Rules of Childhood: How to Raise Happy, Independent Kids

The following is written by guest writer, Kate Maurice.

Every generation claims the next generation differs from the theirs. Surely, it does. Many things change in the time it takes for one generation to get old, and other to be born. Technology, professions, habits. Though, despite these changes, some rules set by nature still need to be followed today.

Along with changing our world, we have changed the way children grow up. Formerly, kids were treated differently. Most times, they were left to themselves. Parents didn’t spy on them. What an irony when the majority of people weren’t free, kids knew what freedom was from an early age.

Today, we’ve changed the culture of childhood. We follow our kids wherever they go, don’t allow them to spend time with their peers unattended, control their every single move. The best we can hope from such behavior is a generation adept at living in a golden cage. The methods which we considered appropriate a century ago don’t work now. If we want our children to be independent, conscious, responsible and — most importantly — happy, we need to reanimate a childhood culture which uses a few simple rules:

1. Fair communication.

We are used to speaking with children leniently, pretending we don’t know something (where is the nose?, what is the color of the sky?) and asking kids about it. However, the fact that we know the answers turns the questions into tests instead of communication. We have to be honest with the children. Helpful, not indulgent. In having conversations with one another, children never overestimate someone just to make a good impression. They listen to each other and act naturally. Their talks with peers while playing more likely help them to learn how to communicate in adulthood than talks with adults.

They learn their lessons from other children, not from adults.

2. Determination and confidence.

The main goal of every child is to become independent from their parents. This desire appears in the early childhood (toddler stage) and grows stronger every day. To develop and make assumptions about the world, kids seek to act like adults – they need to mimic them and they can’t do it in the presence of parents. They need a space free of judgment. In their games, children act like parents; they discuss the rules of the game like we negotiate about something and come to compromises all the kids can agree with. They learn to solve their problems by themselves.

Parents usually prevent games, which could result in their children being hurt. But children need to play them — climb trees, ride a bike, etc. — to feel the danger, realize it, learn to be brave along with analyzing possible risks.

They need to go through it in childhood to be ready face the real challenges of adulthood.

3. Understanding the origin of rules.

Parents have to let children play with their peers unattended. When children play games with adults, they follow the rules of the game adults set strictly, they can’t experiment with them. It puts them into an uncomfortable and unnatural position.

Meanwhile, when children play with peers, they usually change the rules. They understand they are flexible, they invent new ones, they create. At the same time, they learn to negotiate, as playing with peers, they are on an equal footing and they have to make arrangements together. They realize they need to set the rules that will be acceptable for everyone, so they think not only about own interests but about the others’ too. And they learn to do it by themselves, naturally.

4. New challenges.

Children inherit their parent’s behavior in society, though they don’t just copy it, but build upon their parents’ example. The world changes and new generations adapt to it. Often parents lament about the fact that their children differ from them. Though, it is one more reason why children need to play by themselves. It helps them to integrate into the world faster and more organically. Children face new challenges — fast developing of technologies, new kinds of social life — and they have to withstand them. Parents can’t help here. So, they shouldn’t hinder.

5. Private space.

Again and again, children mostly need to communicate with the peers, with the friends that have the same interests and problems, who are going through the same stages of their growing up. When we try to control our kids, especially teenagers, they are forced to look for privacy somewhere else. Luckily, we created such place for them without knowing it — the internet. This is the only tool modern teens have to hide from parents’ supervision. Here they can have sincere talks with their peers and share their thoughts without being afraid of being condemned.

Sure, the Internet can be dangerous. But so can real life. Don’t take this only chance to have private territory away from your kids. Respect their private life. Let them make their mistakes. It is the inseparable part of learning.

Frequently parents look to their children as the upgraded versions of themselves. This isn’t the case. Your children are separate people, and you should not project your fears onto them. It won’t save them from severities and experiences they’ll face, but it will make them jittery and dependent. These are not the characteristics we want to see in future generations, right?

Kate Maurice is a freelance copywriter, a tutor and a creator of online project, who is interested in educational problems in modern society and self-improvement techniques. Kate is a typical introvert. You probably find her in a cozy coffee house reading a book or watching people passing by outside.

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