Education

Planning our children’s lives Is it helping or hurting?

Bela Kotwani
Planning our children’s lives Is it helping or hurting?

I n a bustling city like Mumbai, parents juggle tasks to manage their professional and personal lives. When children are added to the mix, parents face unique logistical challenges from day to day. Running a ‘tight ship’ allows parents to meet their responsibilities and maintain control. Is this the best solution? What is this solution ‘costing’ us?

1) Late speech development: In order to finish tasks by a certain time, most households put dinner, baths, toys, and most detrimentally a smart phone or tablet in front of children so they may complete tasks quickly. A child never has to ask for anything hence speech development takes a back seat.

2) Inconsistency in reward or reprimand: Due to busy lives not much thought is given to sending a consistent message to children. When guests are present, watching YouTube videos is fine but other times it’s not. Eating chocolate is not allowed however, when the child is acting up in public chocolates may be the easiest way to stop it. The end result? Children try to connect the dots themselves or figure out how to manipulate rather than earn a reward.

3) Fostering a culture of instant gratification: You do…I give you—this strategy works most times in most households and is the quickest way to get chores done! Parents get what they want so they may get back to their work. This creates a culture of mixed messages, and the message sent is chores and necessary actionable items must receive compensation. Just imagine the disarray when the world does not compensate someone for day to day tasks.

4) Fear of the ‘C’ word: Chores evoke thoughts of punishment in children. Doing chores means doing something menial, when approximately 90 percent of the world does their own chores. Chores build a sense of pride and respect for our habitat. Since we live in a culture where a set of people create a mess and another set of people clean up messes for a living, it’s our responsibility to teach children dignity of labour.

Let’s take a break and pat ourselves on our backs for dealing with all that life throws at us every day. Where do we begin? Or how do we undo what’s been done? Simply by doing exactly the opposite of how things are being handled today.

1) The power of please, thank you and excuse me: Teach children how to request for things rather than demand or even worse present things without a request. Teach them how to request for food so they understand when they are hungry. This not only teaches children how to express themselves but also to value what has been given to them.

2) Good cop, bad cop is not the way to go: Both parents and all adults in the household should have the same consistent message at all times, be it publicly or privately. Once children begin understanding, reprimand should be discussed and agreed upon by both parent and child, and then followed through consistently each time.

3) Let the chore be the reward: We bathe because we must feel fresh, we need to eat so there is strength, we clean our room so we can live in a clean room. We can make a list and reward at Christmas and Diwali.

4) Dignity of labour: There is a confidence factor attached to doing chores. Children are infused with self-assurance and are able to function independently.

Last but not the least, let every thought, word and action in the presence of children be consistent and synchronised. Allow children to think for themselves so they become leaders not followers. We owe it to our children and we owe it to the world!

Bela Kotwani is CEO and Principal Cosmikids, National Committee - ECA.

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