Life is short. There is too much to do and too little time. If we didn’t plan and schedule everything – where would we be?
And so we have schedules and routines.
Routines are fantastic. They are essential in fact when you are a parent and need to successfully ‘run’ – more than one life.
Routines and schedules for children are always created by parents with the best of intentions. We want our children to grow up healthy and enriched with myriad experiences. And with the limited time that we have available – we know that tight schedules are the only ways to make that happen.
And we are right. Routines do work. And because they work so well, sometimes, without us realizing it, they take over our lives. They comfort us with their predictability and efficiency and very soon, are able to convince us that anything different from what they specify, anything that we are not used to or uncomfortable with – is unacceptable.
Being blessed with the task of parenting a child is the amazing opportunity to live life creatively. To do things differently. And to celebrate every moment and have FUN.
Allowing routines and schedules to hijack our lives – robs us of this opportunity – one day at a time.
The pace of our routines can stifle conversation and END COMMUNICATION. It can also make family life BORING and MONOTONOUS.
If you find you are saying one or more of the following things too often to your child – it may be time to review your child’s routine
1. Are you saying “Come on – come on – quick – quick” all the time?
When you are compelled to rush your child all the time – recognize that you have in your enthusiasm – over scheduled your child. The routine of driving your child from class to class and activity to activity - that you made, has now become the routine that makes you. It is time to slow down.
Shamelessly cancel that fun plan that is no longer looking like fun. Go when it’s actually going to be fun.
Without an iota of guilt pull your child out of that hobby class at a distant location. It may be the best – but it’s not right for your child – right now
Every child is different. Just because all the other kids are doing something - your child doesn't necessarily have to do it right then too. The experiences will be right there when he/she is ready.
2. Are you saying “No no no……….we can’t do that now.” All the time?
Parenting a child is an opportunity to live creatively. As parents we often forgo that opportunity because we are in the clutches of our routines.
Routines however should never stand in the way of spontaneity and exciting experiences
Even if it is dinner time – indulge your child and watch the little dance your child has been practising all evening or allow the magic trick your child wants to try on you. It will only take a few minutes to watch and applaud after all.
Indulging your child could mean changing your plan a little – but, give it a thought - if the plan is important only by virtue of being your plan – can there be any harm in changing it a little?
Flexibility is one of the most important parental qualities
3. Are you always correcting your child and saying “No – not like that – do it this way”
As parents we are responsible for teaching our children how to do things the right way – but when we correct children all the time – we could be turning into helicopter parents who are falling into the trap of Hyper parenting.
Also - as adults who already have so much on our plates – we can’t possibly have things being done any which way all the time. We need to factor in the messes that will need to be cleared when things are done just any way.
But sometimes – just sometimes – children should be given the opportunity to do things a certain way “just because” they want to do it that way.
It is important to do things the right way and to stick to routines but when routines begin to stand frequently in the way of spontaneity and fun – it is time to rethink them.
4. Are you always asking “No – why do you want to do that?
It is important that childhood should be filled with a variety of experiences – and as conscientious parents that is what we strive to ensure for our children.
Can it be wrong then, for some of these experiences to be created by your child’s imagination?
A child’s creativity needs room for expansion. And it should not be necessary for a child to give you ten good reasons why he wants to do something whimsical
Instead of asking “Why” can we sometimes not ask “Why not?”.
It is important to encourage creativity. Children learn by being creative and imaginative.
If there is no good reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to do it – why not allow children go ahead and have fun? A new idea – tried tested and proved successful can be a tremendous boost to your child’s self-esteem in addition to being a hands on learning experience.
If it is your child’s jam packed schedule that is keeping you from saying “yes” to new ideas – definitely rethink the schedule.
In your child’s company – sometimes give yourself the permission to be whimsical, laid back and relaxed.
Don’t rush children into tomorrow. Let them live in the moment. Permit them to keep you there too.
The summer vacations are here. And if you have a child who hasn’t learnt to swim yet – I am certain you are contemplating enrolling your child in a swimming class.
If you are – your intentions are certainly worthy of applause.
Swimming is a life saving skill, it is fantastic exercise, it strengthens the lungs and gives them more power, it is a fun activity and a great way to get outdoors and make friends.
If you are a lucky parent – you will have a child who loves water; a child who is looking forward to learning how to swim and takes to the water like the proverbial fish. In fifteen days then - you will have a child who is effortlessly swimming lengths of the pool.
But what if you are not that lucky?
What if yours is the one child in a class of twenty who refuses to get into the pool?
What if yours is the one child who is howling before every class?
Should you force your child to swim? Or should you just give up?
The answer to both those questions is NO.
Before you enrol your child for a swimming class – it is very important for you to understand that swimming is NOT about thrashing about with the arms and legs. Your child will learn how to swim when he/she learns how to control and regulate breathing.
A frightened child will find it impossible to learn how to swim because when a child is afraid – the first thing he / she will lose control over is – breath.
A howling child who is forced into water - will have great difficulty learning how to swim.
As a child cries - water will enter the nose and mouth and the child will choke on the water as he / she cries. The sensation of drowning that this causes – will terrify an already frightened child – ensuring a fear of swimming classes.
If you are the parent of a child who is afraid of the water – here are some things you should do –
Respect your child’s fear
Never say – “Oh! There is nothing to be scared of”. A pool full of water that looks inviting and beautiful to you - can look like an ocean to a little child.
Do not rush your child
Being in water is a new sensation that the body needs to get used to. Allow your child to proceed slowly and realize that water is not threatening. There are children who need to first just be splashed with water – then dip their feet in and then slowly over a month – move to putting their heads under water for a few seconds. But given a chance these children eventually – do learn how to swim. Fifteen day deadlines that typical swimming classes set – do not work for children.
Work on building confidence
Never allow your child to be taken to the deep end perforce. And NEVER allow your child to be thrown in at the deep end with the mistaken notion that children learn to swim when they are in deep water. A frightened child will open his/her mouth to gulp in air –and end up gulping water instead. The sensation of drowning that this causes – will terrify your child and destroy his/her confidence. Instead – allow your child as much time as he/she requires in the shallow area of the pool – to gain confidence. Stay away from overzealous arrogant instructors.
Empower your child
Always give your child the choice to proceed to the next step or go back one step as he or she chooses. Never prevent a child from leaving the pool if he/she wants. There are days when children are very tired - days when they find the water too cold or days when they are just not in the mood. Compelling children to undertake a challenge they do not feel they can tackle at that moment - can ruin the confidence they have built so far.
Persist and encourage
As difficult as it may be to believe it – every child wants to learn how to swim. Encouraging your child to persist in his/her effort to learn how to swim – is the one thing that your child needs from you
As you teach your child to swim remember that this is your child’s challenge – do NOT make it yours.
Happy swimming !!