I am the first one to say parenting is serious business. After all, I’m not only a mother and a grandmother, my work as an author is based on parenting as well. And like most parents, I focus on how and what my children learn, especially during their formative years. The formative years are the most important years in terms of the characteristics and traits they obtain and carry into their adult lives.
Parents place an enormous amount of energy on their children’s academic education, their social skills, and on providing a wide range of opportunities to broaden their scope of experiences to be sure they become well rounded people.
In addition, it has recently come to the attention of millions of parents who are implementing the principles of the law of attraction into their lives that it is equally important to also teach these principles to their children. They understand the benefits are enormous, the least of which being confidence, a positive mindset, and a healthy self-esteem.
Combining these important principles with a wide variety of experiences and a sound formal education, parents believe they have created the perfect recipe for their children to grow up to lead successful lives.
And by all accounts they have.
Through my work coaching parents I have become aware of the intensity by which many parents attempt to fill their children’s lives with the structured activities to accomplish this goal. I know their hearts are in the right place, they are doing what they feel is best for their children’s futures.
However, another extremely vital ingredient in raising a well rounded healthy child is being neglected…the opportunity to simply “play”.
Children are innately fun seeking, imaginative and creative creatures! Parents need to understand the crucial role “play” serves in the successful development of their children. Playing provides children with opportunities to exercise their minds in a non-structured environment, formulate ideas of their own making, and make choices without set criteria.
If every minute of a child’s day is scheduled they will learn to expect their lives to be orchestrated from outside sources without any effort or input on their part. On the other hand, when a child has “open or unscheduled” time to fill he learns to rely on his own thoughts and creativity. Children need to experience their imaginations.
Amid the daily structure of school work, homework, ballet lessons or piano lessons, and soccer or basketball practice, parents need to be sure their children have time to just be children.
Many parents make the mistake of viewing unstructured play time as a waste of time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children need time to create, imagine and explore according to their own internal framework.
It is during these play times they will develop their creative side which is necessary for them to eventually discover their passion. It is through these experiences they will learn about themselves and begin to connect with who they are.
They also need “down” time to just “be”. Think about how you feel at the end of a long day of doing all the things you are required to do. Then consider how you feel when you realize you have an extra couple of hours to do whatever you want…read a book, watch a television show…paint…or write the next best selling novel!
This “free” time is when you are able to re-connect with yourself and recharge your creative energy batteries. Children need this too.
Allowing your children to be children when they are children is the normal order of our development as human beings.
Robbing them of this important time is robbing them of something that can never be replaced. Your children only get one childhood…along with the best preparation for a successful adulthood, parents must also be sure they have the best childhood.
Let them play in puddles, run in the rain, climb trees, chase butterflies, build a fort in the living room out of the bed blankets…and sleep in it if they want to!
Let them create the experiences that will not only provide them with a childhood they will look back on with feelings of joy and happiness; it will also allow them to begin to develop important skills that they will use throughout their lives.
Once you reach your adult years there isn’t much that doesn’t fall under the “do-over” category. If you find yourself midway through your college years and decide to change your major from Psychology to English literature, it can be done. If you decide your job is unfulfilling…you can change jobs. Even if you come to realize that you have married the wrong person, you can get a divorce and marry someone else!
But if a child misses out on that magical time of being a child… playing, investigating, exploring and developing their creative side, it is lost forever. There is no “do-over”.
Parents must value and respect this time in their children’s lives as the treasure that it is.
They only have one childhood.