Its 6 am in the morning, sleepyheads are tumbling out on the floor and mom is getting nervous. "Get up get up!" Mom bangs on the door. "Get up or else you will miss the school bus"! It's panic mode and there is no time to chat or eat leisurely. "Gulp the milk, grab your backpack, don't forget your homework!" Dad fusses. The big yellow bus arrives, honking and waking the rest of the world. There is just time for a quick kiss , a hurried bye and the kids disappear inside the bus. The parents sigh with relief! A job done for the day. The kids slump in their bus seats, wishing they could just sleep for 5 more minutes, or that their parents had 10 minutes to eat breakfast with them and listen to them chatting away about life or they had got one more hug from mom or they had few minutes to play.
Isn't this the regular scene at most households with kids? We are all so busy racing against time in our daily routines, that we never stop to enjoy small moments of leisure and togetherness. Isn't our role as a parent to raise healthy, happy and confident children keen to explore and enjoy the world that we live in? Isn't our role as parents to relax and enjoy these small moments so that we develop a positive outlook towards life?
Time flies by fast and just when you think you have a baby in your arms, suddenly you have a toddler on the run, a pre-schooler who is enjoying the ability to express himself and being independent , a primary school child who comes and tells you stories of all that happened at school and just wants more hugs or a grade schooler who thinks their teacher is smarter than you and wants elaborate birthday parties to a teenager who is aching to be an adult and take decisions. Cherish your kids and the sweet moments spent with them, they will soon become adults and make their own lives. The parent-child bond is ever evolving and at every stage of life you can do some activities to nurture and share a joyous bond.
- Learning: This is the stage when the child adores you and sees the world through your eyes and your actions. Their young impressionable minds will quickly absorb any new thing you teach them. Be a kid with them. Set up messy craft projects and let them give you a glimpse into their budding creative process. Make shapes with play-doh, write their names across your home so that they identify the letters, sing action songs with them, let them help you cook and make funny shaped rotis or colorful idlis. While in the kitchen, tell the name of each ingredient and ask them to count things. Play catch with them and let them develop their coordination and motor skills. Get a bicycle for yourself and go for rides in the park. Play ball in the park. Make up silly stories. Read a bedtime story every night to them. Find other parents with kids the same age and let your kids socialize. It's fine if they fight or argue, its part of their emotional development. Converse with them even if they can't respond back completely. The children are observing you and picking up language nuances.
- Habits: Brush your teeth with them on the side or wash hands with them. Every action you do will be copied happily. Drink a big glass of water as soon as you get up and let the child do the same. Don't force feed them. Keep the plate of food in front of them and let them try to eat independently even if it is messy. If your food habits are healthy , it will translate into their good habits lifelong.
- Apprehensions: Fear of dark, monsters under the bed, my best friend is not talking to me, these might seem silly to us, but are actual apprehensions for children. Telling stories from your own childhood and how you overcame your fears will help. Seek out age-relevant children's books, toys and movies with characters and storylines that deal with overcoming fears and being brave. Be patient and understanding with them.
- Perspective shift: See things from your kid's point of view. Handover your smartphone and let them click pictures of whatever they like. After the photo session, flip through pictures together and ask them to describe. You might get answers that surprise you. Do role reversal games, be the child and let them parent you.
- Spontaneity: Surprise you kid with spontaneous actions. It could be jumping in muddy puddles with them or breaking into a silly song and dance, or it could be ice-cream on a rainy day. Moments like these will remain entrenched in a child's mind forever.
- Confidence building: Capture videos of them singing or dancing and play it to them. Play dress up with them. Play pretend games with them. Organize outings to zoo or parks with other parents and same age kids. Make more travel plans, show them the world and expose them to different experiences. They might not remember or understand everything but they will pick up invaluable life skills along the way. Hug and kiss them often, it builds a sense of security and being well protected.
Don't miss the bus of life as you wait for the school bus to arrive every single day. Small actions such as listed above, will help you raise a more confident and balanced child. In the next article, we will talk about the next stage - Primary Schoolers and how to continue nurturing the precious parent-child bond.