Let your kids explore

The new parenting mantra seems to be “never keep your kids idle”. There is always a constant need to engage kids. One occupational therapist told me “Never let kids be idle in their own world; if nothing, keep talking to them.”

Children today go to school, have classes back-to-back, go play and then they fall straight to bed. Weekends are also packed with activities because parents get time only on the weekends to be with their kids. What are we losing in the process?

We are stifling the creativity of the child and child’s power of observation. This happened recently in my life. I was picking up my daughter from playschool and I was on a mission to get her home fast, bathe her, feed her and put her down for her afternoon nap. She noticed a bunch of horses grazing in a nearby field and she stopped to look at them. She noticed how they were gazing and how they bent their necks to eat the grass. And during the whole time she was narrating to me all that she was observing. She was filled with a sense of wonder and amazement and wanted to look at them for some time. I, being in a hurry, pulled her away tactfully and went about with our routine. Later when I sat down to think about it I realized the mistake I had made. I didn’t let her observe and I didn’t let her explore.

Give your children the gift of free play
Give your children the gift of free play

In our routine life that is time bound, we are always pulling our kids to do different things. Oh it’s time for school, it’s time for lunch, or it’s time for this class! In this process we don’t let them pause. Getting bored is a vital part of growing up. Only if you get bored you will get creative. If the kids are always used to one distraction or the other, they will never be able to sit just by themselves. This, I feel, is one of the reasons for developing attention deficit disorders (ADHD). When all the activity gets exhausted and they have nothing to do, they end up watching TV or playing video games. This is a constant source of activity that never ends unless they put an end to it.

Time is not a concept that nature understands, it is some thing that we have created. Nature has cycles but is not strictly time bound. When we are in a constant state of hurry, and pull our kids as well in the process, we are never letting them finish what they want to do. One day my daughter wanted to go late for school because she wanted to finish what she was building, and I let her. We as parents should be more conscious about giving them free play where they are not bound by rules, people or time-table. Do not guide them or instruct them. Let them open their creativity and do what they want and if they are stuck they will come to you. Let them pause and explore the world around, let them wander around in their own sense of time, and let them choose what they want to do rather than imposing everything on them. Treat children as tiny adults and you will see them blossoming into a beautiful, creative and self-content human being.

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