The mistake of prolonging the children's childhood
"You have to let them grow." This slogan of an ad in defense of smaller fish could also be applied to children in an ambivalent society that makes them older for some things - like new technologies or fashion - and yet keeps them stuck in childhood for others much more important, those that shape their maturity and self-esteem, their resilience and the conformation of their personality.
A common mistake of many parents is to pretend prolong the children's childhood beyond what is due, preventing them from learning to assume responsibilities. Some parents feel that their child is never old enough: they help him constantly, they watch him, they tell him what to do ...
The risk of prolonging the children's childhood
There are also many parents who have an ambivalent stance: on the one hand, they overprotect the children by solving all the problems and doing everything for them, and on the other they leave them exposed, without protection, and without being prepared for it, to the dangers of environment: Internet, television, night time ...
A child of eight years today knows a lot about sex and has seen many scenes that should not see, however it is possible that at this age still believe in the Magi.
Parents should keep in mind that a child is not born responsible or irresponsible. Responsibility is not a virtue acquired spontaneously with age. You have to learn to be responsible. From an early age we must accustom our children to do things by themselves and to be autonomous in everything they can reasonably do on their own. And, as they grow up, provide the child with an environment in which they are allowed to make decisions.
There is no responsibility without freedom. Parents should not just tell their children what to do but help them make their own decisions by addressing their responsibilities.
By your side when you make a mistake
We must show our children that we trust them, that we know they are capable of fulfilling and that we expect the best from them. Also that nothing happens because they make mistakes, you learn a lot from mistakes. We should encourage them to try those things that we think they are capable of, without doing them for them or replacing them, knowing that if they fail they will not lose our affection and affection, and that we will be there to give them support when they make mistakes.
All children are born wishing to be loved and accepted by their parents and by others: they have an innate need for positive consideration. However, the positive consideration of parents often depends on the behavior and successes of the child: "show me you are a good child and get good grades" or "I would like you to win the tennis match".
For a child to have an adequate development, it is important that the positive consideration is unconditional: that parents and significant adults accept the child unconditionally, communicating that they love and value him for himself and not for the good or bad that he does things . In this way, children learn to accept negative experiences and mistakes instead of denying them. They learn to accept themselves, with their weaknesses and shortcomings, developing an unconditional positive self-consideration: they accept themselves as they are, trust in themselves, follow their own interests and begin to adopt the characteristics of a responsible person.
The sensitive period of responsibility
The best age to develop responsibility is between seven and twelve years, since at this age there are a series of sensitive periods that facilitate the learning of this virtue: the desire to be well, the desire to excel, the desire to help, the development of moral conscience ... A child who These ages have learned to be responsible and will be more prepared to face the crisis of puberty and adolescence.
In addition, around the seven years there is a progressive development of moral conscience. From this age they become capable of weighing and analyzing the reasons and consequences of their actions, to discover what is right and what is wrong. We must take advantage of this stage to form their conscience in an atmosphere of affection but also of discipline and exigency. In this way, we will be favoring the development of the personality.
However, you can start much earlier by assigning commissions or responsibilities and supervising and praising their compliance. Having an assignment at six years makes it possible for the fifteen to consider it logical to collaborate at home. If, on the other hand, we wait until it is older to demand it, when it reaches adolescence it will be much more difficult.
The limits to freedom
The balance is complicated since, together with freedom and responsibility, parents must maintain the guardianship of their children.Children, regardless of their age (even if they are 28 years old) should be clear that, while they live under our roof, they must respect the rules and authority of their parents and consult with them about important decisions that may affect the family.
In the case of preadolescents, we will have to help them discover that true personality is demonstrated by knowing how to be responsible, knowing how to say no. Help them understand that freedom goes hand in hand with responsibility and that they must calibrate the consequences of their actions, and consult us in case of doubt, before undertaking them.
Dr. Teresa Artola González. Professor University Center Villanueva