In a digital age when children grow up embarking on virtual adventures, it wouldn't be too surprising in the future if they become hesitant to leave the cozy comfort of the couch and step out of the door. Unfortunately, much of life happens outside - and with people and animals who get hurt if you sling rocks at them - so sooner rather than later, you would have to introduce the kids to the world.
Many observe that millennials have grown up feeling entitled, and this attitude has a lot to do with how they were brought up. It may not be obvious on the social level, but adults who feel like they own a piece of the world without so much as lifting a finger could spell trouble for all of us, first in the social welfare spending (which taxpayers pay for), then weak leadership and innovation, to name a few. So if we want to have adults in the future who would be more of take-charge leaders and innovators who would push the envelope and discover and invent things for the social good, we have to start training them now in baby steps.
Here are little things you can do at home with your toddlers and young children that would make a huge impact outside the home in the future.
Keep your emotional lid when your child skin's her knee.
It's natural for parents - mothers especially - to freak out at the thought of the child sustaining a bruised or bleeding knee, or catch the cold because the child wanted to play in the rain. Sure, this would mean a lot of work - and medical bills perhaps - on the part of the parents, but safe risks are a gold mine of learning experience for children who, by their very nature, would get something out of an experience whether good or bad.
So allow your child the freedom to climb a short tree or round the bed without you trailing two steps behind, but keep an eagle eye on them to keep their paths free from threatening obstacles, at least until they develop the concept of what will cause a skinned knee or a missing limb.
Give your kids time.
Toddlers do not readily cope with anything new in their environment, whether they came with human faces or not. Expect that a plate of vegetables will go unnoticed, if not pushed away, if you introduce this to your child without a gradual introduction. If you want the kids to adopt a habit of eating healthy, mix a spoonful of veggies in their usual diet, perhaps as a side dish until the child gets accustomed to the presence of the new food in his menu. Maybe a sibling will take a liking to spinach, and inspire the brother or sister to sample the weird-looking food.
Similarly, allow the child to get involved in a wider circle of friends by bringing along a new face to a familiar play group until your child is surrounded by new, but this time familiar, playmates. By giving the child the opportunity to transition from something they are used to to something strange, you also give them time to cope with their unfamiliar feelings about the unknown.
Be vigilant about unconsciously imposing your own fears to the kids.
It's altogether possible for a mother to relay her fears of the outdoors to very young children without her intentionally doing it. It could be that in childhood she lost a brother to drowning, and so unconsciously avoids any activity involving water and depths. She may project her own fears to her children by not including any water-sports in vacations or admonishing the child from not going anywhere near any body of water.
The child may develop aquaphobia in adulthood and may have a hard time shaking it out of her system. In turn, this may prevent the now grown-up child to take up waterborne escapades and related adventures that open up a whole new world to her.
Encourage your child to engage in activities that he genuinely likes.
Many a sob stories involve emotionally hung-up adults due to mom's or dad's uninformed or unrealistic expectations from their children, or worse, imposition of their own unfulfilled dreams upon their offspring. No other parental behavior could perhaps nip a child's sense of freedom and adventure in the bud than parents imposing their wishes on their child. This not only stunts the normal emotional and intellectual growth of children, but also their potential to be the unique individuals that children are.
To encourage this sense of self, set aside your own unfulfilled fantasies and let the children realize theirs. An artful 'I Can' can with strips of statements from children about what they wish to do is a good start. Then allow them to realize the 'I can' statement without making them feel guilty for fulfilling their desires.