As parents we have one of the biggest responsibilities on our shoulders – that of being fair to our little ones, to show them what is right and wrong, to understand and appreciate their interests and talents and help nurture their creativity in a positive way. How we care for them now is what will make them the person they’ll grow up to be.
It’s 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’re 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’ll 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’ve already given a warm bath to your little one, all powdered and clothed, and the next instant you find the clothes lying on the floor, while your little one’s in the bathroom, under the shower again. Or maybe she’s 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.
Understand that what you’re seeing as irritating (like drawing on the wall) could be a sign towards their creative interests. That something you view as dirty (sweeping your clothes with that dirty broom) is something your child has seen you do and only trying to emulate, trying to help you in their own sweet way.
Don’t scold. Or don’t take away those crayons, admonishing them for drawing on the wall. Appreciate the art, tell them it’s really beautiful and that you love it, but suggest that it’ll 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.
Appreciate and praise them for the gesture, tell them you’re 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’re cooking up a real meal in the kitchen, let them help you in a few kitchen chores.
There are many creative toys available in the market. 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’re interested and what she’s doing is 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’re trying to be independent, trying to help mommy in their own way. 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. 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’ll help with the head, while they can try the arms. 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 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.