Don't Tell Children What They Should See

Years and years ago I remember reading an article with a title such as “don’t tell children what they should see, ask them what they do see”.  It has always stayed with me, and our recent experience on a bus reminded me just how important it is.

Back story.  My 5 year old has been very interested in knowing more about the “jaws of life” that fire fighters use since she first heard about them.

When we were on a bus one day, I noticed that there was an advertisement for the Justice Institute showing Fire Fighters using the jaws of life (picture is below, although not too good as it was taken by my poor quality phone camera on a moving bus!).   I suggested to her that she had a look at the picture, then asked her what she could see.

I was expecting this conversation to lead into one about the jaws of life.

Instead all she kept saying was “why aren’t the Fire Fighters putting out the fire?”  I was about to start trying to explain that there was no fire, because it was a car crash and instead they were using the jaws of life to cut open the car that was mangled in the crash. 

I took a moment to look at the picture again, and realised that she was seeing a fire.  The red car in the background has smoke coming out of the window.  There was actually a car on fire in the picture and no fire fighters were responding.

I assume the scene was from a training centre and staged for the photo but everyone was so concerned about the Fire Fighters being pictured with the jaws of life for the photo in the foreground, that they missed the fact that a car with smoke coming out the window was in the background …… but my 5 year old daughter did not miss it.

It’s interesting what you see, when you don’t look at what you think you are meant to be looking at.

I'm so grateful for this reminder, to listen, be it to my children tell me what they see, or an EFT client share their feelings and experience of an event.