Every parent wonders – “How to raise smart, curious kids?” This article is a very valuable lesson for today’s parents who want to give the best possible to their children. A child’s brain is malleable & can be molded to be smarter & sharper or weaker and bored. Unfortunately, in the quest to make your children “better than the best”, you are depriving them from some important virtues that makes them emotionally & psychologically unreceptive to new learning. And this is why…
1. Make Real Friends
We have many friends. But on Facebook, Instagram & Whatsapp. Our social angle in the digital space is growing but in reality it is only diminishing. We are either too busy or too reluctant to step out & meet our family & friends. Unfortunately, there are limited opportunities for our kids to make real friends too. Unfortunately, smart technology replaced the outdoor playing time. Also, obviously parents also spend limited time with their kids.
2. The Digital World
Let’s admit it. Everyday life is perceived to be boring. And why not. The digital/virtual world with loud music, visual effects & non-stop entertainment of unlimited choice has even 60 year olds glued to their gadgets. Toddlers are fed with an IPAD or a smart phone to entertain them just to get done with the meal time quickly. A child who is exposed to action-packed sources of entertainment at home, finds it difficult to grasp relatively slow human voices & hence absorbing & processing information becomes a humongous task. This explains why prolonged hours of television has high levels of stimulation (rather negative) on the mind. Todays’ modern times sees both the parents working. Managing work, home & baby is becoming increasingly difficult. Baby sitters & technology come to your rescue when you find yourself knee deep in pain. Hence, the emotional disconnect with the child impacts the holistic development.
3. I’m the Boss!
We often hear parents say “She doesn’t eat without watching TV”, “My 5-year old hates eating greens”, “My daughter doesn’t like to brush”. It’s nice to make your children independent. But, does independence mean changing your entire lifestyle. You can’t let the all the reigns be controlled by your child. Since when did they start dictating to & teach us how to parent them? By allowing them to do whatever they want to do, you are reassuring them that they are their own bosses. And probably yours too. There are some things which can be overlooked. You do not have to gun down your children for every small thing. But some “need to things” have to be adhered to. And there is no other way or shortcut for the same.
4. How much is too much
We read about this in detail in one of our previous blogs regarding toys. We often hear parents complain about their children being stubborn and irritated if they are denied something they want. With an intention to make our children happy we buy them whatever they wish for. But this causes short term happiness, but long term misery. Because, the sad truth is that life is tough! You can’t have everything your way. Giving the child chips, phone, burger, groundnuts to throw around only makes them feel that if they want it or cry for it, they certainly will get it. The ability to delay gratification is essential for future success. Today children are unable to handle stress or even cope up with the word “NO”. A child should learn that he CANNOT get what ever he wants. You may have the monetary strength to buy it, but not all wishes can & should be fulfilled.
5. Not FUNny
The moment of truth – every parent at some point in their life feels that they are not performing their parenting duty to their best. Particularly when your child falls sick or get hurt in your presence. Also, importantly when you feel you are not giving enough time to your child. It is unrealistic to expect your child to have a day as packed as you have. The moment you see your child bored with his toys you wonder how to entertain him with other sources and devices. Life can still be fun if you involve him to be a part of your daily activity like giving a glass of juice to all the members of the family; or keep the toys back into his cupboard. Suddenly, when the exciting life at home with every member conversing and entertaining the child at home is not translated at school, the child loses interest in sitting & studying in one designated seat.
As mentioned earlier, the brain is malleable & can be re-mollded. You can train your child’s brain to develop, hone the social, emotional, and academic skills and hence raise smart and curious kids by:
1. Children are great imitators. Give them something great to imitate.
You are the biggest idol to your kids. It is not ok to lie, be rude, get angry, dishonest or act authoritative. Bad habits & behavior is passed down generations. They will adapt and go two steps ahead in every wrong direction that is exposed to them. After all, it is always easier to get attracted to negative things.
2. Knock knock!
A “knock” is symbolic of someone or something unknown waiting to be unwrapped. Surprise your kids with small things that will please them. Try to establish the emotional connect with your child. Play hide ‘n’ seek or Ludo, put a Chhota Bheem sticker in their munch box or anything that will delight your child. In short spend time together. Your child will start trusting you more & sharing things that he probably has not.
3. Set & stick to the rules
It’s important to be flexible with kids. You can’t be Hitler. Draft a schedule for the key factors that make an impact to your child’s lifestyle & overall development of the personality. This includes restricting the number of chocolates allowed every week, intake of junk food, sleeping schedule, or TV/phone time. At least until they’re in high school, make sure the computer is in a public area. You want to know what they’re reading. They will not appreciate it now. But will thank you later. Probably when they see their peers battling obesity or forced to wear a pair of glasses for correction of vision. Parenting is tough. No doubt. You need to equip yourself to be firm but convincingly & tactfully sweet.
At 4 or 40. Patience comes only with practice. Teach the child importance or patience & time. Making them wait sometimes is absolutely fine! Refrain from implementing “easy” solutions like handing over your phone at family outing like dinners or get-togethers. Make them socially involved.
5. Teach social skills
Social skills mean much more than the 3 magical words – “Please” “Sorry” & “Thank you”. You should teach them to not just “Share & Care” but to sacrifice, compliment, be competitive, polite, empathize or apologize. It is proved that a social person is always more successful & happier in life.
6. Treat them as individuals
While it is important to guide them in the right direction, do not thrust your opinion & ideologies on them. Explain the different options and let them decide. Do not invade their privacy. If you disagree with them, be prepared to justify the same. Learn to argue as an intellectual rather than emotional event. Let them choose there are of interest. He does not have to become a Doctor just because you are one yourself. Encourage them to voice & action their thoughts unless that will cause harm to them or others. Treating them with respect like this is also a good way to avoid really outrageous teenagers. If they feel they have a voice they won’t go overboard.
7. Train the “work muscle”
It’s important to set the right precedent from childhood. Doing small activities repeatedly teaches the mind that certain things have to be performed. Polishing the shoes & discarding the soiled socks & clothes from school into the laundry bag is not the mother’s responsibility. Your 6-year old is mature enough to be taught to certain responsibilities.
In my opinion, the best way to raise smart kids is to raise curious, inquisitive kids. Encourage them to wonder & reason. Give them a lot of free reign to get dirty in the process, messy, as long as it’s amendable. Allow them enough play time. We are obsessed with getting good grades and also with teaching them academic stuff far too early. Let them live their childhood. Play games, explore, get bruised and become strong – physically & intellectually. Happy Parenting! :)
A doting mom to an angel, Social Media Specialist & Professional Blogger. She loves to share her thoughts with other parents in the same turbulent boat. She absolutely loves & adores her family & is learning to strike a good work-life balance. When she is not writing, cooking or busy taking care of her toddler, she probably is dancing to some good desi music!