Wednesday, 23 January 2013

What you can learn from a 2 year old

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My eldest daughter is 3 next week. While there are a lot of things I wouldn’t ask Chloe to teach me (eating tidily, toilet usage, pronouncing certain long words), there are two things I’ve recently learnt.

1. It’s Easier to Spot Differences than Similarities

Chloe is not a big fan of change. But she’s great at spotting it. “that’s not where bunny goes”; “we always have one story before I go to bed”; “mummy sits there not you.” 
But I’ve never known her point out the things that are the same, “Bunny’s in the right place.”; “perfect repetition of our story tradition daddy”; “good to see you sitting in the standard place mummy”.

Spotting difference is a very human trait. When I first meet a new person my eyes gravitate to the difference. “They’re taller than me”, “They’re better spoken than me”, “They’re from a different world than me.” Although 99% of all our DNA is the same but our brains seem expertly trained to spot the 1%.

2. Once you Start Playing Together, Differences Fade Away
Chloe makes friends pretty easily. Not for her endless small talk or well-organised dinner parties. She just starts playing. Doctors, hide and seek or just plain running back and forth and screaming. Once they’ve played together they’re friends. And often “best friends”.
Shared playing gets Chloe looking at the 99% of similarity – not the 1% of difference.

So, how do we do the same?

At present, there is little space in society where we easily ‘play’ or interact with people of different ages, incomes and ethnicities. Few places that encourage us to spot the 99%. Unless you’re making an effort, it just doesn’t happen.

And yet we’re surprised that people focus on the 1%.

As Chloe would say that’s “just silly Daddy”. 

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