Childhood is a phase that most of us would love to get back. The fun, joy, happiness, and carefree attitudes, need I go on? The best part is that we never learned anything systematically or logically for years. Unfortunately, today’s kids are being battered with so many schedules, classes, and events. I feel overwhelmed as an adult and also sorry for the children. Trust me. I am not saying we were given a run-of-the-mill and allowed to ride wild. However, we had a chance to play and have some fun, even when mummy and daddy were busy or occupied. If we compare three generations, I am sure we will begin to see a stark difference in the approach taken to how children are being brought up.
I recall spending time with my dad and his siblings growing up, especially during our holidays. They would regale us with stories of their childhoods. I fondly remember tales of adventure, some true, few a little exaggerated. Stories of mud being eaten, rivers being conquered, snakes chased, trees climbed, limbs hurt or broken, you get the gist. All these surprisingly and little terrifying experiences, but they all had one thing in common. They were all fun experiences, learning experiences, and, most of all, being with a gang of sorts. This is from the ’50s and ’60s. Cut to the ’80s and ’90s. If not double the madness, we may be half the crazy things our parents did. They were playing mud, chasing lizards with sticks, and playing football, where 200 of us played on no teams: mud-covered uniforms, book bags with fountain pens in spills. A time when going to school meant unlimited fun because our besties were there. There was no internet or a million-channel cable TV yet. These were fun days, with no math clubs, karate, or hectic schedules. I mean, kids were kids. Doing things only kids could do. Get in trouble for eating tons of candy, bunk classes, play silly invented games. I am sure you all have fond memories of similar experiences. And if I am not wrong, you took a few moments with a quick flashback of the good old days!
My heart breaks, though, when I see the kids of today. I have nieces, nephews, my kid, and friends’ kids exposed to the internet, mobiles, and too much technology. Kids with so many extracurricular programs can make a CEO blush. I often wonder why we as adults forget what it meant to be a child. A recent experience from a child development program left me in near tears when I saw what children had to go through. Extra Math and writing classes, Judo, Kung Fu, Ballet, Piano recitals, Violin classes, poor kids being overwhelmed with so much that you saw their childhood fade before their eyes. At the same time, they lived their parent’s dream. Having a vision for our kids to live their best lives is not unhealthy. But it is not fair to dump unwanted schedules and programs on their little heads expecting the next Indian Idol or Rocket Scientist from your little one.
Do your kids have downtime? Reading time? Time to play and do nothing important? Maybe even do some household chores and get some rewards? Anything that will not bog them down with a tight jam-packed schedule? If you say yes to all the above, I will tip my hat off to you! But if not, please start giving them breaks and time to be kids.
Simple things to do to avoid the trap of overburdening your child:
1. Remember your childhood. If you have had a relaxed one or not, allow your kids to have one too. If not, it will enable them to have one still.
2. Do not live your dreams through your child. Let them find themselves. Give them opportunities, no doubt.
3. Encourage them to discover themselves.
4. Be patient. Rome was not built in a single day. As a mentor of mine always says, it was built over several days.
5. Replace the screen time with books, playtime, fun games, and a family outing.
It is promising to allow children to live out their childhood learning skills and behaviours that will help them in the future. Of course, additional skills like music, dance, etc, are good too but in moderation and not as if their lives depended on it.
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