A group of young women makes its way inside a bustling cafe.
They choose a table and make themselves comfortable on the cushioned chairs around it, chattering.
When the time for placing their order comes, one of the young women orders a grilled chicken sandwich with a garden salad on the side, because she is “watching her weight,” as she tells her friends.
Another orders a tarragon steak with a large side of mashed potatoes because she loves meat and skipped breakfast that morning.
The third woman orders a small caramel latte with brown sugar because she already ate lunch and is not feeling particularly hungry.
The fourth woman orders a rich chocolate cake with tea because she likes gooey desserts but coffee makes her miss out on precious night-time shut-eye.
As they talk about their hobbies and the latest happenings in their lives, the diversity in their interests and daily activities becomes even more apparent.
One of them loves doing daily yoga workouts to stay fit. Another one prefers sprinting on the treadmill a couple of times a week.
The third one cannot find the time to work out because she spends most of her day running after two small children.
The fourth one doesn’t enjoy working out at all, and she remains quiet throughout the discussion on this topic.
The same variety applies to every other aspect of their individual lives, besides food and fitness, such as academic interests, leisure activities, hobbies, their chosen education and career paths, as well as their likes and dislikes regarding fashion, relationships, homemaking, personal grooming, and money management.
One of these young women reads a few fiction books per week and is an active library visitor.
Another only reads when she needs to, e.g. to send a cell-phone text, or an email; to scrutinize a bill, menu, receipt, or a recipe. She was never much of a reader.
Yet another just reads on her tablet, such as her favorite blogs or articles published in the online newspapers to which she has subscribed.
And the fourth one reads only self-help books because everything else, such as the daily news, novels and fiction does not interest her.
Now, Apply This Fictional Scenario to the World of Children…
Now let us switch our attention to the little children that we are raising in the contemporary world.
I want to draw the readers’ attention particularly to how we, as adults, tend to react less understandingly to differences in children’s individual personalities, choices, and preferences, but more so to differences in their developmental milestones and academic progress.
Visit any park or play area and notice the differences among the children playing there.
You will notice how each child has a preference for a particular kind of play-gym or activity area, from among the variety of swings, see-saws, monkey-bars, and other jungle-gym structures that are available for them to play on.
Some children might love just the swings, not show any interest in climbing.
Others might hang off the monkey bars in a variety of ways using their limbs, but not find the slides worth their attention.
And yet others might just be content to play in the sandbox.
This is just the play preferences that children have.
Be it any other area in their lives, each and every child tries to clearly communicate their preferences and choices to us from as early an age as infancy, such as their likes and dislikes regarding clothes, food, sleeping times, toys, books, and outdoor activities.
Our Reactions to Children’s Efforts at Autonomy
Most adults, myself included, especially those who tend to be over-involved in their children’s upbringing or are first-time, A-type parents, can easily begin to exhibit the symptoms of what is nowadays known as “helicopter” parenting, if they are not careful.
This type of parenting or care-giving style is depicted by becoming over-worried and stressed out whenever a small child makes even a slight diversion from his or her strictly structured and monitored routine.
Be it his or her eating habits, sleeping time, or any daily activity routine, if for some reason the child refuses to do what we want them to do, or tries to make an otherwise natural transition from one stage to another, we parents can become more anxious than necessary, based on our good intentions of fulfilling our role impeccably as the ‘perfect’ parent and wanting our child to be the ‘perfect’ child in every way.
For example, when a teething toddler starts to refuse certain foods that he or she has enjoyed so far and becomes generally much more irritable and prone to throwing tantrums, if their parent is not pre-informed about this natural developmental stage, they can become extremely worried about why their child is suddenly becoming so apparently obstinate and ill-behaved.
The same applies to every stage a child goes through as they grow up. They might achieve some milestones very quickly and take their own sweet time in achieving many others.
However, in a world that is fast becoming saturated by scientific studies, statistical data, and doctoral research, innocent children are coming more and more under the “analytical” microscope for not developing their abilities, talents, and skills soon enough and are being unfairly pressured to perform optimally in every field before they are naturally ready to.Pages: 1 2