There are plenty of reasons why you should make sure your kids enjoy their childhood and try to protect their playful innocence. That comes with making sure that they enjoy what kids want to enjoy from riding a bike to watching cartoons and snacking on junk food once in a while. But as they grow it become more of a battle to keep it that way, easily forgetting that your children grow and you have to give them room to do so with a small peak of adult life once in a while. This helps them not only appreciate the day to day grind that you do but also prepares them for what to come. In many cases it gives them greater appreciation and helps them enjoy their short term childhood even more before it changes completely. This can mean many things, but always small steps that are more symbolic than anything, some of these ideas will help boost their confidence level and slowly ingrain the concept of respect as they mature.
- At some point have them try the untouchable drinks (i.e. coffee, tea or wine). A small sip gives them that giddy pleasure, in most cases they will hate it but they will get a sense of growing up and someday expanding their pallets.
- Ask their opinion on random things from the room décor to how clothes look on you (not on them). Ask what they think about certain issues and listen to their answers, this is a skill that’ necessary throughout their lives where you actually hear what they have to say rather than just tell them what they should be doing. You can even look at a map and discuss with them which route you should take on your Sunday drives.
- Talk to them about other people, but not in a bad way like gossip. But you can tell them the back stories of their grandparents, explain the school problems their uncle had with bullying when he was a kid, or talk about their aunt’s wedding and how special it was. It rounds out the personalities of people they know with stories they would have never known about them.
- Taste test food, even if it’s food they probably won’t eat. But ask them if it needs more salt, less sugar, how to garnish, what if it cooks a little longer etc. This also gives them enhanced appreciation for all the effort that goes into cooking. You can even ask them what bowl or spoon you should use to serve, just to have them understand the complexities of the coking process that they (and most of us) take for granted.
- Invite them to adult conversations, talking about environmental issues or crime. Hear them out, don’t just shut them out when they ask a question and say “it’s too complicated” or “I’ll explain another time”. Include them in the conversation and when you have the conversation be prepared for a million questions that are more often than not hard to answer.
- See a PG movie together (not a cartoon), perhaps something version on the tween genre. They may not watch the whole thing and when they leave you can certainly change the channel, but it gets them to start exploring other mediums, story options and see another form of entertainment. It is easy for them to silo themselves with just cartoons, especially with the 24 hour channels that focus on one thing. When we were kids we had no choice because cartoons were only on for a few hours in the day, so we watched whatever there was, a soap opera, America’s Funniest Videos, or the Gulf War! This gave us a range of TV experiences, and not just the one binged out same show.
- Take them to daily errands (garage, supermarket, Post office). This will show them how to interact with others, how you go about your day to day, how things work,, social nuances. We take these routines for granted but we forget in this day and age most kids aren’t exposed to these simple tasks making them less versatile and adaptable in the future.