“My baby is already making meaningful sounds that sound like words at five months old. My toddler has learnt to walk, way before he turned one. My kid knows such and such number of words and sentences, at an age of two. My girl knows all of the alphabets and numbers by three years of age. My girl can write more words than anyone I know of, at age four. My girl/boy/grandson/granddaughter is really ‘fast’.”
Sounds familiar? On one end, we have parents/grandparents bragging and taking pride about how fast/soon their kids/grandkids have not only met their milestones but have also achieved way above what their peers could accomplish. (All these at the age of one, two and three!). On the other end, we have parents worrying and losing sleep over every minutest delay their child has in meeting a particular milestone. While it is good to have an eye on the general physical and mental development of our children, these days, we are going a tad too much by extra-emphasis on each of them. Every child is special and of course, we as parents take pride in even the smallest achievement of theirs but excessive bragging and creating pressure among peers by over emphasizing them socially creates unhealthy competition.
If you think, this is all, the story doesn’t end here. We have another group who feel their kids should achieve more than they “should” for their age and enroll them for a variety of classes and all this before they even start school. The child is supposed to be smart, outgoing, mingle readily with people, be independent at eating, soothe themselves to sleep, be able to fall asleep on their own, speak sentences, be good mannered when meeting strangers for the first time and not feel awkward socially, entertain themselves and it is all the more better if they could sing/dance or in general do something that your friend’s kid cannot. In a nutshell, we are not only putting our children in a race but also expect them to be first in the race.
Kids who are not in the race and normal are labeled ‘average’ and sometimes even deemed to be developmentally delayed. With the advent of various therapy and counseling places of all kinds, we are looking at everything through a magnifying lens.
It is of course, but obvious that we need academics, learning and extracurricular activities. It is nice to teach your child to appreciate music and art, inculcate the habit of reading and writing and to help stay physically active by picking a sport. But, isn’t there an age and time that we should wait for before we actually start all this.
How justified are we in forcing knowledge and learning on children who are barely yet prepared for it?
Why are we in a hurry to mould our kids to be smart-er, better and take pride in calling them quick learners?
We are lucky to belong to a generation who are privileged enough to recall our childhood with sweet nostalgia. What made it that special is its simplicity. From food fed lovingly with mother’s hands, to being put to sleep hearing fairy tales and lullabies, to being able to grow and enjoy life, as it comes and not trying to catch up. Unfortunately, with the technology and gadgets conquering our lives, not only are children under pressure to learn but also learning is increasingly becoming virtual depriving them of enjoying the real things, as they are.
Childhood is sweet and every child is special. It is important for each one of us, as a parent, to help our child realize the magic of each moment, learn and grow at their pace. Going further into the big bad world, it becomes necessary to tune and adjust and in the bargain compromise and deal with competition, at some point. But atleast, till a certain age, it would be nice to keep the child in them alive. Encourage them to observe, discover, explore at their pace, let them be in awe of what they learn rather than it being a chore or grind, let them make mistakes, help them recognize, interact and feel the nature around them, let them find the joy in little things and let their slightest of achievements excite them. Let them actually paint, sing and dance with you instead of doing it virtually, let them look at animals and learn their names, let them help you around gardening and learn about plants, encourage creativity and keep it real and simple. After all, it is more important to keep them happy first and then, accomplished.
So, what are you doing, today that makes your child happy in that direction?
Leave your comments and suggestions on how to raise a happy child yet keep it simple and beautiful!
Tejaswini is a mom to a lovely one and half year old girl, from Hyderabad, presently living in the US. She is an engineer in IT, by profession. A newbie blogger, photography and painting enthusiast, internet junkie, she enjoys reading and discovering nature when she is not running after her now naughty toddler. She is a dreamer and dreams of being a super-woman excelling at both work and home fronts, doing equal justice to both, someday. She has a personal blog at http://acacaphonyofmiscellany.blogspot.com/