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15 Things We Shouldn’t Stop Kids From Doing

15 Things We Shouldn’t Stop Kids From Doing

All children are naturally curious about any and everything the world has to offer. Kids are literally real-life “noobs” who find every new experience interesting, intriguing, and exciting. They react to positive and negative stimuli with extreme emotion because they essentially don’t know how else to react. Simply put, children live all of their experiences to the fullest, whether good or bad.

As we grow older, we remember less and less about what it was like to be a child and to be constantly amazed at the world around us. And once we have kids of our own, we start thinking that they should simply act like we do. We need to remember that children are still learning about life and everything it encompasses. And we could definitely learn a thing or two from them while we’re at it. Think twice before intervening when children do any of the following:

1. Crying

Our first instinct when a child cries is to run to them and find out what’s wrong. While it’s definitely okay to show that you care for a child, you shouldn’t try to stop them from crying altogether. Crying isn’t comfortable; if they could stop, they would. But sometimes they just need to let it out. And it definitely doesn’t help the situation if you’re standing over them demanding they tell you what the problem is over and over again.

2. Laughing

I know, who would stop a kid from laughing? Of course, laughter isn’t always appropriate under certain circumstances, and it’s important to teach your children about these situations. But like crying, laughing is an involuntary response that can’t be controlled at times. When I worked with children, I never got upset with them for finding something so funny that they couldn’t stop themselves from laughing. Isn’t life supposed to be fun? Instead, I’d ask them to leave the room to compose themselves, but there was no reason to get upset with them for catching a case of the giggles.

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3. Fooling around

Alright, so this is a little more controllable, but what’s the point of life if you’re going to take it so seriously? Don’t you remember what it was like to be a kid and so carefree that you actually had the time and energy to goof around? I’m not saying you should let your children act inappropriately, but what’s so bad about hiding in a clothes rack at Target to mess with your sister? When’s the last time you had that much fun at Target? Like I said before, maybe we could learn something from our little rascals.

4. Jumping in puddles

Watch this video, and you’ll immediately want to take your kid outside and dance in the rain. Okay, so their shoes will be wet, and you might have to wash them. I’m sorry you’re the adult, but as old Blue Eyes says, “That’s life.” This is another one of those moments that you forgot is actually fun to little kids. In their own way, they’re experimenting with their surroundings. Let them have their fun while they’re young enough for it to be socially acceptable.

5. Making a mess

Whether or not they mean to be, kids are messy little humans. But again, what’s the worst that could happen? Perhaps you’ll have to scrub the floor, do some laundry, or repaint the entire house (okay, maybe not that last one). But if your kid spills paint on her shirt while she’s creating a masterpiece for the fridge, can you really get upset with her? If they’re being careless, that’s one thing. But mistakes happen. Don’t discourage your kids from getting their hands dirty in the name of art or science. Those worms aren’t going to dig themselves up, you know.

6. Reading

You’re probably thinking, “Who would stop a kid from reading?” Sadly, I’ve heard plenty of other adults tell students to put away comic books and take out “a real book.” Okay, so they were reading, and fully engaged in their reading, and you want them to stop and read something that you consider interesting instead? What if I told you to watch wrestling instead of So You Think You Can Dance tonight? I bet you’d choose to just not watch TV at all. What do you think a kid will do if you restrict what he’s allowed to read?

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7. Playing an instrument

I’m looking at you, Homer Simpson. When kids start showing an interest in a musical instrument, parents usually feel a mix of excitement and trepidation, knowing they’ll be dealing with squeaky scales and repetitions of Hot Crossed Buns for the next month or so. While you should definitely put a limit on how late your child is up practicing his tuba, you should never discourage him from picking it up when he feels driven to practice. Even if it interferes with your after work nap time.

8. Focusing on an interest

This goes along with the last two sections. There was a popular commercial a few years ago in which a girl’s parents and teachers constantly dissuaded her from learning about science, power tools, and other so-called “manly” things. How can children ever break the mold and grow into adults that will change the world if they’re constantly being told to fit in? Just because a kid is into something you don’t think they should be into doesn’t mean you should stop them from pursuing their passion.

9. Arguing with a friend

I’m not saying you shouldn’t monitor the situation when you realize two friends are having a fight, and you should definitely never let it come to blows. But children need to learn to sort their arguments out on their own. You can certainly act as a moderator, but you should let both parties come to the realization that they both were most likely somewhat at fault, and that they can also both put their differences behind them and move on.

10. Doing homework

Seriously, who would stop a kid from completing their obligation to school? But, remember all the other things we sign our kids up for in the name of preparing them for life? “Hurry up and finish your work, you have karate and baseball practice tonight! And you can’t do it in the morning because you have choir!” Sound familiar? I know, we want our kids to experience as many things in life as possible, but we can’t let them burn out, and we certainly can’t force them to shirk one obligation in favor of another.

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11. Trying things on their own

Many kids don’t want to admit that they need help doing something. Most kids don’t think they need help, and will try to go about doing something their own way time and time again until they’re physically and mentally exhausted. I’d often see kids working on a math problem, knowing they’re doing it incorrectly, and let them finish anyway before I intervened. They learn much more by trying, failing, and trying again than by being caught before they fail in the first place. Let them scrape their knees when trying to ride a bike; it will make mastering the skill that much more rewarding for them when they finally do get it on their own.

12. Expressing themselves

Be honest: If your 13-year-old son came home with a green mohawk, how would you feel? I imagine your first thought would be, “What are people going to think if they see my son and me together?” Let kids experiment with who they are. Again, they’re new to the world, and simply trying to find their way through it. And if they simply follow in everyone else’s footsteps, they run the risk of becoming another office drone. They have their entire life to toe the line for their boss and society in general; let their voice be heard while they’re still young.

13. Being weird

As if dying your hair green isn’t weird enough. But again, let them push the limits of social boundaries. John Waters is a bit weird. Robin Williams was too. And I can’t imagine what Jim Carrey was like as a child. He was probably a nightmare for his parents and teachers. But I also bet they (at least some of the time) let him get away with some ridiculous stuff. Kids don’t have to fit any kind of mold yet; again, that’s for boring adults with boring office jobs. They’re not there yet. Let them experiment with their weirdness, and see where it gets them.

14. Playing

You should probably know by now that play is the work of children. And, ironically, when children play, most of the time they’re emulating “grown up” jobs. They play house, teacher, doctor. They build things. They dig for stuff. When you think about it, isn’t it amazing that kids find the stuff we think of as boring work-related tasks interesting and entertaining? Too often, we beat it out of them (not literally, I’d hope) by putting them in various structured activities (like I talked about before). Let them have time to play and find their true passion on their own.

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15. Growing up

This whole article was about letting kids be kids, so this part probably comes as a surprise. However, I think most parents reach a point where they realize they had forced their kid to grow up too fast, only to want them to stay young forever. They’ll always be your baby, but they won’t always be a baby. Once the time comes for them to get their license, graduate high school, and move away to college, it’s time to start treating your kids as what you’ve always prepared them to be: responsible young adults.

Featured photo credit: Flickrr via farm1.staticflickr.com

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Published on September 21, 2018

11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

Becoming a mother is one of the most difficult challenges a woman can take on in her life. Whether this happens the “natural” way, with the help of science, or through adoption, being in charge of nurturing another human being is a herculean task to take on.

Typically, when we think about parenthood, we imagine two parents sharing the responsibility and having each other to lean on. However, according to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are being raised by a single mother.[1] This is a significant portion of the population that often gets overlooked.

If you are one of these mothers raising your children on your own, you are undoubtedly aware of the additional challenges that motherhood has placed upon you, including the constant struggle to find sufficient time, energy, money, and support.

For single mothers who find themselves bogged down by their daily responsibilities and struggle to stay afloat, don’t be fooled by the belief that you have to do all. It is possible to thrive and live as a single mother if you take advantage of all available resources and adjust your priorities based on your situation.

1. Find your community and ask for help

As the sole caretaker of your kids, going through the successes and struggles of parenthood can feel isolating and lonely. You have probably developed a strong sense of independence because you’ve had to go at it alone.

Being self-reliant is necessary in many situations that you have to face, but do not fool yourself into thinking that you don’t need support from others. If you have family nearby, strengthen your relationship with them by visiting and talking more often. Find time to catch up with old friends or co-workers, and don’t assume they don’t want to hang out if they are not parents themselves.

Would you prefer finding mom friends[2] who have more in common with you? Use resources like apps, Facebook groups, and community events to meet local moms in your area.

After you have established a support group that you can depend on, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is NOT a sign of weakness or incompetency to admit you can’t do it all, and others are probably more willing to lend a hand than you think.

If you feel uncomfortable burdening others, suggest trading favors such as taking turns babysitting. Because after all, helping is each other is what community is all about.

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2. Make peace with the past

Before you can move forward, you must make peace with your past and not let it define you or rule your life. Whether your journey to single motherhood was through divorce, death, or never having a relationship the father, it is crucial that you leave behind the feelings of abandonment or betrayal you may be struggling with.

You cannot change the past and the hurt you had to endure, but you can use the strength that you gained from overcoming those obstacles to work towards making the best life for yourself and your child. Learn from the past but live in the present and look towards the future.

3. Make plans and set goals

The daily repetition of trying to balance work and home life can make you feel like you are on operating on autopilot. However, it is imperative to set goals for yourself and to keep working towards self-improvement.

In your personal life, you can set a fitness goal (train for a 5k), a reading goal (read 20 books in a year), or a travel goal (take a trip to Europe). At your job, you can set career goals such as gain leadership experience, get a promotion, or earn a degree or certificate.

Spend time creating a realistic plan to on how you can go about achieving these goals. Not only will working towards these goals make you a more well-rounded and successful person, they will bring more purpose and fulfillment to your life.

4. Look for role models

A great way to jump start your plans for the future is to find a role model or mentor who is further along in their life or career experience. This person can be a great resource when you need guidance on what types of goals to set for yourself and how to achieve them.

It’s also important to have people to turn to for encouragement during difficult seasons of life. Someone who has been through it before can provide the most genuine reassurance that tough times will get better and that staying positive is best approach.

5. Rethink your priorities

Single parents have twice as many responsibilities to take care of, so priorities and expectations must be adjusted accordingly.

Know that you are not superwoman and striving for a perfectly clean home, no dirty laundry, and home-cooked meals for your kids every day is not a reasonable expectation. It’s okay to take shortcuts sometimes, like serving your kids cereal for dinner or waiting until the next day to wash the dishes.

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Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and let go of the guilt that you feel for being the only parent that your kids can count on. Give yourself a break and don’t sweat the small stuff.

6. Make time for me time

Even though it can be difficult to find, making time for yourself is critical to maintaining your sanity and well-being. Without a built-in partner to take over, finding time to be away from the kids must be done intentionally and planned in advance.

If you are sharing custody, use the time away from your kids not only doing productive things but also making sure you are taking care of yourself. Sleep, exercise, and balanced diet are not things that can get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Also make time for fun activities, such as hobbies and creative outlets.

Even though being a mother is the most important job you have, don’t let it be the only thing that defines you. Time for yourself is more difficult to find if you are the sole caretaker of your kids.

Use the resources that you have to devote time to self-care, and you and your kids will thank you for it in the long run.

7. Stay organized

With so many things to juggle, great organizational skills are an absolute must in order to keep everything moving smoothly. Use apps such as Mint for your finances, Mealime for meal planning, and Cozi as a family organizer for everything from appointments and shopping lists to after school activities.

Maintain constant contact if you are sharing custody so that it is clearly communicated who will be responsible for what when it comes to your kids. Follow consistent routines in the morning and nighttime so that your kids also know what to expect on a daily basis.

8. Be flexible (Don’t be a control freak)

Although it is important to be prepared and stay organized, things don’t always go according to plan.

When kids get sick and have to stay home or babysitters cancel at the last minute, allow for flexibility by having a contingency plan for childcare and with your employer.

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For example, make a list of people you can call when you need last minute childcare, or talk to your boss in advance about working from home when emergencies come up.

Most of all, don’t let unexpected changes stress you out and ruin your day.

9. Learn to say no (Don’t feel guilty)

Single mothers have limitations in time, energy and resources that families with two parents wouldn’t be able to understand. Because of these circumstances, it’s important you let go of feelings of guilt and stop trying to do everything and be everywhere.

You don’t have to say yes to every single birthday party your child is invited to. Your kids don’t have to be involved in sports and extracurricular activities every night of the week.

Limit the things you do to only the ones that are the most enjoyable and meaningful for you and your family. Doing more things does not make you a better mother; simply a more tired one.

10. Live within your means

When you have to raise your family on a single income, budgeting and spending within your means becomes more important than ever.

If you have outstanding debt that is accruing interest, make it a priority to pay those off as soon as possible. Outlining a budget is the best way to visualize how much money is being spent every month on various things and what is left over.

Find ways to save money on the necessities by looking for sales at the grocery store, buying some things secondhand, planning out meals.

After the necessary bills are paid, determine how much can be spent on luxury items such as eating out, vacations, and going to the movies.

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Don’t let finances be a source of anxiety for you and your family. Keep your bank account in good shape while teaching your kids how to spend money responsibly at the same time.

11. Spend quality time with your kids

The time you spend with your kids is so precious and much more limited as a single mother. Make the time that you spend with your kids count.

Rather than sitting in front of the TV, take them on fun and budget-friendly outings to the park, the playground, or a museum. Use meal times as the perfect excuse to ask them about what they are learning in school and the friends they spend time with.

When your kids ask you to play with them, look at it as a privilege and an opportunity to bond with them, rather than a distraction or waste of time. Be present when you are with them, with no work or multitasking on your mind. Your relationship with your kids will absolutely reap the benefits.

Final thoughts

Being a single mother is not an easy job. That’s why it’s important to use all the resources available to you in order to make this job a little bit easier.

Using technology, an organization system and a supportive community are just a few examples of things you should utilize to your benefit. It’s also important to shift your mindset and be more practical when it comes to things like priorities and finances.

Most of all, don’t forget about your own self care. Only when you take care of yourself can you best take care of the people you love.

Single mothers are some of the most hard-working people out there, and you deserve to have a happy and fulfilling life.

Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

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