Parents are supposed to be the first teachers of a child. And it’s equally true that your kids also are your teachers, not be the first ones though. May be its not appropriate to generalize, however I think and my experience also says that kids take up the role of teacher at later stages in your life when you might have stopped formal education or when you have reached the stage of “I-know-it-all” or “I-know-it-better-than-you”. I belonged to the latter category until I started observing what my little one is trying to show me from her actions, from her words and sometimes by simply saying nothing.
While one can definitely experience some or the other behavioral changes as they step into parenthood. Change in attitude and a different perspective of looking at life, is also experienced by many. You teach your kid to walk, eat, speak, read, write, play, dance, sing.. etc.. and they in return, are also teaching you how to be patient, understanding, caring and what it is to love unconditionally.
For now, here are five lessons –
Enjoy your solitude
I recollect reading somewhere or hearing from someone, the social need or the desire to have a company or play in group, starts developing as the child is nearing 3. This very well synchronizes with the entry-age for nursery actually. This may or may not be true with all kids. Irrespective of the need to be social, and have someone to play with, kids are very comfortable being with themselves. Even if put in group, you can find them playing on their own. I myself am not a very social person and have always found it difficult to understand solitude and also being comfortable in my own company. Except for reading, for all other recreational activities, I wouldn’t have thought of being alone.
My little one has started venturing out, without the need of me being there, and I do come across many occasions when I have to be alone. And now I see my kid enjoying being with herself and I am also trying to learn enjoying my solitude.
Practice what you preach
This is one of the most important lessons. Day and night, I bombard my daughter with hundreds or rather thousands of instructions, do’s and don’ts, way of living, behaving etc. Too much of anything is bad, so she has already started filtering what she wants to hear. But whatever she listens, she ensures to remind me when I myself breach it. For instance the other day I was asking her to be off-screen just before its time to sleep. And when I end up viewing my mobile (even if it’s for setting alarm), she ensures she’ll point that out to me.
There are numerous occasions where I would have got this feedback from my daughter. And now I am cautious enough to either practice it especially in front of her, or be careful what I preach. Kids learn from what they see, can’t help it but to mend our own ways.
Don’t let your ego come in between your learning
Inquisitiveness is at its peak in the initial growing years. The “Why and How” of everything has just started at my home. To be honest, I don’t even have answers to many of her questions or I am clueless as to how to explain her. That doesn’t stop her from asking questions and she’ll pester till her query is resolved. Even if that means asking the same thing again, again and again. Despite her not understanding, she isn’t embarrassed to admit it..
As adults, our ego doesn’t let us admit this, and so after a while we shy away from asking questions. Of course, we do have the ability to do our own research/reading to get our understanding clear. But being open about our inability to understand when explained, is not so commonly found. This at least, has been my experience (as a trainer in my field).
Be clear and consistent in your own ideas
Kids for sure help you to improve your communication. You have to explain them, coax them, teach them.. all in the manner which they will understand. Their ability to connect the dots is building up and so you better be prepared if your instructions and the explanations are not logical and consistent.
For instance, when I told my daughter that all shoes and slippers are to be kept in shoe rack, she straightaway brought the bathroom slippers as those were the only ones outside!! I was explaining her that fruit skin also has nutrients and so should be eaten. So the day when I was peeling the soaked almonds, the question cropped up – why are you taking off the skin?
Basically I wasn’t clear about why I was doing that and also I underestimated her ability to correlate.
You don’t need a reason to smile
There’s neither occasion needed or shortage of smiles, kisses and hugs when kids are around. Well, those may be primarily for family and the dear ones. As babies turn into toddlers and then into kids, this might be on a descending curve. May be because they start taking life seriously or build perceptions about the surrounding and people etc. As babies, usually they are carefree and so may not need any reason to smile.
As kids, while this could be reduced, still it could take a smallest of reason (well, small according to us) to get that cutest and the infectious smile on their faces. A candy, a peek-a-book, jumping, spotting their favorite cartoon character, or the family members being back at home.. this one could be topped up with hugs and kisses too.
They are absolutely comfortable in expressing their happiness. A full on PDA actually, which as adults we may not be so liberal at.
While writing these, I realized I could go on and on, quoting the numerous incidents and the lessons to be inferred from it. Every child is unique, and every parenting experience is unique. I am also growing as a parent along with my kid’s growing up journey. I am sure, I would come across more lessons along the way.
[This also posted on my parenting blog at http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/being-a-parent)