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Saturday 25 November 2017

My Child is Not What I Want Him to Be

A child sits huddled in a corner of a trampoline play centre, silently crying because he doesn't want to jump on the huge trampolines or climb the rock wall or go through the ninja obstacle course. His father quietly talks to him from time to time, not forcing him but encouraging him. Suddenly the child yells out to someone sitting to his right, "I'm not chicken! You're chicken." From where I'm sitting I cannot see who it is. Please don't let it be the mother. Now he is openly crying. This child is not a young child. He is a young teenager.

It breaks my heart to see this being played in front of me. I tried not to look but it's hard to ignore the dejected figure sitting in the corner. I don't make judgements of the parents, for I assume it was an adult sitting in the shadows where other parents sit and watch their children - another child would have been playing. 

Parents do the best they can with what they know. We think we are helping our child to be fearless and courageous by providing experiences of risk or thrill taking situations. We think we are helping our child get better grades by booking numerous tuition classes. We think we're helping our child become sporty by enrolling them into different sporting activities. Parents do this with the best of intentions. We want our child to be better or become the best.

But have you thought for a moment of what your child really wants and what his personality calls for?

Sometimes, you do need to provide different experiences for your child to grow but do so gently and in increments to get him used to it. If it's a new situation for your child then go with him, take his hand to reassure him and experience it together. Then you slowly take away your support each time he experiences it. (This is called scaffolding in teaching terms.)

If your child needs tuition then choose a class that meets his needs not the advance class or the class with more hours. If your child needs better coordination then help your child select a sport or physical activity that he could be interested in or just go to a park and spend quality time kicking a ball or running or whatever it is that he'll enjoy.

Accept your child's personality. Love your child the way Allah made him. Allah made humans with different personalities. Some are shy while others are outgoing. Some are sensitive while others are bold. Some are still while others are active. We can't all be outgoing, adventurous and physically coordinated. We'd all be clones and that would be boring.

Maybe I can't help that child at the play centre but if I can help a reader who reads this to not force her image of perfection onto her child, to accept her child's personality and have a loving relationship with her child, then my work is done.

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