Sunday, August 1, 2010

Understanding And Appreciating Those Little Gestures

As parents we have one of the biggest responsibilities on our shoulders – that of being fair to our little ones, to guide them through life, to show them what is right and wrong, to understand and appreciate their interests and talents and to help them nurture their creativity in a positive way. It is a huge responsibility, one that involves a fresh young mind, and how we care for them is what will make them the person they will grow up to be.

It is a huge responsibility, yes, and sometimes we do tend to make a few slips and misses. Sometimes we fail to see those tiny signs that are so vital and can make a huge impact on a growing mind. Keeping a few things in mind and making a conscious effort of keeping our eyes and minds open can help us understand our little ones better.

Take a closer look at your little one. Do you see a budding artist there, or a musician, or a painter, a dancer or singer, a story-teller, an actor, doctor, chef, hair stylist?

Of course you don’t need to start training them for a career as soon as they are through with their potty-training. But helping them to nurture their interests and encouraging them with their talents will not only boost their confidence, it will also give them an outlet to use their energies in a positive and non-destructive way.

Your little one might be creating colourful masterpieces on the wall. Or do they run off to the park each evening with a football in hand, practicing those kicks? Is your spoon finding itself constantly in the company of your child, being beaten mercilessly on the table or on the cupboard, accompanied to a few odd beats and the shake of that little head? Are your accessories always out of your box, being mixed and matched by your little doll, as she tries them on her dolls? Or is there a constant line of patients in her room, all waiting for the little doctor to give them a shot of the injection? The kitchen cupboard is constantly ransacked and all your flour and lentils are ending up in a gooey mess?

Or picture this – you have already given a warm bath to your little one and they have been all powdered and clothed, ready to go out? And the next instant you find the clothes lying on the floor, while your little one is in the bathroom, under the shower, soaping up himself. Or maybe she has decided to clean up the whole house today with that big broom, in the process sweeping your clothes as well and putting a sheet of dust on your laundered wear. Or are the clothes always out of the cupboard, while she tries to fold and put them back again?

Understand that what you are seeing as irritating (like drawing on the wall) could be a sign towards their creative interests. That something you view as dirty and wrong (sweeping your clothes with that dirty broom or taking off their clothes and heading to the shower again) is something your child has seen you do and only trying to emulate, trying to help you in their own sweet way (cleaning up the house, or taking a bath on their own).

Don’t scold. Or don’t take away those crayons, admonishing them for drawing on the wall. Appreciate the art, tell them it is really beautiful and that you love it, but suggest that it will be even better if they can do the same in the colouring book. Take them to a stationery shop and ask them to select a few drawing books. Once back home, you can give them the same, and maybe a new set of colours too, to encourage them in their talent, and see your little one paint many more masterpieces.

If the contents of your cupboard are lying on the floor while your little one sits with a flour-plastered smile, don’t panic and shout. Tell them there is another better way of doing what it is that they have done. Appreciate and praise them for the gesture, tell them you are proud of them and say thank you for cooking dinner for mommy, but slowly make them understand it is not safe for them to enter the kitchen yet. Why not get them a kitchen set of their own? While you are cooking up a real meal in the kitchen, let them sit right near the kitchen and make a dish of their own. Or you can also take their help in a few kitchen chores, but of course with adult supervision at all times.

Too much accessories being torn and wasted as a result of your little girl’s enthusiasm to dress her dolls? There are many creative toys available in the market these days. Not only will it let her make her own doll’s (or even her own or your) jewellery, but will also let her create beautiful photo frames, lamp shades and other creative things that can keep her occupied for hours. Be sure to be with her when she makes them, as not only will it be unsafe to leave your little one unattended, but your presence will also give her encouragement and send out the signal that you are interested and what she is doing is something important.

Taking a bath on their own, wearing clothes on their own, trying to fold their clothes and cleaning up their cupboards and drawers are all good signs. They are trying to be independent, trying to help mommy in their own way, they are taking their first steps towards becoming a grown-up. Don’t discourage them at this stage. What you say to them now and how you say is of immense importance, so choose your words and reactions carefully. Praise them for their efforts and initiatives. If they want to take a bath on their own, be close at hand and encourage them to clean up those little arms and legs. If your child is very young, this is also a great way of teaching them body parts (clean your nose, now clean your hands, now knees, now neck, so on and so forth). If they want to dress up on their own, tell them you will help with the head, while they can try the arms. If they are cleaning the cupboard, it could be a great way of teaching colours and numbers. Also, many schools teach basic origami to the little ones. Letting them fold their own handkerchiefs and napkins will help them hone their skills and also help them learn to be more organized.

There are so many new things to be learnt from your toddler and little one that each new day can be an experience. Parenthood is a lovely journey, provided you learn to keep the word ‘NO’ to a bare minimum and instead let your child explore the world (of course while being safe). Join them in their adventures and explorations. Smile laugh have fun. Live your childhood with your child.

Give them their wings to fly. To reach up to the sky. And when you see them happy and soaring high in life, you will know there can be nothing more special than to see your child grown up into a happy and good human being, doing what it is that they love to do and are interested in doing, and not ending up going through life just watching the clock and keeping the corporate codes in mind.

See those signals right now and encourage them.


And like I always say and believe in:
'Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children' - MJ

Happy Parenting!!!

- Debolina Raja Gupta

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