I grew up as a latch-key kid. In first grade, I was walking home from school by myself, letting myself into my house, and making my own snack while waiting for my mom to come home from work.
Back in the 80s, being street smart was a huge deal, and looking back, it makes sense that we kids prized street smarts above all else; we were latch-key kids.
The number one rule we had, was to trust our guts. Because most of the time, our gut instincts were right.
One time, I was riding my bike around the block, and I had to go by this one house that scared every kid on my side of town. The family who lived there was very rough around the edges; the eldest boy, a few grades above me, liked to shoot pigeons and rodents with his BB gun.
I turned the corner and saw him standing with his gun slung over his shoulder in front of his house. I stopped by bike a few houses away and pondered what to do. I was afraid he would try to shoot my tires like the kids at school warned me could happen.
But I also thought that maybe those were just made-up stories because who would actually do such a thing?
My gut said to turn around and go home the other way, but I didn’t listen, and I kept heading forward and was about to pass his house.
He saw me coming and screamed my name before raising his gun and pointing it at me. I heard a few loud pop sounds, and I felt a sharp sting in my foot — he’d hit me with his BB.
A few years later, he was on the evening news. He’d killed a man in a drug deal gone sour.
I remember watching that news segment and thinking that it was about time someone did something about the neighborhood menace.
As I watch the news this week, I am horrified by a story about a teenage boy who invited a girl for a walk in the woods where he stabbed her 114 times, leaving her dead.
I couldn’t help but wonder if that girl had experienced a few moments of hesitation before she accepted that boy’s invitation to go for a walk, and I wonder if there was a moment when she realized she’d made a mistake and tried to undo it.
My heart breaks for her family.
We need to teach our kids that intuition is a powerful tool that everyone should utilize.
“intuition is a process that gives us the ability to know something directly without analytic reasoning, bridging the gap between the conscious and nonconscious parts of our mind, and also between instinct and reason.”
Intuition is that weird feeling you get when you know someone is lying to you, but you can’t put your finger on how you know.
It’s when you walk into a room where two people have just been fighting, but now they’re acting normal, and yet somehow, you can sense the tension in the air.
It’s when you decide to change your routine one day for no logical reason, and then something extraordinary happens as a result.
Intuition is when your instincts try to talk to your reason.
The brain is logical, but intuition operates using memories, emotions, and desires; it doesn’t make sense, but that is sort of the point.
The problem is that we live in a world that shoves all that unconscious information aside in favor of logic and proof, “receipts,” if you will.
So, how do we retrain our brains to learn how to trust our guts and listen to intuition? How do we teach our kids to do this?
To help your kids get in touch with and learn how to trust their gut instincts; their intuition, there are a few habits you can fold into your daily routine.
1) Teach your kids that emotions are valuable.
Is your child angry? That’s ok! Don’t tell them they shouldn’t feel a certain way, but ask them questions about their feelings and show them ways to manage them in healthy ways.
For example, you could say something like, It’s ok to be angry, but it’s not ok to kick or punch when you get mad. Instead, let’s find a way to help you get that energy out without hurting you or anyone else.
2) Journaling is a beautiful way to teach kids how to engage their feelings and imagination simultaneously.
Using a journal to write and doodle can help kids work out ideas even if those ideas are not much more than a hunch or feeling. The point of this exercise is to give kids a chance to engage with their creativity and emotions in an unrestricted way, regularly, so they know to trust it.
3) Learn how to flip the narrative when your inner critic starts dissing you.
This is tough to teach your kids, but you can do it by modeling how to talk about how any negative situation is a learning opportunity. Remember, how you talk to your kids becomes the voice in their heads as they grow.
For example, say your WiFi keeps blanking out while you’re trying to do some work at home. Instead of letting your frustration get to you, you could say, well, this might be annoying right now, but at least it gets me off this computer for a bit!
Listening to intuition might not have been enough to save that girl from being stabbed in the woods, or maybe it could have; no one will ever know.
But when I stop and think that rarely have my gut feelings been wrong about situations or people, I find one more reason to talk to my kids about why listening to your inner self can keep them safe.