When talking about children it is a very common way of addressing them as ‘today’s children’. We do have a lot of things to comment and observe about them. We are often proud about their achievements and many a time curious and amazed about the way they do things. They are our ‘newgen’ kids or ‘techie’ children. Well, having said that we also face numerous problems bringing them up. We love our children and do so much to keep them happy, to provide them the best education, to encourage their skills etc. Still studies say that the cases of depression among children are increasing alarmingly. We see an increase in the number of suicides among children. What’s going on. What’s missing exactly?
How might we understand the child of today? The biggest difference the current generation has as compared to the past generations is the influence of the internet. I am sure we would all agree here. No generation has ever before been bombarded with information and social pressures as they are today. Having said this the next thing that comes to my mind is the ‘abundance’ of everything, be it information, clothing, food, anything. Today’s children are taken up by the latest gadgets, fashion trends and so on. Their wants seem to be endless and they waste money on things that are not important. At least that is what we grown-ups think. Why are they so? Well, taking a closer look may help us to see things better, things that we may not have considered.
The human brain is one of the first organs to start developing in a fetus. It starts developing right after three weeks of conception. Research shows that a child’s brain is more open towards learning and enriching influences when compared to grown-ups. That is why we find children curious about everything. Although, genetics has its own part in forming a child’s temperament and personality, studies suggest that learning and experiences from people and situations around also play a crucial role. This is common for children now and in the past generations. During their early years, they spend most of their time with their parents at home. Hence, parenting plays a crucial role in shaping a child’s overall development. A father’s contribution is important but a mother’s role is the most significant and she is the primary influence in a child’s life. Here is where the change is brought about. Today’s children are being deprived of a healthy childhood. They are born into the hands of digitally distracted parents. I have seen new mothers using their smartphones while feeding their babies not knowing that they are actually giving up precious moments with their baby. We give our toddlers smartphones to play games so that they don’t make demands on us. Little do we know that we are letting go opportunities to connect with them. We can’t blame them to like their smartphones so much. Can we? Are we really ready for the sacrifices required to be a parent.
In the past generations, children by the time they were five they knew their limits and boundaries. They knew that lying is bad, mummy does not approve of it. They knew that if they do not pick up their toys after playing mummy would get mad at them. They won’t talk to strangers without daddy around. They knew that they had to eat their veggies also. They could easily assess their mummy’s mood and knew that mummy is there for them when Daddy is busy. They took permission from their parents if they wanted to stay up a little late and knew how to take ‘no’ for an answer. They knew what boredom meant and their creative skills were the best then. They learned to respect our culture and values. These children grew up to be confident and emotionally strong individuals.
In today’s busy world it is still possible to raise up happy and healthy individuals. For this, we have to go back to the basics. We have to rewire their brains to the right direction. Like we said, our children are born into a world of electronic gadgets. We cant keep them away from it. But we can teach them to use it wisely. What did our parent’s tell us about TV timing? We can do the same with them. Monitor them so that they stick to the allowed screen time. Always remember that you are your child’s parent and not just a provider or friend. Set limits and boundaries and make them understand that it is for their well being. Teach them turn taking, empathy, sharing, table manners, good eating habits and such other things. It is our responsibility to give them a clear idea about what is right and wrong. So that when they grow up they are not influenced by peer pressure or in any other ways. Offer kids a well balanced life of what they ‘need’ and not what they ‘want’. When we do that, even if they see an abundance they will only take what they need. Teach them responsibilities and independence. Take their help in the kitchen or to look after their siblings. Don’t over protect them when they fail instead teach them to learn from it and rise high. Children are not fragile, they are tougher than we think. Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ to them. They will learn to take ‘no’ for an answer. Children can understand when mummy is tired, or if there are any tensions in the family. They observe everything. So talk to them about what is going on in the family. And how they are expected to behave.
Make them call there grand parents and talk to them with love and respect. Be emotionally available for your children. Turn off your phones until kids are in bed. Be their emotional coach. Teach them to deal with anger and frustration. Give them time to get over it and be there for them. Connect emotionally; smile, hug, tickle, read, sing, dance, jog with your child. Let us make sure that they don’t have to search for emotional security in the various internet sites. Children of all generations need love, care, attention and acceptance. They will survive without burgers, play stations and branded toys and clothes.
Just as you are your child’s first teacher, your parents were yours. Things they said and did, their way of being and relating to you and others, laid the foundation for many of your beliefs, values, attitudes, and parenting practices. Few parents, if any, had a lesson plan in mind. You tuned in to the subtle and not-so-subtle messages they sent, which influenced how you thought about yourself and the world around you. And these childhood experiences will also influence your parenting style today. Every parent child relationship is unique. Trust your instincts and intuitions more than internet search engines when it comes to taking care of your child. Being a parent is an awesome responsibility. When you become a parent you are also gifted with the capabilities of taking care of your child. We can surely bring up a healthy, happy and sensible generation who would use technology and love people, making us proud parents.