Children are people at the peak of their curiosity, wonder, excitement and their ability to learn, develop habits and adapt. Children will ask questions of every nature: funny, insightful, innocent and sometimes they will have these genuine moments of brilliance and ingenuity that will often surprise adults.
The way society is shaped up and the unfortunate firm belief of adults that they are “mature” has always supported the notion that the decisions and problems of adults are more important than those of children. Since the advent of family structures, values and the importance and responsibilities of human relations, children have always been at the bottom of the food chain. Adults always consider what kids do or say as childish behavior, they poorly generalize all the potential and intelligence of a curious young human being to a set of behaviors they expect him/her to have.
I know that children are of course inexperienced and naive, but that does not mean that what they do and think is any less important to what adults do or think. How many times do we attribute a child’s action to just childish behavior? “oh hahaha he/she is just a kid” or “Don’t worry, kids always do stupid and funny stuff”. These are the moments adults neglect their children’s actions and think that their negligence won’t have any long-lasting effect. I often wonder that do they forget how it was like to be a kid? During childhood you are in this ultra sensitive period where people create their impression on you. I will never forget the cousins who didn’t play with me just because I was a kid, the cousins who laughed at me when they caught me doing something stupid or when two of my elder cousins were bullying me by saying that my dad was short in height and their dads were tall and consequently I would be shorter than them. Just for curiosities’ sake, I am taller than both now, but not that it matters because something materialistic like height doesn’t matter to the wise.
I remember when I wanted something and how my parents couldn’t afford it and they would still try to manage the best for me. People think children don’t realize things like this but they do. A child may not know he is being fooled at the time he is being fooled but he realizes it later and may resent you. People think that always stopping a child by making a “harmless” lie or story is a legitimate parenting technique, they need to think it over. Yes, telling your kid’s that when they were born, the angels came to drop them off from the sky is fine because they will discover the truth when they grow up and telling them how a baby is conceived would mess up their childhood and they wouldn’t probably understand. But telling a kid something like don’t go outside “the old man” will kidnap you, or sleep early or the ghosts in the closet will come out. How many of you still race to your bed after turning off the lights? to hide under your blanket so that the ghosts won’t catch you? Some children are afraid of ghosts and the dark and carry these fears even into adulthood, due to the negligence of an adult, who just thinks telling the kid stuff like this will not affect him because he is just a kid.
I am my parent’s only son and I have a younger sister, childhood was tough to me in the sense that I did not have anyone to play with and my parent’s were really over protective of me and didn’t let me play outside (I don’t blame them for this, because both my parent’s parents had raised them in certain ways, my mom was always fearful and my dad’s father was strict and my dad was brought up with the feeling that “you should enjoy time with your family instead of with people outside, good people don’t spend time out on streets, they study and keep it simple”). So I always looked forward to playing with my cousins, I had only one cousin who was my age, others were older and they were friends with each other and not me, I was always trying to find their favor so that they would give me time or consider me as their play friend. I was never fully accepted by them and I would get needy and jealous. The thing is that, we always make excuses to kids, that we are busy or this is not for kids and every kid has a limit of being neglected, we shouldn’t neglect a kid beyond his/her breaking point. I will always remember the cousins who treated me nicely and who didn’t.
The point is, no one takes anything related to kids fairly seriously, “it’s a kids fight”, “kids always cry”, “He is such a spoiled kid”. I don’t think people understand that kids can have psychological problems like stress, depression, anxiety or social pressure. I don’t blame older parents because they were truly oblivious; they thought kids don’t face psychological problems not because they were arrogant or careless but because of the assumption that “kids are weak and act on impulse and desire and that all they do is because of the childishness in them”. This assumption has become a part of our social common sense feeding upon the passing of time. This by far is the worst thing to assume about kids, instead of talking to kids and helping them, parents scold them or beat them. When an adult makes a mistake, he/she just says “Oh sorry” but when a kid does it “stupid, naughty kid, didn’t I tell you to behave?”.
Most kids are misunderstood, I have seen numerous times that a parent was scolding their kid for being naughty but the kid was either trying to do the right thing, or at least he/she thought he/she was. Once my aunt was sick and my cousin who was 5, realized that his mom was sick and in bed so he decided to be the responsible man in the house and he started cleaning the house. While cleaning he dropped a plastic bottle, spilling the liquid inside, he couldn’t reach the napkins so he decided to carry the liquid by cupping it in his hands, it took him 5 turns to carry the liquid from the floor to the sink in the other room, he left a trail of spilled liquid and his mom scolded him when she found out he had made a mess. The poor boy only tried to do his best to care for his sick mom. If an adult had spilled it, his mom would have asked how it had happened first and probably ignore it as an honest mistake, but in the case of kids it is always considered a naughty act at first impulse because kids are “always meddling and wreaking havoc for them”. The irony is that the same adults who think kids are impulsive, are the ones who judge kids impulsively.
Kids are completely developed personalities which adapt and grow as they become adults, the key to understanding children is the same as understanding anyone and that is to see and judge them by putting yourselves in their shoes. Kids have ego, humility, self-respect, expectations, ambitions and perception. When you scold a child in front of his/her friends, he/she would feel equally humiliated compared to a grown human being disrespected in front of his friend and colleagues. The assumption that kids don’t get depressed or stressed just because their problems are small compared to yours, or that their social interactions and what they face are easy and childish. Let me tell you, you are wrong and this is affecting your kid, being a nerdy naive kid and trying to be accepted by others is hard as any other thing. Don’t just tell your kids to stop complaining or crying, ask them what’s wrong and help them as a friend. If they do something harmful to themselves and they are sad, don’t scold them, console them. Would you scold a person who is unhappy or would you sympathize with him/her? Kids who are irritating and needy are always unhappy inside.
Lastly, the problem with society is that it needs to recognize that psychological pain is as grave as physical pain. Most society doesn’t acknowledge this for adults, they probably don’t acknowledge this even a little for kids. Children face stress and depression more grave than ours. I was relentlessly bullied in school because I was fat and the boys would make fun of my “fat ass”, I was scared, naive and didn’t tell my parents about it, fearing that if the boys found out they would bully me more or worse beat me up. I got irritating and hot-tempered at home then, I didn’t want to study, I didn’t want to meet anyone. Video games and books were my only salvation back then. My parents scolded me for not studying, I was so weak that every time I tried to argue back I started to swell up and didn’t argue further. They misjudged me, like all adults misjudge kids, not because they didn’t care, but because they didn’t know, because kids don’t know about therapy or that they should disclose their problems, they only know fear and when adults scold them or caution them for every mistake, how do you think a kid would learn to accept his confess his mistakes and accept them? Just because a kid is a child and apparently has no big worries in life, like you do, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have weight on his shoulders like you do. No problem is bigger or smaller for the one who is facing it.
I am 21 years old and my best friend is my 14-year-old cousin, we have been best friends since he was 5. His mom and brothers think I am a loser who doesn’t have any friends his age, maybe I am a loser for others in this sense, because I really don’t have many close friends my age, my past has scarred me but not damaged me enough that I would give up my principles by abandoning the innocent for the fun and ecstasy of the misled and become like the people I always hated(the one’s who only cared about height and status), I enjoy the innocence of his company, the insight-fullness of his questions, his love for me. I feel proud to make friends with a happy innocent soul. I understand him, give him advice. He has the same situation I had, he has brothers way older than him, and no cousins his age either, I was the friend he needed and came to. I will always be his friend so that he never feels like I did. Be your children’s friends, hear them out as you would hear out a person’s last wish on his death-bed, answer them as if their question was as important as the one that would win you a million dollar lottery and try to understand them as you would try to understand a wise scholar.
P.S I love my parents, I am nothing without them, whatever I have, I owe it to them. I don’t blame them for anything, because it was not their fault that I was bullied, they always did the best for me according to them and the way they were raised. It was the bullies fault and of society, that we have not developed or matured enough to understand children properly.