Professionals will tell us that the formative years of a child’s life is the first seven. Most of us, I think, would agree. After all, it is during this time that a child develops their character and beliefs. It is an essential time in life, where a child’s character or personality is formed, shaping that person for the rest of their life. By the age of seven a child is psychologically ready to embrace the world, and the situations and events that come with it, without the need to cling to mom, dad, or a caregiver, for comfort. So it should come as no surprise, then, that the emphasis is on parenting, and not teaching, during this time. Because what we do as parents during this period is to allow this process to unfold, easing the child into the world so that they can stand on their own, with confidence, and having the knowledge to do so.
“We are being programmed for our first seven years,” says Dr. Bruce Lipton, a biologist, the founder of epigenetics, and the owner of the University of Hawaii. “95% of the results in our life come from that programming of the unconscious.”
When a child is born, continues Dr. Lipton, it is as if you have purchased a new iPod. It is still empty, just waiting to be filled with music. During the first seven years of a child’s life you upload music, sifting and sorting and filling up the iPod’s memory. When those seven years are complete, the iPod memory is full and whatever music has been uploaded will repeat itself, on play mode, throughout the person’s life.
The fact of the matter, says Dr. Lipton, is that the child’s conscious mind is not primarily active in their first seven years. If it were, a child could say (upon hearing a piece of information): “no, I don’t want that one.” The child would understand that they are receiving a bad upload, music that is not suitable. The reality, though, is that the child has no real conscious awareness of what is being uploaded. They just take it on board. The iPod continues to fill.
Imagine for a moment that a child is born with the ability to speak. It arrives, fresh and inquisitive, and we all greet it with cries of: “oh wow! Welcome to the world! Do you have anything you want to tell us?” The child, and quite rightly so, would likely just look around and say: “Like what? I don’t know anything. I just got here!”
So the point is this: in order to bring a child into the community it needs – just like the iPod – to be filled. They need programming. They require information. And unlike the iPod, we can’t just plug a child into something and hit Enter. No, the child learns from observing other people, especially their parents. Next they get information from their siblings, and then from the community around them. So where exactly are they downloading information from? Well, from other people.
And I have to pause and wonder: why is that relevant? Because we don’t only download good behaviour. We download bad behaviour too. The programs that we download in the first seven years of our lives are a guide. That guide must be there so that, when our consciousness kicks in at age seven, we have something to work with. If there are no programs in the subconscious then the conscious mind has nothing to draw on: no system of ethics and morals, no code of conduct, no way of saying: “this is right and this is wrong.”
I have seen this in my own life, as I raise my child through these formative years. Children are established by the time they reach the age of seven. For some it is a little earlier and for some a little later but the result is the same: it is quite literally the time by which your personality is shaped. It is the time by which they have learned about social and criminal boundaries, about empathy and appropriate behaviour.
This, then, is my story. I have decided to share my experience on the matter. Since becoming a mother I have taken this very seriously. I have carefully weighed the downloads we received and selected the music.
In Part 2 I pour out to you what I did, and how, and why. Because I firmly believe that in the first seven years of a child’s life, we do not teach: we parent.