Why is it important that the stories that are told to children of this age be real and not fantasy based?
Children of this age group need to be in the real world. They are in the process of discovering the world around them, discovering people, and every little thing in the environment. By telling them stories involving fantasy, we will be taking them away from the real world.
In some cases, where there is some vital element missing in a home environment, children of such homes tend to go into the fantasy world that a story has created in their mind and live there. It becomes difficult to get them out of such a state of mind. They might even imagine the existence of a friend or a guardian who will, in their minds, fill up for the void they feel in the real world.
Till the age of 6 years, we do not recommend such stories to be told to children. Although in many cases, nothing happens, but in some cases it has been noted that coupled with a certain situation on the home front, the child appears to be very comfortable in the fantasy world he has created for himself which is not good for his development. Instead the stories based on reality would aid him in understanding the people, animals, plant life and many other facts about each one of them. Stories of life of butterfly, tadpole to frog can be as interesting and exciting as any fictitious story.
Imagination as a human power is in the process of being established; hence imagination linked to reality would be highly beneficial.
Our child is close to 4 years old, yet, he does not want to share his toys with a friend of his age, although they enjoy playing together. Why?
Children generally start SHARING their belongings with others around the age of 6 years. Till then it doesn’t come naturally for them. The more you force, the more they do not like to share their things. It has to come spontaneously for them and that is when they enjoy the act of sharing.
You can always ask your child, before his friend comes in, whether or not he is ready to share his toys. If the answer is no, then tell him to put away his toys and play with his friend some game like hide and seek or run and catch etc which do not require any toys. If he is undecided about sharing, you can ask him to choose his toys and put them into two baskets. One basket of toys can be those that he doesn’t mind sharing and other one can be the toys that are put away when the friend is around.
Also, you can find out if he is doing this because he finds the friend aggressive and a threat for his toys.
When you talk to him and give him the option either to share or not, your child will sense that you understand him. You might also observe better confidence in him.
Besides all this, it is also true that there is nothing wrong in NOT SHARING.
We have never highlighted factors such as darkness, monsters or ghosts etc to be scared of. But our child is scared of darkness. Why?
Many of us are scared of darkness. The idea of stepping into a space where we cannot see anything around is not a very comfortable one.
Monsters or ghosts, these are topics children often hear from various sources. It could be exposure to cinema, or such other media, other children etc. through which your child might have heard about them. Do not take the situation too seriously; but don’t laugh it off either. Your reaction to the child’s statements can actually cause either fear or shame in him. At this age, these fears are very real. So assure him of your help.
Help him overcome his fear by, say, keeping a bed light, a dim one on in the room that he sleeps. Keep a torch light handy for him to check if he feels he saw something under the bed or table etc. Join him to search under the bed or inside a cabinet, if he is scared and assure him there is nothing there.
It is also important to talk to him and find out where his fears are stemming from. Is it because of some show or cinema etc or other children or an adult narrating such instances etc. if you do find any of these, take steps towards cutting out such interactions. Reason out with your child about the facts.
Why should we not ask the child if he wants a brother or sister as sibling?
Why would you want to do that whey you yourself do not know what your baby will turn out to be? When we ourselves do not know if there will be a boy or a girl baby, it is important not to put such thoughts in a child’s mind too.
When a child says he wants, say, a brother or a sister, and it turns out to be the other way round, then he will have problems in adjustment. He will remember that this was a baby he did not want. When he is expected to adjust to various things that are changing in the household because of the arrival of a sibling, this will cause unnecessary discomfort in the child’s mind.
To help him accept the situation better, it is good to tell him he is going to be a big brother. That way the child is better equipped to handle the changes.
What are the steps one should take as a parent of an aggressive child who ends up fighting with his peers or hurting them?
For a child to be aggressive, in many cases, it has been observed that one or both of the parents are aggressive. In that case, it is very easy for him to be aggressive, for he is learning from your behaviour, usage of language or actions.
It is also possible that the child is seeing such behaviour in the movies you allow him to watch, or the company he is keeping. He might have also observed in a bunch of children that the aggressive one usually gets to have his way by bullying the other children. In this age group, some children like villain like personalities, who wield power and authority.
Aggressiveness can also be because of suppressed anger. Try to find out where the anger is coming from. Observe what triggers such anger. Is it because of teasing, physically smaller looks as compared to other children, lack of attention and support at home, loss of a dear one or a pet etc? Understanding the cause of anger in him can help you understand what your child is going through.
If you find that such behaviour is because of the media exposure or friends, cut down on such activities for a while. Advise him that if he continues to be aggressive, he will lose his friends and no child would like to play with him. If you find yourself or your spouse to be aggressive, calm down and be aware all the time that your child is watching and learning from your behaviour.
How to put across our disappointment over the behaviour of a neighbours child who hurt our child, and the mother did not seem to bother about it?
You have to accept one thing and that is “the world is like that.” We cannot discuss this nor can we preach it to people. In case the mother of the other child is your friend, you can politely put across your views. But if you do not know her well enough, it may not be easy to confront her.
In that case, ignore the mother and see if you can talk nicely to the child himself. You can tell him that your son wants to be his friend and so they can play well together. See if you can create some little event that appears special to the children and invite the child over to spend some time with your child playing. Be alert when they are together so that they do not get into any fights or hurt each other. Slowly initiate the friendship, but keep watching them.
In spite of all this, if the child continues to be very aggressive and you find him to be a threat to your child’s safety, advise your child not to play with him.
What are the effects of constant comparison with other children or complaints about his inadequacies on the child?
In case a child is being constantly compared to other or being admonished for his inadequacies, he will slowly lose his self confidence and self esteem.
Firstly, accept your child as he is. He is a part of your own flesh and blood; but he has a mind and intellect which are unique to him. When you accept him unconditionally, as he is, it gives him a lot of confidence. We cannot and should not try to change the basic nature of a person, even though he might just be a child.
If you think your child is inadequate at present in certain aspects, you will be surprised to note his other strengths some time later. In every child, there is something hidden inside that is waiting to be discovered. Look for that special and unique strength that lies hidden in your child rather than looking for something some other child has.
Never correct the child when he is trying to discover himself. The more you go on correcting him, the lower the self esteem in him. Help him build a strong self esteem by believing in his capabilities and encouraging him to pursue his little ambitions.
Although they (older siblings) take responsibility to help their younger peers at school, it doesn’t happen that way at home when it involves helping a younger sibling. Why?
When a child is at school, they see a lot of activities happening around them. One such thing in a Montessori House of children that happens commonly is that the older children help the younger ones in many ways. So, when your child is seeing it happen, he would like to be a part of that and help out the younger ones. It also brings about a sense of being elder- so stronger and wiser, and also being helpful – so a good reputation in the child.
In a home, the same child is getting used to be the older one, hence the aspect of change and so the inevitable adjustments come into his focus. It is instinctive that he does not want to help. At the same time, it has been observed that if the age difference between the siblings is 4-5 years, then the older one is more helpful and caring and he displays such actions too. But if the age difference is 2-3 years, the child doesn’t want to do all that.
It has also been observed, that the child will be more caring and protective towards the younger sibling if the parents are not around.
The child spends a lot of time chatting with his peers at school during meal times and fails to finish his lunch. What can be done? At home too, it happens often.
When the child is spending a lot of time chatting either at home or at school, it can mean that he has a lot of things to share with everyone. His brain is working very fast and he does not want to waste time eating and ignoring the urge to share all that is coming to his mind at that instance. It is fine if he is that way. You cannot remote control what happens at school. So you can try to devise ways in which he can finish his snack or meal as well as have his way and chat with his friends. Try to give him lesser quantities, by lesser we mean, just enough quantities that he can finish comfortably in the given time. If he doesn’t finish even that, give him a nice lunch or meal when he comes home.
Give him a number of nutritious small meals spaced in shorter intervals. Figure out foods that can be eaten easily without much fuss, like wraps or rolls, cutlets, salads, fruits and vegetables, etc. be more insistent at home, when you do have better control over his concentration on his eating and not watching television or playing whilst eating.
Do not go on picking faults with him over the issue. That way, you will make it very difficult for both of you to resolve the situation. It is perfectly fine if the child takes a little longer time to finish his meal. Enjoy his childish chatter, for he is revealing a lot in these conversations.
Just because a friend of his is learning karate, our child wanted to do so too. But his interest doesn’t last long enough. He quits one activity after another, not quite sustaining his interest in any so far. How to handle this?
This age group of children are not yet old enough to be put into hobby classes or any other class for that matter. Only around the age of 7 years you should be thinking of putting the child to classes.
If you are well connected with your child, and have developed good communication channels with him, you can talk to the child about joining such classes, what it takes to be learning that discipline, what are the things he may have to give up to be attending those classes, etc. In spite of your dialogue with your child, if he still insists, you can try out few things
Whether it is music, cricket, dance etc, all these classes can be tried out for a short period of time, if you are able to talk to the teacher at the class about it.
Allow the child to discover his interest. There is no harm in letting him experiment. Let him watch for a period of time and understand the dynamics of a class before he can decide on joining one. Also tell him he cannot quit midway without finishing up to a particular point. Stop yourself from investing in expensive coaching facility or expensive material or gear, which will end in further disappointment if your child decides to discontinue.
When my child tries to compromise with his friend just because he will tell me, does that mean my child is scared of me or my reaction? Or doesn’t he trust my support and love? Have I gone wrong anywhere that he feels that way?
There can be two things happening here. Firstly, he could have done something at the spur of a moment, and he doesn’t want his mother to realise that he can do something wrong. He may not be scared of your reaction but he wants to be the idol (or the ideal child) you think he is. He might also be feeling he will let you down on that expectation of yours.
Secondly, if either of you as parents has been very strict with him, he will definitely be scared to reveal the truth.
But, if the child has experienced your unconditional trust, support and love and acceptance ever since his birth, he might come and confide in you, not worrying about your reaction.
It is also true, that a person cannot be doing all the right things all the time. There will be situations or occasions when we all have and will err. So allow your child to experience it too. When he does go wrong, he will realise how much it means to do the right things. Let him learn through his experiences too.
How to educate our children to identify and stay away from learning impolite, rude or unacceptable behaviour/ language they get to see or hear outside their homes?
Usage of bad or abusive language cannot be stopped. Even if you do not speak such language at home or outside, there will always be someone doing it and the child will somehow imbibe a bit of it from his interactions with the outside world. You cannot stop it. Only thing you could tell your child is that such language is not acceptable at our home and if it is used outside let it remain there.
When the child is very young, he can easily emulate other person’s behaviour, which will enable him at times to pick up bad behaviour. You could point out such behaviour in a jovial manner, by highlighting how he is so good in copying a certain trait in another child that you thought that the other child had actually come home!! Also let him know that you are always available to listen to him and he need not resort to such behaviour to gain your attention.
Whatever the age of the child, it is very important for you to be well versed with the kind of company your child is moving around with. What can be a beginning with picking up a few abusive words can eventually end in getting into addictions like drinking or drugs, if parents remain unaware of their child’s friends and social interactions.