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Freedom for Kids

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Freedom is everyone’s birth-right; and parents often are torn between how much freedom they need to give their kids owing to their safety concerns, fears and insecurities towards their children.

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Age-wise Appropriateness: The biggest conflict to decide how much freedom to give is because of the “conservative’ and “liberal” dynamic in parenting. At every stage and age the amount of freedom a child is given varies. For instance, a toddler needs constant adult supervision whether at home or outdoors; whereas, a young child between the ages of 6-12 years, can be allowed to be out with a familiar peer group. As children grow, you may have to have a dialogue with them explain how freedom comes with a responsibility. You can always keep a check on them through messages and phones to know their whereabouts and some deadlines won’t harm. Thus, your discretion at every stage and age of their physical/mental/emotional development would decide the appropriate amount of freedom they need and how much you can support and guide them.

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Establishing Boundaries:  Freedom does not imply shirking responsibilities and being a nomad. Children often feel ‘free’ to do anything they want because they are allowed to do whatever catches their fancy. As they grow up and begin to understand the world, they need to make their own choices and to make mindful decisions in any situation, you need to communicate the ‘why’s” and “why not’s”. For instance, making a child understand why they are being told to be indoors or to be home within a certain time. Inviting school/college/colony friends over and going to theirs at odd hours or wearing risqué clothing while they are out with friends are something they consider ‘being free-minded’ or cool. It’s not about what they are doing; it’s about the mentality with which they are doing certain things. Inculcate Independence and Self-Reliance and check on how responsible they can be in any given situation. Time-management, space management, completing their assignments within deadlines all reflects on how prepared they are to eventually be on their own.

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Keeping Them Rooted:  It helps to share your own experiences and how despite some rules being there, you enjoyed your freedom and youth. Today, many children, especially teens are in a hurry to experience everything as soon as they can and want instant gratification. The reasons could be peer pressure and the need to fit into a group, to look cool and be ‘in’ with the times. Kids are also highly impressionable because of the celebs they admire from a young age and dream of a life as glamorous as theirs. It’s essential to give your child a reality check. This does not mean binning their dreams or goals but to nurture those and helping them pursue those which are within their capacity and physical/mental/emotional makeup. They will eventually begin to see things the way they are rather than the way they ‘should’ be. Avoid cushioning them from hurt or telling them stories about good/bad people or it being a fair/unfair world. Freedom means allowing your child to make mistakes so they can ‘grow up’.

Which are some of the ways that allow a child to enjoy their freedom and be free-minded? Share your views with us and get featured on the blog.

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Encourage Children to Evolve

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A child brings immense joy, spontaneity and unconditional love to the lives of those around them. At times, though they need encouragement and gentle reminders to be able to evolve at every stage of growth. Here are some simple ways in which parents can help them evolve.

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Naturally Nice: Kids are naturally nice and empathetic, often reaching out to those around them with hugs and compassion. Don’t mistake their mischief or playfulness for a bad attitude or stubbornness as they are just following their natural instincts to explore whatever’s around them. Avoid calling them ‘brat’ or ‘bad boy/girl’ as they could become like that just to rebel or prove something to you. Bring them into awareness if you feel your kid is going overboard or just not ready to listen or hurting someone by being too daft. It’s probably rooted in fear of losing identity and need for constant attention, so allow your child to be vulnerable and express it to you without any hesitation – heart-to-heart communication goes a long way.

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Being Accepting to be Accepted: At times children give into the moment and may put someone else down out of fun, peer pressure or just envy of perceived notions of someone being superior or having better things than them. Make them understand that calling someone names or labeling them is ‘not cool’ even if he’s part of a group of friends who are doing this. Help your child see the big picture – realize that everyone’s unique and beautiful in their own way irrespective of how they look, weigh, own materially or marks they get in their report cards. Accept others without mocking their peculiarity as they could be in their place someday and also forgive those who’ve wronged them as mistakes are human nature.

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Gentle Reminders:  Sit with your kid for a few minutes when they are mentally alert and in a mood to listen ( preferably morning) and gently remind them that they are inherently good-hearted and sweet and reaching out to someone else is a reflection of who they are.  Avoid being too preachy and don’t make it a lecture in moral science as children get bored and see it as criticism for self. Share wisdom once a while without making it a rule to be followed; for instance, a quote like “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

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Being Empty: Scientifically, it’s healthy to be empty atleast mentally before going to bed, so talk to your kid before bedtime, and listen to their stories of how they spent their day. As they grow up, ask them to keep a diary or color pictures, create something with paper or dough, as this could help them vent everything healthily. If your child gets angry easily or throws too many tantrums out of excess energy or for seeking attention, ask him to pick a sport to be able to channel it out in a constructive manner. Emptiness creates space for a child to be spontaneous and happy and spread that happiness around them every time.

Which are some of the ways you help your child just be aware and evolve? Share your story with us and get featured on the blog.