written by Murielle Bourbao
We are part of a water-babies association, and we have been enjoying the warm swimming pool with our children (almost) every Sunday morning for 5 years. Almost every time, I can hear a parent expressing loudly his disagreement on his child’s way, threatening her or even punishing her. Some children won’t put their clothes back on as fast as their parents would like, others won’t move their legs correctly in the water to swim. Some children don’t want to go on the slide. And the parent gets frustrated and starts yelling or making demands. This parental behaviour is also noticeable in playgrounds, indoor play centres, attraction parks, or any place/activity designed for children.
Now, when parents take their child to a children-oriented facility, it is supposed to be fun for the child. The parents would not have gone there just for themselves. So why do they start directing their child’s actions?
Probably because they have made an “effort” to take their child to this facility, they made time in their busy schedule, they may even have paid for it, so now the child has to enjoy herself. Enjoying herself is mandatory, and has to be done according to the parents’ concept of having fun. So enjoying herself means taking the big slide even if she is scared. Enjoying herself means not staying on the same swing for an hour but trying all the tunnels and climbing walls of the playground.
Or because the parents are so caught up is the daily routine that they keep pressuring their offspring like they (most probably) do at home, to gain a few minutes here and a few seconds there. Because they are here for the child to have fun, she should not be spoiling the moment by taking an extra 5 minutes to put her trousers back on.
Wait a second. Is a scared child forced to take the big slide having fun? Is the yelled at child who is playing with his socks instead of putting them on having fun? Of course not. Neither are the parents trying to coerce their child. So what is the point of the parents making that “effort” to take the child to some fun place if no-one is having fun?
When we take our child for a children-oriented activity, we should tune in to our child. We have made special time (and maybe paid some entry fees) so our child could have fun. Let her have fun. The time and the money will not be wasted if the big slide is left aside. The outing will not be ruined if she doesn’t want to tie her shoes right now. Let’s organise the whole activity so the child will decide what to do, when to do it, take her time, lead the way.
In the end, the parents will really have fun, too.
Every day, I seek to improve my parenting ways, and I try to achieve the ideal balance between my children and their needs and desires, and my personal goals and interests.