• Aileen Pound

Next Gen xx

In a world where our newest generation has to worry about COVID 19, cyberbullying, political correctness (on steroids,) environmental issues, etc. Are we sheltering them from things that will make them stronger and better equipped to handle the world they are inheriting from their parents and grandparents?

Over the past couple of weeks, I've found myself asking these questions concerning how I parent LMM. The first time I started thinking about this was when I read an article in my daughter's school newsletter; in short, the article was about emotions. The general synopsis was, are we so busy making sure our children are happy we are sheltering them from other emotions that could prepare them for life.

Today as I drove home from dropping LMM off at school, I listened to 92.9 (my ultimate favourite radio station), and they were talking about political correctness in schools. One listener called in to say that her child's school doesn't keep score during football matches as its meant to be about having fun, and the next caller said that in her daughter's school, they would have three children per relay race so that each child would get a ribbon.

I started thinking (in between deciding what to get from muzz buzz - my most important decision for the morning) about how I parent LMM. I know that I am guilty of wanting LMM always to be happy; when she cries or is sad, my heart breaks in two, and I go into full-on make my child happy mode. However, it made me realize that I do talk to LMM about emotions all the time; we talk about what each feeling is, why it's essential to feel those emotions, what happens to your body when you have these emotions and how to deal with them to overcome them. I also realized that while I tend to blanket LMM in cotton wool, rainbows, and unicorns, I also allow her to feel other emotions.

When LMM is scared, I tell her it's ok to be scared; I ask her what she is feeling, and then we come up with an action plan to deal with the fear. I then tell her we shouldn't let our fear stop us from at least trying; if she tries and doesn't like something (such as the time at gymnastics camp, she didn't want me to leave her alone for 3 hours) as long as she has given it a go, I'll support her decision from there.

The same applies to when she cries or gets angry; I allow her to cry and be mad as it's vital to know that having emotions is ok, that all feelings are ok. LMM is an only child; I know that I fell short in one area of LMM's growth, playing by herself. For most of LLM's six years, I have played with her and entertained her 24/7. Even after the teachers told me at 3+, I needed to allow LLM to be bored and use her imagination as this was crucial for her development. I had total only child parental guilt and tried rather weakly to improve. Now at nearly 6, I am working extra hard to get LMM to find things to do while mummy "has half an hour to herself" or while "mummy does some chores." while it's a slow process, I know deep down why I should have done this years ago.

So this then brings me to the topics raised on the radio today. I am definitely of the belief that while things should be fun, it's essential to teach our children about winning and losing gracefully. If you don't lose, you don't understand the importance of working hard, training/practising hard to get to where you want to go. If we allow our children to think that everything in life is fair and equal, what are we setting them up for when they go into senior school and the workforce or life?

While I "allow" LMM to win a game here or there (she is only six, after all), I don't allow her to win every game we play. When she throws a tantrum when she loses, I explain to her how it's not fun to play with someone who's a sore loser and that she should be happy for the person that won, and she can do better next time. Then we keep playing until she has won the most games!!!!

Our children are living in a unique time; there are so many things that they can look forward too. They live in a time where science and technology allow them to do and explore things that would never have been thought possible in our time. Medicine gives them the chance to live longer and healthier lives. They have the ability to live outside the box and create a life that is unique for them. However, they also live in a time where while we are advancing in many ways, they are set back by the new challenges this world brings. As parents, it's our job to instil in them not only old values and ways of thinking and being but new ones too.

We need our children to understand the richness of all the crazy emotions they may feel, as these emotions make them want to work harder to be happy and know when someone may be sad to show empathy or compassion. They need to see the importance of winning and losing as that will make them want to fight and work harder for what they want.

As the old saying goes - the children are our future....so we need to give our children the tools to make their future an awesome one xx

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