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Thursday, March 26, 2020

10 Reasons Not to Rush Your Children Through Childhood

10 Reasons Not to Rush Your Children Through Childhood

Photo by Cheryl Holt (pixabay)

Ever hear the old saying about parenting that the days are long but the years are short? Parents who have raised their children into adulthood often tell younger parents that their children's childhoods go by quickly. Sometimes, though, that's hard to remember when you're trying to manage your own career, run the household, help your oldest build a volcano for science class, and get your youngest to soccer practice. The rush of modern life presses into our kids, just like it presses into us. There are many good reasons for not rushing your children through childhood, though.
    1. Play is crucial for healthy, happy child development. All mammals require play. It's actually hardwired into our brains! However, just because we have an impulse to play doesn't mean that it doesn't require nurturing and cultivation. Children in modern societies are showing signs of dysfunctional play: They don't know how to interact in mixed-age groups or how to engage in symbolic play like turning a box into a spaceship. Parents can nurture their children's play instincts by giving them unstructured time that allows their instinct for healthy play to kick in.
    2. Recess is essential for social skills, confidence, and academic performance. The rise of high-stakes testing led to a sharp decline in the amount of recess schoolchildren get in a day. Recess is vital, though, and its restriction has bad side effects. Children without adequate recess time typically have more learning challenges and behavioral issues. Recess offers a wealth of social, cognitive, and emotional benefits all children need to be successful students and grow into successful adults.
    3. A playful, happy childhood is more likely to lead to a happy, balanced adulthood. Happy children have a much better chance to grow into happy adults. A happy childhood requires more than loving parents, though: It requires time to actually be a child, to play, and to engage in creative endeavors.
    4. Children's lives need to be lived at a child's pace. We all know that adult lives move at a fast pace. Who doesn't have a hectic schedule? Unfortunately, that pace and those schedules impact the children in our lives. It means that young children sleep less and have more and faster transitions in their days. Developing brains aren't meant to move at such a fast pace. Letting your children move at their own, slower pace helps them develop better habits and a better understanding of the world.
    5. Children naturally love to learn, but overscheduling or overworking a child will destroy that love. Ever watched a child examine a bug, exclaim over a flower, or puzzle over some other small facet of life? When children engage with the world around them in this fashion, they are displaying their natural love of learning. For children, the world is a big puzzle, and they are eager to discover the pieces and how they fit together. A child left to their own devices will make these sorts of discoveries. But an overscheduled child won't have the time to engage in this sort of discovery, and their natural love of learning will be extinguished.
    6. Overscheduled children have less time to learn who they truly are. Being bored has its benefits. A bored child might learn to love the books on their shelf, tinker with their toys to learn how they work, put on plays with their dolls, or engage their creativity in other ways. These explorations through boredom help children learn what interests they have, what they are good at, and what they love doing. This self-knowledge helps children develop deep interests and eventually discover career paths. Kids who are overscheduled with lots of formal activities don't get these opportunities.
    7. It can destroy the conversational duet, which helps children learn. One vital way young children learn is through a conversational duet with their parents and other caretakers. Asking children open-ended questions lets children engage in spontaneous learning with adults. Want to incorporate this into your parenting? When your child draws a picture, instead of asking questions like, "What color is the sun?" say, "Tell me about your picture."
    8. Rushing through childhood increases the amount of stress hormone in a child's body. Children's bodies don't react well to stress. Stress chemicals can change a child's brain chemistry and even the underlying anatomy of the brain. These changes can result in problems with behavior, learning, mental health, and physical health, which can last a lifetime.
    9. Once they're acclimated to being busy, it's hard for children to learn to relax. Children used to racing from activity to activity don't have time to develop the mental resources to know how to relax. They don't know how to function with downtime: They feel like they must always be doing something.
    10. Stressed-out kids don't learn to adapt to life's challenges. When kids are constantly anxious because they're being pressured to grow up too quickly, they aren't able to develop the skills they'll need to deal with the unpredictability of adult life. Unstructured play helps kids to learn persistence, creativity, and confidence.
    11. Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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