Hello everyone! Today we have, Ms. Ankita Dhawan. The topic for today’s live session is ‘How to raise Independent Kids’.
Have you read? Hindi Medium with Ms. Shalu Sharma
Please tell us something about yourself and your kid.
Hi everyone! Some of you know that I am Ankita, Ankita Dhawan, and my handle is @artlover_anku. Professionally, I am a full-time financial analyst and I work with an MNC. Apart from my interest in the stock market and other things, I am an entrepreneur myself. I have a small venture called ‘Tauhfa Qubool Karo’. It’s mainly to do with handmade products for kids as well as adults. Apart from that, I have been blogging on Instagram and other sites over the last one and a half years now.
I have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Her name is Hriddhi. And like all kids, she is hyperactive, jumping here and there, and happy-go-lucky, but a very fussy eater. And, sometimes she is very strong-headed. Not stubborn, but very strong-headed for what she wants. She likes to talk a lot and she keeps imitating everybody around.
Why do we need this topic at all?
We parents need to inculcate the habit of being independent in our kids. We live in times where there is cut-throat competition. And apart from the competition, the current unprecedented times of Corona, we all had to do all the work by ourselves. So we have to be prepared for some uncertain times so that in the future our kids don’t have to suffer. So they are independent enough to take care of all their needs by themselves, be it small tasks of cleaning their dishes or taking care of their toys, anything and everything.
If we try to put this habit from a very young age it will help them in the long term. Because, nowadays kids go out to hostels, for further studies, so if they are used to this environment of doing their work on their own then I don’t think they will have a problem in the future. This is very important for all of us. Even after they get married, sharing the burden with their partners or with their parents also, they should not just be dependent on house help or other people to do their work. They should be self-sufficient like Modiji says, Atma Nirbhar. If everybody inculcates these kinds of habits in their kids, I think we will be in a better position to handle any uncertainty in the future.
How should we inculcate these habits in the kids?
To begin with, I think we parents have to lead by example. So if we are independent enough to do our work on our own, our kids will also pick that up from us. I realized during this Corona time only, when we did not have any help in the house and had to do all the work on our own, I think my kid also understood this. Then she used to be a little calmer and she used to be very helpful. So I try that my kid when she is playing and she is creating a mess, at the end of the day I tell her to take away her toys and put them back in place.
She has to independently take ownership of what she is doing. This also gives a sense of responsibility to the kids. Like, when she is done eating her food she can take her plate and put it in the sink. It is not a very difficult task. Her Momma doesn’t have to do that. Her Papa doesn’t have to do that. She can do it. She can go and do it all by herself. So that’s something that we can start by leading by example. We should do it ourselves first and then instruct them and give them small tasks.
But if we give them a particular task that they can do, it will make them feel happy. They will feel that they have accomplished something. That way it will also help them get motivated and want to contribute to the household. So I think we will have to give them ownership of whatever they are doing.
Also, you can give them a chance to choose, maybe a small thing like - if they want to eat an apple or a banana. If they choose something, they will become responsible that now that I have chosen that I want to eat this, I will have to finish it. That way, it becomes a very responsible thing for them also. So, give them small tasks. I think they quickly learn from all these things. When they see, they create an environment around them so that they can pick up these things and be independent.
For example, when my daughter is getting ready to take a bath, I tell her to keep all her clothes in the laundry basket. So she now knows. Every day she is responsible enough. It reduces one task for me. It makes her also independent enough that she knows what to do. So it is a very conducive environment for all of us. Communicate with them; explain to them how things are working. That is also another way of going about it.
What is the right age to start this thing with the kids?
I can’t put a finger on what the right age would be. I think it is an ongoing process. Of course, starting early will always help because the habits that they pick up at a young age go a long way. So, I think from an early age we should start doing this with them. Talking, I think, helps a lot.
I am a believer in communication with kids. Because, we might think that they don’t understand, but they do. You will be surprised if you try it but whatever small things we tell and we converse even with our family, they understand and take heed of it. They do that. So I think we should create an environment from a very early age and we should continue doing this so that it helps them in the long run as it is for their benefit.
What roles come into play in making them habituated with this quality?
Parents are the anchor who can do this task for their kids. They are the first teacher that the kids have in their life. So they have the maximum interaction with them. Of course, school and friends are there. But parents are the backbone. They play a very important role in making this happen.
During the lockdown, my husband used to help me with my chores. My daughter saw that. She understood that we all need to contribute. So she does it too. So, I think the parents teach this habit to the kids and no one can do it better than the parents. It becomes a very important responsibility for the parents to take up.
How do you think society takes away the independence of the girl child?
To be honest, I think society unfortunately still has a long way to go to bridge this gap. Society does not take it very nicely when we give this independence concept, especially for a girl child. The mindset needs to change. But yeah, society does not accept when a girl child, small or big, steps out and takes ownership of things. So I think there is still a long way to go.
I think we have this responsibility because our generation understands this. Maybe our parents did not think this far. They did not foresee this. But our generation completely understands how important it is for a girl to be independent, not just for the work that they can do, but also financially for the long term. They should not have to depend on their parents or their husbands for that matter. They can lead a respectable life and they can be self-sufficient. I am very positive about this. I think all my peers, our generation does understand it. I think we are going to see a change in the future. The future generations will not have to suffer the way we do. We will get more independence and we will understand the concept of equality more in the future.
What is the limit of the independence given to the children?
Excess of anything is dangerous. So again, it is our responsibility also to make them understand that of course you are independent and it is good to do things on your own, work on your own. But it should not cross the line that you stop respecting your parents. You have to stay grounded to your rules. So, we have to tell them that there is a limit to this.
We have to keep a check as to what the kids are doing. While we give them the freedom to explore, understand and be independent, we have to keep a check on what’s going on in their life. If they are going on the wrong path, we have to correct them.
So, we can’t just let them do anything and everything in the name of giving them independence. We have to keep a tab of what’s going on. From time to time we need to correct them. We need to be friends with the kids so that they don’t feel scared of telling us what’s happening and what’s not. Only then we will know if there’s a problem that’s happening with them and we can help and correct them. So, they need to be Atma Nirbhar but at the same time, parents need to keep a check on if they are swaying away and crossing the limits.
So discipline also plays a major part in making kids independent?
Absolutely! Everybody likes independence and the freedom to do all that they want to. But kids are like clay. You have to mold them into a correct order so that they can become a beautiful structure. So you have to also patiently handle them. You can’t just always keep scolding them and punishing them. You have to be very smart regarding when you have to be strict and when you have to make them gently understand so that they can understand and appreciate the concept of independence rather than misusing it. If we inculcate that habit from the young years, they will understand where they have to draw a line. If those morals and principles start coming from a young age, they will go a long way.
Do you have any last message for all the parents out there?
Every one of us is enjoying the freedom that our freedom fighters and forefathers gave us. But I think we all got to be a little cautious of this freedom and independence and also not misuse it. We need to inculcate the same legacy in our kids and make them understand that we are independent and we have a right to do what we want to. But of course, we can’t harm anyone. For example, we have the independence to do a lot of things, but we can’t harm nature in the process.
That’s my message that - be gentle and kind to your kids but do give them that independence to choose and explore whatever they want to do in life. I think a lot of parents also put pressure on kids as to the milestones they need to achieve, or studying a particular stream, or even opting for a particular profession. If we follow this independence rule from early years this problem will also get sorted where kids don’t have to feel the pressure and they can choose what is of their interest and can take up the profession that they want to. This also ventures into that area where kids have the right or freedom to explore new professions and whatever they want to in life. The kids need to be given that space from early years because we are all humans. And if parents give them that space from early childhood, then they will never fear society. Kids have that right so they should be allowed to choose and explore.