.
Firstly the poem...
The Gift Of Time
Of all the gifts to give a child
There’s one by far that’s prime
Its value is much more than gold
It is the gift of time
© Ian McIntosh 2018
Now the quote...
“One of the greatest compliments you can ever receive in life is that not only does a child like you; they actually want to grow up to be like you.”
© Ian McIntosh 2018
Engage, connect, impact and enjoy the privilege of making a positive difference in a child’s life that could last a lifetime.
© Ian McIntosh 2018