“Mum, can I go not go for ballet classes?”
“Of course not, learning ballet is good for you!”
Does this sound familiar? Many times we adults feel that we know what is best for our children and will end up making most, if not all, of the decisions for them without setting aside time to find out about what they think. In the midst of wanting the best for our children, we tend to overlook the fact that they have feelings, own preferences and opinions. As children grow, they begin to develop an inclination towards certain areas. Remember the last time when we were forced to do something that was against our will? How did it feel like? Chances are, our children may harbour the same feelings that we did when dealt with such situations.
Getting in sync with your children’s interests
Supporting and respecting children’s does not mean letting them go freely, relieving us of our own opinions and responsibilities as parents. It means that we allow them to make their own decisions according to their own interests while providing them with the guidance that will gear them towards making the right choices. The whole process of cultivating children’s interests may not be easy at first but a little goes a long way. Consulting our children regarding the smallest thing closely related to them such as the colour of the clothes that they wish to wear will indicate to them that their own decisions matter to others.
Parents being parents, there will definitely be times where we tend to disagree with the choices that our children make. Nonetheless, take this a learning opportunity for both our children and us. Instead of turning them down flat, we can sit down with our children and have a chat about the decisions that they wish to go along with. Guide them along in weighing the pros and cons and suggest a few other alternatives which they may want to go along with instead. This process of negotiation may also bring us closer with our children as it may allow both parties to develop an understanding towards each others’ perspectives.
Dealing with bad decisions
As the saying goes, good judgement comes from experience and experience comes for poor judgement. We all make mistakes when we follow our own interests sometimes. The same applies to children. What is important is that we avoid the tendency to go “I told you so” each time they make mistakes. Have a chat with them again on what went wrong and how they can make things better the next time. This way, children will learn that there are consequences to their choices and be more selective the next time they weigh their options. After all, no one is born knowing how to make the right choices straight away.
Upholding your children’s interests
As we get in the momentum of valuing your children’s interests, you will realise that our children will slowly develop ownership and independence. They will understand that they are responsible for their own choices and that it is important to always think of the pros and cons. They will develop their own ideas and opinions and not be too reliant on others when it comes to making choices as they know what is best for them. By setting an example, children may then emulate us and be sensitive towards the decisions of others as well.
Raising children is like flying a kite. It involves allowing them to soar freely while providing them with support and guidance which is regarded as the pull factor that they need to go even higher. The aim is to fly the kite and not let the kite fly itself.
By Nadia Binte Idros