We’re all striving for growth — but is an extreme rise to the top actually causing more harm than good for young childhood stars?
UNICEF has been collecting data for decades to define the markers of what makes a successful child's early childhood development. They've worked internationally with countries to find this data, and have ultimately narrowed it down to 3 main factors:
- the quality of care within a child’s home environment;
- access to early childhood care and education;
- the overall developmental status of children
But what happens when a child, even in the developed world, doesn't experience these three cornerstone markers of successful childhood development? Well, according to UNICEF, they will struggle further in life in many ways, and some may be destructive.
We have watched in the media child start after child star struggle with the law, with substance abuse, and other difficulties that have greatly impacted their personal and interpersonal success in life. And many of these child stars have things in common, like coming from a broken home life, or not feeling that they got the support and mentorship they required from their children.
It is not only children in underdeveloped countries who struggle to get the quality early childhood development that they deserve. In a quest for fame or fortune, first-world children are also falling victim to damaged childhood development due to parents who don't have their priorities in the right order.
There’s a good reason anything of quality takes time to grow. Children are no different.
Children need guidance, but there are still parents who are simply too distracted to provide it. Because raising children is an intentional time investment, and for a child to grow up and thrive, there must be a commitment to the 3 cornerstone markers of early childhood development, as indicated by UNICEF.
Can you imagine how the city of Rome would have ended up structurally, and looked architecturally, if they tried to build that place in a day?
It wouldn’t have gone so well — because quality takes time to grow and build.
Time in itself is not something that is exclusively working against us, and it is certainly not something we should be trying to force away when it comes to raising successful, thriving children. Time can actually provide us with the space we need to refine that which we are creating and send out a better version of it out into the world.
When our work with children grows over time, rather than being dumped in a short and overwhelmingly quick spurt, we have the luxury and opportunity to tweak and finesse the process of growth as it goes along.
The biggest downside to rapid growth is that it happens so fast that we don’t have time to make any adjustments along the way, leaving children left behind and damaged along the way. If there was something within that system that wasn’t working properly, we barely have time to identify it (let alone fix it), and that could very well have dire consequences down the road, if not sabotage the growing process entirely.
Child stars are a glaring example of how damaging rapid growth, and a lack of the key cornerstones of UNICEF, can be.
Working off of the above point, when things are moving too quickly it can affect our ability to finesse and tweak our system before it’s too late, the same can be said about our own personal growth in the process.
Those who grow quickly and don’t take the time to reflect are often the ones who lose control down the road.
These are the people and entrepreneurs who rose to fame quickly, but then crashed and burned dramatically as they didn’t have the time or willingness to slow down and thoughtfully consider their dramatically changing realities.
We see this in child stars all the time. Raised in the spotlight, surrounded by fame and adrenaline, they struggle to have legitimate or meaningful opportunities to reflect on themselves, reflect on their behaviours, and mature as individuals. That’s why we see so many young TV stars and musicians who ended up with crippling addictions and/or found themselves charged with DUIs and other crimes.
Every experience in life gives us the chance to better ourselves as people and practice self-awareness. But when things are moving at a hundred miles a minute, there’s often very little time to catch one’s breath, let alone be thoughtfully contemplative and self-aware within our own growth process.
Growing slowly but surely is a blessing, not a curse. Because it gives us a moment of grace to not have to make decisions out of desperation, but rather make decisions that are well-informed and thoughtfully considered.
Desperation to catch up to rapid and chaotic growth robs us of the opportunity to practice self-reflection.
Slow and steady truly wins the race.
I can’t help but notice that the most successful people in the world were never “overnight sensations”.
The real overnight sensations are often the ones who are easily forgotten. But why is that?
What popular media tends to overlook or fails to recognize is that the people who appear to be overnight sensations, yet are truly successful at their work, have been working towards their “overnight success” for years and decades.
The public doesn’t see the decades of time a successful person puts in before they are publicly recognized for their success. The nights in front of their laptops or on stage in a small bar grinding and hustling and building a solid foundation for themselves and their brand, often at an excruciatingly slow pace.
Because they know and recognize that anything of quality needs to start at the very beginning, and is not built overnight.
To create a truly strong reputation and brand takes time and effort, and repetitive days and nights of hard work, to build something worthwhile and strong.
Those who have grown quickly or reached actual overnight success (from nothing to something) tend to be a brand that doesn’t have a strong leg to stand on. And when their 15 minutes of fame is up, their straw house comes tumbling down on them. When that house comes tumbling down, many of those overnight successes are bound to give up.
Because that’s another thing that rapid growth denies us as people — the opportunity to develop grit, determination, and unshakable work ethic that keeps us committed to moving forward even when we don’t necessarily see the results right away.
Rapid and unsustainable growth does not trump the value of developing quality of character. Quality of character is something you can’t put a price on. And if you haven’t had the opportunity to grow and develop side quality character, you have no real foundation to stand on.
And that is exactly why I do not despise the times in my life when my success means slowly and steadily growing, often slower than I’d like.
I see these experiences as opportunities to better myself as a person, and ultimately set myself up for more valid and credible success down the road.
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