You may have heard of a scientific theory called "The Butterfly Effect". The idea, which comes from chaos theory, is the idea that small changes or instances can result in large differences at a later point in time. The theory's name comes from the metaphorical example of a small butterfly flapping its wings in a certain way leading to the formation and path of a tornado at some point in the future.
Even if this example seems a bit silly, it is certainly true that small acts can have a big impact. Just like a tiny pebble thrown in a pond can have big ripples, our actions, no matter how small, can influence people in many different ways. The question we must ask ourselves is are our actions having an impact on people in a positive or negative way?
In a world where Instagram and YouTube have created entire platforms for famed "influencers", it is easy to feel like our tiny actions don't impact other people. But, every single person in the world has influence. It doesn't matter if you're small or big, rich or poor, old or young. We all have the ability to change the world. A small act of kindness to a stranger could change the course of their entire day. Making a stranger smile may not seem like you're making a big impact on the world, but for that person, you might have made all the difference.
We must teach our children to "brace for impact". By this, I mean that we must teach them to always prepare and be aware of how they can influence the world and people around them. There are two positives to this. First, it helps boost their confidence. It helps them to realize that they are not insignificant, but that their words and actions matter. This can be empowering to a young child who may not feel like they have a voice. They do and it is a powerful one.
Secondly, by pointing this out, it helps children take ownership of their actions. By pointing out how a child's actions impacted another person, it helps them realize the weight of their choices. However, we must be careful not to only point out the negative. If we only point out how Johnny is teaching his brother to climb on the counters and not the moments when he is a good role model for his sibling, then Johnny is not going to learn to feel the joy of his influence and will develop a negative view of himself.
Don't get me wrong, we absolutely have to point out to our children when they make mistakes and offer correction. I just want to note that it is also important to put a spotlight on their victories and successes.
As we go into the holiday season this week, let's remember that we have the power to change people's lives in a positive way. We need to prepare ourselves to have an impact on the world. We must remember that there is always someone watching us and learning from our choices, positive or negative. Let's use our platform for good. And remember that everyone has a platform to use. Even if it only impacts the life of one person, to that one person, you've impacted their entire life.
About the Author
Master Matthew Eyler is a 5th degree black belt in the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do and a New York State certified general and special education teacher. He has over 20 years experience practicing self-defense and teaching students of all ages and abilities.