Monday, November 27, 2017

I have been thinking about this topic for many years. Thanks to my blog, now I have a place to write my thoughts. There are two extreme parenting styles, that I have witnessed. One is ignoring a child, kind of “let him be on his own” style, and the other is “I will be my child’s entertainer 24/7” style. Both of these parents eventually face a huge problem: it’s either they don’t have any relationship with the child, or they have a child “glued” to them. As you can tell, neither of these scenarios are fun to experience. Most of us will agree that it’s important to spend time with our children. We need to talk to our little ones, laugh with them, sing, dance, play, and interact in all possible ways. In fact, it’s very important for their developmental progress to do all of the above. Lately, I’ve noticed that I have been spending too much time with my 13 month old daughter, Vasilisa, forgetting to give her some time to play on her own. It’s so tempting to be around her all the time, especially during this fun age when she is walking, “talking”, giggling, and playing peek-a-boo. With all of this, I forget to let her be alone, even for a little bit, so she can have some quiet time. This blog is a reminder to myself not to entertain my children, but rather let them be free to explore on their own.

Parenting is a long and challenging journey. No one will argue with this. The older my kids get, the more challenges I personally face. But I am very grateful to my Montessori teachers that taught me years ago the amazing lesson of the importance to give our children quiet time. And I mean it. Quiet. Without talking to them,  playing with them, without TV, books, stories, hugs and kisses… Just a child left to himself. I always make sure that my kids room is safe for them to be there on their own, plus with a first child I even had a camera to peak on him. Start this, if possible, from the child’s birth. When they wake up, don’t run to pick them up (unless they cry and want you to comfort them). Let them observe their little world (floor bed is ideal for this purpose), listen to the sounds from a street, make their first moves, hold their blanket, smell and feel their toy. It might hurt our feelings, as parents, but our babies do not need us 24/7! It sounds crazy, but it’s true. They like to spend time with adults, interact with them, play, eat, and be held. But they get tired from all of this, and a few times a day (usually after a nap) they want their “quiet” time. Parents that ignore this need or simply never think of this, end up unconsciously teaching their child that the only safe place to be is in mom’s arms. Month after month, the child is growing and getting used to this constant “entertainment” around him. There is always a noisy toy that sings the same song one million times a day (I don’t think those toys teach the child anything, except giving a headache to everyone in the house), adult sitting and staring at every child’s move and clapping and praising a baby for no reason. The list can go on and on. I can continue for a few more pages, listing our tools for entertainment. But this article is not about our mistakes but rather a recommendation of what we should change. We all learn, and it’s part of a process. Each mistake brings with itself a new lesson, and that’s what I love about parenting.  
Vasilisa's Quiet Time

Let’s look into a different approach. What happens if we let our baby be alone in his safe environment, at least once a day. By doing so, we try to avoid creating a dependency on the adult and let babies explore what is appealing to them. I remember my little kids playing on their own sometimes up to 45 minutes! I couldn’t believe it. Especially in the mornings. My son would wake up (he was about 6 months old) in his room and start ‘talking” to his image in a wall mirror, he would suck his fingers then hit a mobile whale, then repeat all the activities again. He did not need me. At all.

As your child gets older you might notice he goes through the different stages. Some weeks he would call you to be next to him every minute. And that’s normal. But there will be days when you can introduce a toy to him, and just step back for a few minutes to observe him. Later, even walk a way for a little bit. Step by step, as your child will get older, he will be more and more independent, knowing how to keep his mind and hands busy. There is a high chance for him to grow into a teenager that won’t say, “Mom, I'm bored. What can I do?” If you think about this, most of us grew up creating our own games and projects, we liked to be on our own, or with our friends, getting in trouble and laughing for no reason. Today, more and more of our youth is dependent on their parents thinking. Part of this issue, of course, is a computerized culture that teaches our children everything but real life communication and social skills. But there is another part, and my article is about it, our parenting style that leads to this “mom, entertain me” attitude. Poor hard working parents spend tons of money on weekend fun activities, taking their children to expensive sports clubs, play rooms etc. There is nothing wrong with taking your child out once in awhile, and do something special. But if I teach my three year old from the beginning of his life that mom and dad are supposed to be his entertainers, I will most likely get tired of “creating” that entertainment for him. Instead I can teach him to think on his own, and don’t bring a solution on the plate for him, provide environment but let him explore on his own. We don’t need to solve all of their problems, instead we can ask, “What do you think YOU should do?”

Our children are very gifted in a natural sense of creativity. They are born to freely think and move. Let’s not ruin it by pushing our own vision into their minds! Everyone says we should learn from the history. Previous generation with almost no entertainment has produced the best geniuses in history, young boys and girls that constructed items that never existed. Together we can go back in time and help our young children to think on their own.
Rodion's Observation

It’s a long topic to discuss and I will continue this subject in my next blog. Stay tuned for examples on how to create a safe room for your child and some ideas how to teach them play on their own.

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