Let Your Kids be Kids

By Debra Waranch, LCSW-C

Today’s kids seem to always want to be in control. They are in a rush to get going and to be there. But where is “there?” What is the rush? Is it their rush? Your rush?  They want to become an adult doing adult things way before their time. Bypassing childhood is missing an essential developmental stage of life. Think about it—how often do you hear people say they miss their childhood?

It’s important to help your children.  Let them be in the moment so they don’t rush through being a child.  In order to help them, it is essential that you be in the moment. As an adult, you need to guide them. Be aware of the importance of this time and stage of their life.

Here are some guidelines to help you as you parent your child.

  • Stay age appropriate. Take note of where they are, both age-wise and developmentally. Don’t introduce material or items before they are ready, regardless of what they’re asking for or what their friends are doing.
  • Teach them patience. Show them how you maintain your patience and talk about situations in which those skills are necessary.
  • Guide them with mindfulness skills. Demonstrate taking things slowly, focusing on one thing at a time, and doing the job to the best of one’s ability.
  • Follow the rules. Model the kind of person you want them to be. Respect established rules for activities like movies or amusement park rides. Don’t let them go to places where they are too young to get it. Don’t believe that because your child is bright the rules don’t apply.
  • Wait until your child is ready. If your child is of age but does not want to stay home alone or start driving, don’t force it. Take the time to hear what your child is saying and respect those feelings.
  • Shield them from adult information when necessary. When it comes to sensitive personal information or serious news events, keep your child on a “need to know” basis. Follow this suggestion until they are developmentally ready to understand what is being discussed. When this happens, sit down and talk with them about it.
  • Be confident about your decisions. Believe that you know best.  Remember that no one loves your children or worries about them more than you do.
  • Stop thinking things will get easier. The truth is that as your child ages it is harder.  It’s your job to make sure they have the skills intact to handle each age and stage in a healthy manner.
  • Remember that slow and steady wins the race. With age comes responsibility; with responsibility comes more independence.  Remind them that things take time.

Noted child development expert and clinical psychologist Jean Piaget wrote that, “Play is the work of childhood.”   A good reminder to let your kids be kids and enjoy those magical moments of childhood as long as they can.

Debra K. WaranchDebra Waranch, LCSW-C is a therapist at Jewish Community Services.

Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.

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