Letting kids be kids

Long gone are the carefree days of childhood. There are waiting lists and test just to get into a preschool. Many families have both parents working and day cares and preschools are a must. These facilities often require that the parents pay in advance and the child is prepared for the program. Even toddlers are being pushed to be prepared.

In general children have a strong desire to please. They really do want to do what is being asked, at least in the beginning. It is very frustrating for them if they can not complete a task to the required specifications.

What is a parent to do? The key is to bring some balance back into the life of being a child. Pushing a child too hard to be motivated and excel, physically, emotionally and academically may cause some negative results. Not giving the child enough incentive and guidance can be devastating as well. The magic lies fully in the inbetween.

Review how you evaluate progress

The way parents evaluate progress should be different and new for each child and each experience. Before you resist the thought please review this very real experience.

The second child in the family was not talking as early as the first. The parents went from worried to frantic in no time at all. They were constantly questioning him “What’s this?” “What’s that?” He would smile and point and nod in agreement or disagreement if they labeled the object or picture. He would smile, point, nod his head and be his happy little self. His brother, about two years older than him would shout “It’s a ball.”

Finally a grandmother intervened. “Why don’t you take him to the doctor and make sure he does not have a hearing problem. If that is fine maybe you can spend some one on one time with him and stop requesting that he talk. Perhaps without his brother there he may find something to say.” His ears were fine and now his parents just want him to stop talking all the time.

Winning and losing

As parents cheer from the sideline and push children to excel, it is important to remember that learning how to accept losing and winning is one of the main reasons for participating in competitive activities. Parents should not point out the faults of other participants, berate coaches or officials and become overly emotional. The ultimate for the child should be to give all he/she can and have fun. Some days, just like parents, children can give more than others.

Respect a child’s personal choices

A parent should encourage kids to participate in a variety of activities. It is important to encourage children to give new things a try. If they try it and decide they really have no interest, respect their decision. There are many things a child must do just to get through school. Activities should be included and in one the child enjoys.

Value down time

Kids need down time, rest and sleep. Down time is not in front of a television or computer. It is quiet time with no electronic equipment. It could even be a nap.

As with most things in life, a constructive balance is the key to success. Be supportive and encourage your children to do their personal best and have fun.