How to I prevent my children from growing up too quickly?

Today’s question is from a mother who says, “How do I prevent my children from growing up too quickly?”

I’m sure most of us parents realize, given the space of the modern world, the way our children are exposed to the internet, movies, cartoons and so much more than we had in our days. We see small children, little girls and little boys, who look older than their age, who are developing faster, whose maturity levels, whose information, whose knowledge is so much more than we had at the same age. And this is the result of the vast amount of information, which is available to them.

So this is something that gets very difficult for parents like you and me to control. But yes, there are certain small things that we can do, to see to it that we at least lower the pace of their maturity, and lower the pace of their adulthood, when it’s not meant to be, and to allow them to have the most normal, innocent, sweet childhood possible. So the five strategies for today are:

1) Television. T.V. Sometimes we allow our children to watch T.V, or to watch movies, or to watch cartoons, thinking that they are harmless, and most of them are. But a lot of times we might be seeing them watching a cartoon but the messages that are being given to the children about their bodies, about how they are supposed to look, about relationships, about how they are supposed to behave. And this is what we need to monitor as parents. So just be careful – sit with them for a couple of cartoons or episodes or movies they are watching and see the messages that particular episode, movie or cartoon is bringing. So be tuned in to what your children are watching, on the television or on the Internet.

2) These days we see 10-year-old, 11-year-old girls starting to worry about their hair, about how they look, about their body size and more. Boys worrying about their hair, about their looks – yes! Yes there are even boys who worry about these things. And as parents, what is important for us is that, at 10 and 11, you haven’t yet hit your teens and your really pre-pre-teen, we have to take the focus away from the children’s hair, body and whatever else they are obsessing about, and focus them towards their strengths and their skill sets, whether it is music, public speaking, math, reading etc. So try and take your children’s attention away from their bodies, towards non-physical things. So that they stop focusing their attention on bodies, which at 10, 11, however fat, thing, short, tall, they are not supposed to be doing, towards their core skills and core strengths.

3) Allow kids downtime. You know it’s like at the ages of three and four, kids play with stuffed teddy bears or dolls, or, we used to play “house-house” (in my time) with paper cups, plates, and cooking and kitchen and all of those little things. And allow that. The other day I was talking to someone and their child was crying in the background, and the mother, the quickest thing she could think of, she went and gave, I think it was a three or four year-old, an iPad to play with so that she could continue the conversation with me. And I personally think that is inexcusable; that we, as parents, are finding giving gadgets so quickly to three and four year-olds. And that’s when the addiction starts. Because they drop their Lego and they drop their dolls and they drop their teddy bears, to pick up a gadget that we have actually handed to them and told them that it’s fine to play with it. And at that time when we are busy, that seems to be the easiest route. So please parents, try and refrain from taking the easy way out.

4) That children at the age of seven, eight, nine, ten, they might be growing up, but they still enjoy those cuddles. So spend that extra two-minutes, five-minutes, ten-minutes, lying in bed with them when they are knocking-off to sleep. Maybe talk about your day, their day, communicating, making them realize that you are there for them, to listen and to make then feel seen and heard, and to understand them, offering them unconditional love. So that they know, they are going to be your little child, that they don’t need to be in a hurry to grow up, and that you are there, protecting them, and I don’t mean protecting them in an over-protective manner, but just protecting them in a very nice, soft, parenting manner, so that they feel secure. So keep the communication channels open, encourage your children to play with board games, and make family time to play with board games rather than tech-games.

5) Dressing up. What are you encouraging your children to dress up as? When you go shopping with your children, especially girls, see to it that they pick up stuff that is age appropriate. Clothes that make them look cute and pretty rather than sexy, thin, and appealing. So, focus your attention on your children’s dressing and please take part when you are taking them shopping.

These are small things that we can do to help prevent our children from growing up too quickly. So I hope that answers your question, and today’s action point would be – introduce family game nights into your weekly routine. Maybe Monday’s and Wednesday’s, when you can sit down as a family and discuss which board games you are going to play. So your children and you together enjoy some non-tech and innocent board games and spend quality time together.

So the five strategies for today are:

1) Monitor what your children are watching on TV.
2) Focus your child’s attention on their core strengths rather than their physical body.
3) Allow your children to play with their dolls and their stuffed teddies and their kitchen sets. Allow that innocent stuff.
4) Together as a family, play some board games, teaching your children that there is stuff to enjoy besides the techie gadgets.
5) Dressing up. Monitor what your little girls and boys want to wear so they are cute and child-like and not hot and sexy.

So I look forward to getting more feedback from you and stay in-touch with me via email, sunainaathena@gmail.com or inbox me on Facebook: Athena Coaching Solutions or call me on (+971) 56 1399033.