Protect your child’s childhood!
I sometimes feel the need to get on a soapbox…and this is a topic that I feel deserves to be addressed by parents who have young children. The time is coming, if it has not already, that you will feel pressured to push your child through childhood. Childhood is something to be protected. I look around in our world today and feel like often we are pushing our children past childhood to adulthood at a lightning pace. I see outfits for our little girls that scream teenager, 3 year olds that are better with an iPad than me, children viewing TV shows that have “adult themes” , preschool and young school aged children at PG 13 movies, younger and younger aged competitive “elite” sports teams and preschoolers who have “Beiber Fever”. How fast is too fast to grow up? I think we as parents need to take a step back and ask ourselves what the result will be for our child if he or she is 5 or 6 going on 13. Choices for our children should be based on their developmental level NOW, not what it will be in several years. Pushing your child ahead will not result in a child that is ahead; it just might result in a child that has “missed out”.
- Be the parent and trust your instinct. It just doesn’t feel right to dress our young children as adults. Our little girls especially need to learn that a focus only on their appearance is not healthy. Keeping our young girls young in their dress may just slow down the emphasis on looks until they are mature enough to understand that there is so much more to them than their appearance. We do not want our little girls to dress in a way that screams sexuality…the question is do we want our teenage girls to either?
- Consider the impact of what your young child views. Adult themed games, TV shows, and movies often are too much to process for young minds, and that includes the advertisements that come with these shows! Adult images, problems, and conversations should remain adult. The guiding decision making principle should always be not what your child wants to see but what the best is for your child at this point in their development. Violence, poor examples of behavior, adult language, scary images, and adult concepts will influence young children in a negative way. Remember when your child sees something it can never be “unseen”!
- Understand that intense sports teams, dance lessons, gymnastic classes, or music instruction at a very young age will not increase your child’s chances of mastering the activity. Young children who express interest in different activities should be introduced to them in a way that is not pressured and is focused on enjoyment. No strict rules and serious practices yet. Young children need unstructured play and not a lot of formal coaching or instruction. Often too much pressure at a young age will produce anxiety and result in a child that eventually will refuse the activity.
- Save certain activities for “big kids”. There is something about the right of passage and becoming a “big kid”. If young children do not have time to build with blocks, play school, enjoy a game of tag, and have free time to explore outside then we are sacrificing a huge part of innocence. Children who are introduced to “big kid” video games, iPads and smart phones at a very young age become hooked on this type of technology and the simpler play loses some of its excitement. Children who experience activities that really are more appropriate for older children will not be satisfied with those same activities when they are appropriate. Since when is a pedicure party something that preschool and young school age girls need? Will that no longer be enough when those same girls are in high school? All children should hear, “You will be able to do that when you are older.”
There will be pressure as you raise your child. Pressure to force you to allow your child to do things early, have certain things, and go certain places. You will have to make a concerted effort to keep your child innocent. I will tell you that you may not be the most popular parent when you say “no” to something that “everyone else” is doing or has. Been there done that! Parenting is not always easy and you are not always well liked. Remember, there is a time and season for everything. Your child will grow up…but protect your child’ s innocence and childhood, it only happens once, and to be honest, a protected childhood results in a well-grounded and mature adult…when the time comes.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
- Posted in: Becoming a parent ♦ Discipline ♦ Education ♦ Enjoying parenting ♦ Growth and Development ♦ Parent/child communication ♦ Raising a child with character
- Tagged: character, childhood innocence, childhood pressure, discipline, growing up too fast, growth and development milestones, infant, preschooler, school age, self confidence, self esteem, teen years, tweens