It’s so easy for kids to get comfortable inside their own bubble. After all, as parents, we first introduce them into our own bubbles. If you want to be real here, they began in a bubble inside of their mother, so it’s no wonder they find comfort in bubbles! Nonetheless, we enroll them in daycares we know based off recommendations from people in our bubbles. Or, if we are lucky enough to be stay-at-home moms, we socialize them within our own circles with other moms and kids we know.
For example, I have three children. For a while, I had them at my home just with me, and we were new to our town with no bubble at all. As soon as they were pre-school age, I enrolled them into a local daycare for learning and play. It was only a few miles from home and included many children from our community or neighboring communities. That’s what we do and that’s ok. They made friends and flourished to move onto Kindergarten in our community school system. Luckily, they had some friends there from Pre-K.
As they moved through the elementary years, they interacted with the same 125 kids each year all the way through 8th grade. Sure, they met other children along the way, but they all found their niche and coinciding label. My son is the quiet gamer, my daughter is genius dancer and my eldest was too shy to show anyone who she was. That brings me to my next point.
Now that my eldest is in high school, she is interacting with 9-12th grade kids from three other towns. Her bubble got bigger. No longer the shy quiet girl, she has found a voice through music and has come out of her shell and found her voice. Her label disappeared when she got a fresh start and she was confident enough to begin to express who we knew she was all along. The best part: in high school her bubble bumps into and mixes with other bubbles and multiplies. Surely, you know what I mean. Have you ever blown a bubble only to see it attached to many other bubbles and become one? https://youtu.be/MGTsBKXlCI4
Isn’t that the goal? Isn’t it a wonder to see the unique beauty in all the bubbles around us? We can bump into each other, group up or even fly away. In fact, the only thing that causes a bubble to burst is when it dries up. Bubbles need certain conditions to grow and flourish.
What happens to kids if they stay in their own bubble? Perhaps that bubble is actually a label like the ones attached to my kids above. Sometimes kids feel fear, awkwardness or anxiety in new social situations – especially in friend-making. Perhaps they are introverted by nature or have had one or many bad experiences that make them withdraw into their own bubble. Or, life itself could make it difficult to find time or opportunities to introduce children to new people and experiences.
Finding a safe and fun way to meet new people is a challenge for many families. Outside of school, there are limited places and time to meet new people. Church, community activities and school activities are a good start, but they are also likely inside your bubble. Ideally kids need a label-free place to try out the different parts of themselves. Perhaps their current bubble is running out of space for them to grow and it is time to try new things.
After all, there are benefits from getting to know those who are different from you. It challenges the status quo of what you think, how you act and ultimately who you are. So, my quiet gamer son, who also happens to be built like a football player, could try sports and add something new to his identity. My genius dancer might find that being in front of people is really all about her comfort as a leader and work her way into debate club. Or my musical high schooler is actually a very talented musician who has been too afraid to perform for her introverted group of friends. They will never know unless they come out of their bubbles.
Let’s kick this up a notch to ideas and belief systems. If children spend their entire lives hearing the same ideas and beliefs over and over, we disadvantage them from competing in what is now an undeniably global world. Single-mindedness closes doors on more than just our fellow man, it closes job opportunities and being a contributing part of society at large. Getting outside of your bubble exposes you to new things. It challenges the status quo inside of ourselves and in the world. Don’t we want future leaders who can look at the needs of all humankind so that we may leave this world better for our grandchildren and so on?
The easiest way to start fresh is to…start fresh. Try new things. Look for new bubbles to meet and join. Do you think science isn’t your child’s thing because of a bad grade this year. Think again? Try a STEM class – JUST FOR FUN! The same goes for art. Johnny doesn’t think he’s Van Gogh no matter how much he’s tried. WHO CARES! Art is supposed to make YOU happy – not grades or money. Want Jenny to see new things? There’s nothing like a field trip with new friends and a new set of eyes to see things in fresh light. The point is that no matter what bubble your child has been living in by choice or circumstance, it does not need to be that way. Options exist to try new things.
Our bubbles are indeed comfy and cozy. However, the best part is watching the bubble grow…burst…and then form anew. The more bubbles the merrier. After all, what child ever loved just one bubble? Don’t they always ask for more?