What I Learned by Watching Cinderella

Turns out, teaching kids to be nice people is not so complicated.

Ok, why is a seventy-something man character like me watching a romantic film about a mistreated teenager?

I would like to say there was some higher motive, but I have to admit, it was more to do with lockdown and boredom, a bottle of red, and a roaring wood fire on a cold day.

Well, that’s how it started out. It finished though, in a revelation!

Please bear with me while I explain?

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It’s all to do with our first seven years.

Give me a child for 7 years and I’ll give you the man.

Aristotle

You see, I’ve been teaching people to communicate for several decades, mostly for business purposes. However, effective communication in business relies on the same practises as personal and I use situations and examples from both to make my points.

A communication strategy used with those you love can be just as effective with those you lead, for example.

A major centric for both, of course, is attitude. The way we treat others and communicate with them relies heavily on the kind of person we are. ‘Nice’ people are more likely to be mindful of others and their feelings and will be careful and considerate in their interactions.

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Where does our attitude come from?

Largely, our attitudes are developed experientially, along with our core beliefs and behaviours.

The foundation for our attitude, actions and character are laid during our first few years of life, the period said to be the most crucial in our development.

It’s the connection with this aspect of our development that struck me whilst watching Cinderella.

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Whichever incarnation of the story you happen to read or watch, the premise of the story is the same:

Cinderella is living happily with her mother and father, tender-hearted parents who treated each other, and Cinderella with love and kindness. Her mother, unfortunately, falls ill and dies. Cinderella’s father remarries a cold, cruel woman who has two daughters, Drizella and Anastasia.

When, shortly after, her father dies, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother takes to treating her as a servant, forcing her to be at the beck and call of her and her wicked daughters. All are rude and cruel to Cinderella and she is forced to live in a cold and unhomely tower, away from the luxury enjoyed by her tormenters.

However, she continues to treat everyone with kindness and consideration, even her stepfamily.

For the purpose of my story, I’m going to stop short of the fairy godmother, pumpkin coaches and glass slipper happy ending, and concentrate on what happened up to that point.

Let’s consider the main characters? Cinderella, her parents, the stepmother and her daughters.

 

The blueprint for our core beliefs.

I like Dr Bruce Lipton’s explanation of those first years, that they are used to program the brain with fundamental knowledge. In this period, everything we experience, in any way, is simply recorded and downloaded into the brain, before the consciousness of the child is made apparent.

This means that the subconscious is loaded without conscious acknowledgement and the ‘knowledge’ is accepted without question or appraisal, to be used as a blueprint for our character and actions, forming our core beliefs.

Children do and say what they see and hear!

By their examples and actions, Cinderella’s parents created a warm, loving and considerate person. By her example and actions, Cinderella’s stepmother created two mean spirited, cruel and repugnant people.

It’s clear the difference between the children is directly comparable to those of the parents, is it not?

Ok, I know that we are talking fairy tales and dramatisation here, but don’t we see this example played out in everyday life? Don’t we see the parents in their children, all the time?

And don’t we pray we are not teaching our worst character traits and attitudes to our children — by default?

I’ll leave you with this question. How do we create nice, loving and thoughtful children?

One way is to concentrate on all that is good around you and appreciate everything in your life that you love. This will help you release your stress and become happy, and by default, pass this on to your children and those around you.

Footnote:

Although most of us know Cinderella as simply a fairy tale, brought into wonderful technicolour by Walt Disney, the story was written by Charles Perrault in the 17th century and loosely relates to the history of Rhodopis, a Greek woman, whose name means “rosy-cheeked.”

It is thought that fairy tales were often used as a form of ‘story learning’ to teach children to avoid life's challenges.

 
 
 

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