WHAT CHILDREN WANT
Are parents right to take their kids along everywhere they go or force them to do extracurricular activities they might not like? Experts give us their opinions
Last week, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States at a lavish ceremony in Washington DC, USA. The entire event was telecasted live on TV around the world. But when the cameras panned to Trump’s 10-year-old son, Barron Trump, the boy did not seem to be interested in what was happening around him or what his father was talking about. Young Barron yawned several times, and could be seen trying to keep himself awake. Barack Obama’s younger daughter, Sasha Obama, was also photographed yawning at her father’s inauguration in 2013.
These are signs that such events just don’t interest kids in general.
It’s very common for adults to take children along for parties, events or shopping. Parents rarely bother to find out if their children want to accompany them to something that is of interest to adults. But clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany says: “Taking children to parties, events or for shopping helps them develop social skills, which helps later in life. But, at times, if your child is not in the mood to attend a party or an event, it’s okay to let go. A parent shouldn’t have rigid boundaries.” However, Swati Popat Vats, president of Podar education network, says taking children out often may not always be good for them. She says, “If a child is socially integrated at such events from a young age, he or she will grow up with positive social and interpersonal skills. Manners and etiquette can be learned in such situations. But if a party or dinner winds up late at night, it may affect a child’s health.”
But if a child is old enough to understand what they like or dislike, parents can always ask them for their views. Hingorani says, “When we mould children according to our expectations, we stop their emotional and psychological growth altogether. So, it’s ideal that you inform them where you are taking them and why.”
DECIDING ON YOUR OWN
Apart from parties, dinners and other events, adults often sign their kids up for extracurricular activities such as dancing, singing or music lessons without their consent. Popat Vats says, “While the concept of ‘enrichment classes’ is catching on in India, I don’t know if the term ‘enrichment’ describes it best. I think it is more of ‘keep them busy at any cost’ for some parents. For others, it is ‘I didn’t get a chance to learn this, so let my child do it’. ” She adds that children need and should be given free time and be allowed to get bored, as that’s how their creativity and reasoning skills develop. “We are pressure cooking our kids, which is leading to fractured youth,” she says. Popat Vats says that the child should be the one to choose. “After all, you want the child to learn something from these activities. But in most cases, parents thrust these activities on to their children.”
Barron Trump (above) with his mother, Melania Trump (above-right) at the US President Donald Trump inauguration in Washington DC, USA