14 May 2010

Independent Children

I saw this episode Do We Really Have To Play With Our Kids? on momversation.  It got me all nodding and ah-ha-ing.  I don't think this even crosses the minds of lot of moms in the Philippines.  And no, I am not mom-bashing here, I am simply pointing out that most of us don't have to put in 24/7 child care.  If we don't have hired help, we have family happy to help us out.  While yayas are a gift from heaven and let us use the bathroom in peace, work, have dinner with friends, go on dates with our husbands and a hell of a lot more, it can also mean child-care overkill.

I see so many kids that don't know how to feed themselves, dress themselves, pack away their toys, clean up their mess or even carry their own toys.  They probably know but they couldn't be bothered when the yaya is there do it for them.  I certainly see the difference in my two boys, Gael could do all of the above  by the time we had help at home when he was 2 and a half while Aiden was 10 months.  One is incredibly independent, the other one isn't.   Can you guess who?

With the yaya around, kids are NEVER left alone.  Never.  You'd think that in a blink of an eye, they could fall down the stairs and break all four limbs.  Well, technically that could happen in a blink of an eye  BUT with proper education children should know not to go anywhere near the stairs alone.  Or if you don't trust your kids (like me) put a child proof gate at the stairs!  Being alone and playing alone is not detrimental to the well-being of children, on the contrary it is good for them. 

Granted we have help at home and may not need to leave the kids playing alone to cook dinner or hang the laundry.  Yayas also feel that it is part of their jobs to be with the kids at all times unless otherwise instructed.  Paco and I get weird looks when we tell our yaya to leave the kids to play alone or let them fall of the coffee table they are jumping on or let them run fast on hard concrete, trip and scrape their knees.  She's getting with the program but I still catch her holding 3-year-old Aiden's arm as he zooms down the slide head first.

Of course we should play with our kids.  Of course we should engage them.  Of course we should stimulate them.  But it is also necessary to raise independent children that can make wise decisions for themselves, children that are responsible and respectful, children that will use their creativity and imagination productively.  How can they if they are too sheltered and coddled?