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Planning our Children’s Lives – Is it Helping or Hurting? by Bela Kotwani

In a bustling city like Mumbai, parents juggle tasks to manage their professional and personal lives.  When children are added to the mix, parents face unique logistical challenges from day to day. Running a ‘tight ship’ allows parents to meet their responsibilities and maintain control.

But is this the best solution? What is this solution “costing” us?

1) Late speech development
In order to finish tasks by a certain time, most households put dinner, baths, toys, and most detrimentally, a smartphone or tablet in front of children so they may complete tasks quickly. A child never has to ask for anything hence speech development takes a ‘back seat’.

2) Inconsistency in reward or reprimand
Due to busy lives, not much thought is given to sending a consistent message to children. When guests are present watching YouTube videos is fine but other times it’s not. Eating chocolate is not allowed. However, when the child is acting up in public chocolates may be the easiest way to stop it. The end result? Children try to connect the dots themselves or figure out how to manipulate rather than earn a reward.

3) Fostering a culture of instant gratification
You do… I give you… This strategy works most times in most households and is the quickest way to get chores done. Parents get what they want so they may get back to their work. This creates a culture of mixed messages, and the message sent is chores and necessary actionable items must receive compensation. Just imagine the disarray when the world does not compensate someone for day-to-day tasks!

4)  Fear of the ‘C’ word
Chores evoke thoughts of punishment in children. Doing chores means doing something menial when approximately 90 percent of the world does their own chores. Chores build a sense of pride and respect for our habitat. Since we live in a culture where a set of people create a mess and another set of people clean up messes for a living, it’s our responsibility to teach children dignity of labor.

Let’s take a break and pat ourselves on our backs for dealing with all that life throws at us every day. Where do we begin? Or how do we undo what’s been done? Simply by doing exactly the opposite of how things are being handled today.

1) The power of please, thank you and excuse me
Teach children how to request for things rather than demand or, even worse, present them with things without a request. Teach them how to request for food so they understand when they’re hungry. This not only teaches children how to express themselves but also to value what’s been given to them.

2) Good cop, bad Cop is not the way to go
Both parents and all adults in the household should have the same consistent message at all times, be it publicly or privately. Once children begin to understand, reprimands should be discussed and agreed upon by both parent and child, and be consistently followed through every time.

3) Let the chore be the reward
We bathe because we must feel fresh, we need to eat so there’s strength, we clean our room so we can live in a clean room. We can make a list and reward at Christmas and Diwali.

4) Dignity of Labor
There’s a confidence factor attached to doing chores. Children are infused with self-assurance and are able to function independently.

Last but not least, let every thought word and action in the presence of children be consistent and synchronized. Allow children to think for themselves so they become leaders, not followers. We owe it to our children and we owe it to the world!


Bela_Kotwani_thumbBELA KOTWANI
is one of our International Contributing Editors for India. She completed her Early Childhood Care and Education from Sadhana Education Society in 1989 after gaining her BA in Commerce, and has 21 years of teaching and administrative experience at Arya Vidya Mandir. She has nurtured more than 2000 children in her career so far.  In 2012, Bela co-founded Cosmikids India—a Preschool, Day Care and an After School Activity Centre, with her brother, Rakesh.