Relax and let them explore

You know these parents who can never relax and always tell their kids to stop doing things, to be quiet, to not run/jump/climb, to do everything exactly the way they are told, etc. They are the ones who stress out the most and end up cutting their kids’ and their own fun short. They are the ones who struggle with controlling their kids and end up yelling/punishing/feeling embarrassed in public.
You know, if you lower your expectations, accept the fact that kids need to explore without being told what and how to do all the time, then you will have a more peaceful life, and your kids will start enjoying theirs more, as well.

Recent example. My kids had a play date at our house and ended up dragging a huge cardboard box, that I set aside for recycling, into our good-sized inflatable pool. The old me, two years ago, would have freaked out and yelled at them, and taken the box away. The new me did freeze inside for a second, but then let go and kept enjoying the day watching the kids explore. They had so much fun, first, trying hard to push the box under the water (good work-out). Wasn’t happening while the box was dry and mostly empty. Then they watched it slowly get wet, and become easier to destroy (science experiment for you right there). Then they started tearing it into pieces and throwing at each other, and making pancakes with the mush (sensory experience). Finally, I checked the pool and discovered that it would take some time to save it, so I involved everyone in helping me out. They got a butterfly net, a bucket, and a colander. Who wouldn’t want to help with such great tools, right? We had another experiment seeing what worked better, and then they wanted to switch with each other to try everything at least once.

Bottom line. Would they have learned all that about cardboard and water had I stopped them in the beginning of this activity? Probably not. After all, no great scientists or curious minds, in general, could grow up in households with too many restrictions, rules, and off-limits simple yet fun objects. Can’t say I was too thrilled about spending an extra 30 minutes clearing the pool that day, but I felt satisfied with my decision, still.

Please, relax more and let your kids explore. This is how we learn about life. This is how we discover new better ways of doing things. This is how you just might end up watching your kid get a Nobel prize for something great in the future. Not that it is important, but thought I’d throw the thought out there. Hint, hint.

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