We are a sum total of our upbringing, our environment and our choices. I have realised the magnitude of the effect all these ingredients have on me, only when I became a parent myself.
Here are some 10 things I have consciously done in the hope & belief that it will give my kids a good environment.
1. Don’t pre-empt everything for her or let her experience new surroundings, new textures, new everything. How many times do you say ‘No, this is not good for you’, ‘No, you’ll hurt yourself’, within the limits of sensibility, (you have to be dense if you let your toddler to injure herself with a knife to learn its sharp), how many times do we let our kids foray on their own. I am guilty of this, and have starting checking myself before I stop my child every time. She’s a child, and she WILL NOT be as sensible as someone 10 times her age, so why do I want her to have my wisdom? She’s a child. Let her learn by finding out. Trust me, kids are in no rush to grow up, we are.
2. Let her fall. Don’t rush to catch her to avoid a fall. A grazed knee is a small price to pay for the loads of confidence and experience that she will gain from falling. By letting her fall, and letting her pick herself up, you are giving her & yourself (very important) the confidence that she is capable of navigating & taking in her stride the challenges she is encountering. After falling once & hurting herself, you will be surprised at how careful she becomes. You don’t have to hover around her all the time with worry. As a parent I know I can’t & won’t be around her all the time protecting her. So I want her to at least learn these basics in my presence.
3. Encourage curiosity- Show pleasure when they ask a question while reading a book or watching the TV, or anything that catches their fancy. This single trait will take them far, when they are writing entrance exams and are judged on their thinking-out-of-the-box capability.
4. Teach them to question authority, in a respectful manner. I know that’s walking a thin line, but don’t we want to raise kids who are confident and not afraid to call a spade a spade. But this is a tricky one, since a child who has been raise to be fearless & righteous, will keep everyone around her to follow the same values that she has been asked to live with 🙂 . Very often my daughter reminds my husband mid-sentence that he is not doing something right, or, objects if she is talking to someone & I interject, reminding me that its rude to interrupt when two people are talking 🙂 .
5. Let them participate in decision making- Small decisions like whether she would prefer to watch TV, or do craft, or help me in the kitchen (that’s what she calls it 🙂 ) let them know the meaning of choices & slowly help them connect the dots that with a decision comes the responsibility of actions & repercussions. Let her make a decision and teach her the value of choices, and the fact that you trust her.
6. Ask questions & see how they open up. They have a valid explanation for everything they observe, and you will be amazed at their creativity.
7. Don’t limit her. Make her believe she is the best. Stop before you say she can’t do it, she’s too small. Instead tell her that it requires her to be a little taller/ little stronger…… Don’t ever tell her she can’t be something. Children are born confident, we rob them off it, a little each time we tell them they can’t do something. Didn’t we all start out wanting to be fighter pilots, racing car drivers & wildlife photographer before we succumbed to the conventional career choices 🙂 .
8. Don’t pass on your prejudices to her. I have built my likes & dislikes over these years, and for some reason. Lizards & creepy crawly insects make me uncomfortable. But other than the basic of what’s dangerous & hazardous, I want my kids to decide what they like & what they don’t independent of me. May it be cuisine, career choices, sports & everything.
9. Older is not always right. Just because I or someone older is saying something doesn’t make it right. Have the grace to accept & apologise when wrong. It will set an example that elders & anyone can make a mistake.
10. Mischief & misbehaving are two different things. Everything is allowed so long as it is mischief and fun, that’s what separates a child from an adult, BUT, bad behaviour should not be tolerated. Personally, I feel, 3-3.5 yrs is the age when a child should be made to understand and respects boundaries. This is the age when their social interactions increases, they get exposed to their peers & many older people at pre-school, and this demarcation is essential. But enforced any earlier, and it affects their self confidence.