The free child

Babies are cute, Babies bring happiness, Babies are lovable, adorable and beautiful… We cherish and nuture babies. We also ensure that we do the best for our babies. Most of us have our own beliefs in bringing up our children. In India, it is common for parents to think it is their duty to teach kids right from wrong, to teach them discipline, to teach them religion, and generally to teach our kids all that we know.

Baby

But, what if there is another way to look at children and parenting?

A baby is another human being. Right from it’s birth, it is in the process of becoming an adult man or woman. All babies are born with the instinct to know what it needs for survival. We do not teach a new born to nurse. Neither do we teach a new born to sleep. Every baby knows how to do these two vital activities so that it can survive.  This is not taught.

Humans are born with the capability to KNOW. We can think, we can observe and understand. A child is capable of learning all that it wants by itself. All children are born intelligent and can learn what is needed for him / her at every stage in life.

Does this mean a child does not need parents? No, Parents are essential to every child. Parents protect the child. They help children with their activities till they have grown in to an independent adult. But, parents cannot take over their children’s life. Parenting does not mean parents defining their children’s dreams. It rather means helping children become a full-fledged individual with their own dreams.

This happened a year back… A friend was worried about her 2 year old child’s inability to learn numbers. She taught her child using daily examples to count. She had tried the abacus, flash cards and educative books. But still her little one did not count beyond two. She recites all numbers by heart, but cannot count objects. This was worrying my friend a lot. But since it was frustrating both of them, they forgot numbers for a while at their home.

One fine day, her little daughter told her that there were many crows in the backyard. The next day, she told her granny that she needs many peanuts to feed her toys. Then she asked her dad for a flower. Slowly it was obvious that the little one was distinguishing between one and many. Over six months from then, she now says she picked two flowers, she has one nose with two holes, her doggie has four legs etc. In this six month period, no one taught the child numbers, or used the books or flash cards. She seems to know numbers naturally, through her own observation and understanding. It is not deliberate teaching, but an example where the child knows naturally.

This learning by observation and understanding is not a one time activity. Humans do this all through our life. From learning to sit and walk as babies, … to creating new dishes and innovations in the kitchen, we continue this self paced learning through out life.

It is common in India that parents want their children to excel academically. School curricula that boasts of academic excellence, international exams and bookish knowledge are believed to have higher standards than a play way learning curricula. Abacus classes that teach children to increase their maths solving skills are a mandatory after school activity. In the name of academics and excellence, we are making our kids forget their in-born ability for self paced learning.

Classroom

Children in many towns and cities have time only to read school books and prepare for exams. Their parents dream of making them score good marks and land a high paying job. But, his attitude towards life, how well he evolves socially and mentally, his creative talents, his presence of mind etc are not given importance. These skills can be acquired only by natural learning through out life. It is acquired only by giving the child freedom to learn on its own pace and observation.

Are parents in India ready to understand this…? It is time to respect the freedom for a child to observe, understand and learn at her own pace. Let us give our children the joys, activities and freedom of childhood.

 

 

. Image source: Static News,

Baby and Child Care – by Dr.Benjamin Spock

This book was first published about 65 years back, in the year 1946. It is a useful reference book for parents with children of all ages.

Dr.Spock was an American perdiatrician.  He was a pioneer in the field of psychoanalysis for children. In other words, he was one of the first people to study children’s emotional and psychological needs. His studies led to the emergence of flexible and affectionate ways of bringing up children. He stessed the importance of respecting children as individuals. His book emphasises that the best way to bring up children is to rely on understanding and common sense.

Baby and child care

There are separate sections in this book dealing with pregnancy, new born babies, toddlers, children and proceeds up to teen agers. It gives a clear understanding of what to expect at every stage of child growth. There are no mention of growth indicators or milestones. Instead there is a summary of what might be the normal growth pattern in children.

This book clearly lists reasons behind behavioural problems of children. It gives parents tips on how to handle behavioural problems. Starting from continous night time crying of 2 month old babies, to temper tantrums in 2 year olds to irritable behviour in teen agers… this book states psychological reasons that drive children and how to handle these problems without disturbing the child.

In addition, this books also has a full fledged medical reference to ailments, injuries and allergies in children. It is a handy reference to understand when your child needs medical help and how to give emergency medical aids to children. Have you fretted over your 1 year old son when he swallowed a  coin, or worried that your 3 year old ate too much of hot sauce when you were fixing her meal? This book lists all such minor ailments and injuries common to children.

There is an India specific edition of this book on the stands. It has content more relevant for parents in India. Available with all major online book sellers,  including Flipkart and Amazon. This book is definitely worth every single rupee you pay for. It will appeal to all this who are looking for a reliable reference for child growth.

This is one book that certainly makes parenting more enjoyable!

Good pre schools for toddlers

Forty years back, the correct age for sending children to school was five years. Twenty years ago, three years was the correct age. Now, children as young as two years start attending pre-schools and play schools. How does this influence a child’s growth?

At the completion of two years, children can gradually observe and understand how the world works.  Every child has his own way of observing and exploring the world. Some children are fast at understanding, while some take a longer time. However, these are best learnt by silent observation at the child’s own pace.

Child learning from water

Increasingly, children start preschool between two and three years. . The reason for this is the academic competition prevalent in India, nuclear families with working parents, and the social pressure to do what every one else does. In this context, here is an analysis on what kind of play schools are out there. How do they affect child development? Here are a few thoughts….

Routines and Schedules:

Not all two / three year old kids can adapt a routine. For active and curious kids, a routine may end up frustrating. If your kid does not show interest in adapting to a scheduled life style, skip preschools that emphasize on getting kids follow a routine.

child winning

Competitions:

Many schools hold races, fancy dress, oratory competitions as a means of entertaining parents and children. Think twice while choosing a school that holds many competitions. The concept of memorizing, winning, etc might be over whelming and unnecessary at three years of age.

Open play spaces:

Toddlers need to experience a lot of textures, sounds, shapes, etc. This is best done by letting them play outdoors. The variety of colours, sounds, shapes, objects that nature provides are the best teaching and growth aids for children. Preschools that offer safe open spaces are a definite advantage to your child’s growth.

nature playground

Image source: http://www.naturegrounds.org/

Food:

Some preschools and international schools provide snacks and food. If opting for schools that provide food, due attention is needed for the menu and food. Ensure the menu provides a multi-grain nutritious food. It is best to go in for schools that offer specialty cooked food rather than outsourced food cooked in huge quantities.

child melon

Hygiene:

Not all toddlers are properly potty trained by the age of two or three years. ISome school that looks down on toddlers who cannot wash themselves. Some schools even call up parents to complain or scold kids who are not potty trained.  This have a negative impact on your child’s psychological growth. In addition, your kid will have an awful day at school if she has to spend 4 or 6 hours smelling bad in soiled clothes. It will be a good decision to avoid such schools.   Give preference to schools that have motherly care takers who can wash and tend to your kids.

child nappy

Montessori Preschools:

Montessori preschools offer kids a variety of learning tools and play things. The child is free to select the activity that she is interested in. Montessori preschools let the child discover her own observations. They do not involve direct teaching or instructor led teaching. Montessori schools are a good option for parents who give more priority to their child’s overall development (psychological, behavioral, social, etc) over academic development.

Montessori-Knobless-Cylinders

Waldorf Preschools:

Waldorf education model for preschools offers group activities, home like environment, focus on extra curricular activities like coloring, reciting, playing with building blocks, modelling clay, etc. Waldorf system is widely believed to be suitable for children who like rhythmic repetition, and order.

child colouring

Religious Preschools:

There are a whole range of schools affiliated to various religions and spiritual trusts. These schools offer the usual classroom education, along with teaching aids and curriculum influenced by the teachings of a particular religion or spiritual guru.

A few of these institutions focus on discipline. Strict schedules, punishments, verbal admonishes are things to be aware of when selecting schools that focus on making the child learn discipline. Select religious schools that nurture the child’s innocence and teach them values in a child friendly manner.

child praying

Instead of exploring and understanding the world, many two year old children spend time in closed classrooms,  eat out of snack boxes, memorize rhymes and action songs,  have teachers teaching them, etc.  When this happens, we need to ensure these class rooms help in the child’s overall development.

A healthy body and happy mind are essential for a good childhood.  Let us ensure every child has access to a healthy, free and happy childhood.

An online women’s magazine

Eve’s way is now available as a monthly e-zine. Featuring articles, literary works, polls and many more interesting features to come. Inspirational self help articles for women, showcase for the latent talents of our ladies and many more.

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Eves Way - June 2013

 

 

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Parenting – physical or mental?

Parenting – A word very much loved by women. Almost all women I come across consider themselves experts in parenting. If you are in India, and if you happen to have a child, you will receive advises and guidance on this subject from almost every woman you come across.

I was walking down the street the other day with my 10 month od daughter sleeping on my shoulders. A woman called out to me from inside her boutique shop. Curious, I stopped only to get a long advice on how I should cover my baby’s head while taking her out etc. I had the urge to explain to her that a mild exposure to the sun will not harm my daughter, neither will a pleasant breeze. But such explanations will only earn me stares and curt replies. I have even had people call me a mindless mother and my husband, a selfish father when we refused to load our daughter will all the customary gold and silver jewellery that a new born child is supposed to wear in this part of the world.

free childImage source: Etsy/terbearco

By parenthood, do we mean only the physical growth of the baby, and over protectiveness of it’s physical comforts? Is it not more important to bring up a mentally and psychologically mature baby? I would be proud to call myself the mother of a mentally mature, independent and sensible daughter, than to be the mother of a fair, beautiful, pretty looking daughter. Not that appearance and physical attributes are to be neglected. A good appearance is vital for a confident and happy mind. But, the point here is – physical appearance is not the only aim of good parenting.

In a society where the older generation’s view points on parenting and pregnancy are highly valued, it is a disappointment that the generations old advises and beliefs largely confirm to physical aspects like eating, massaging, sleeping routines etc. Not much is said about nurturing artistic talents or an independent spirit.

To nurture over all development, parenting needs to rest on the belief that every child knows what it needs to survive. Trust your child’s instincts to sleep, eat and live. Do not force your ideas / discipline on the child… instead feed him when he is hungry, let her sleep when she has tired herself out, let her play in the water to  enjoy her bath, let her enjoy a walk in the sun if she wants to play outside… Over protectiveness tends to make parents proud of their parenting skills, but it narrows down the child’s all-round development.

Common sense and respect for freedom is the best guide to parenting, now and forever.