“Mummy, I want to go and play cricket”
“No, no, you will hurt yourself. Play cards in the room”.
“Mummy, I want a blade to sharpen my pencil”.
“You will cut your finger. Let me do it for you”.
“Mummy, can I go to Shalu’s house next door?”
“Wait-don’t go alone. I’ll send ‘Bai’”.
When will parents realize that they can’t protect their children at all times from all kinds of danger? Children, these days, are exposed to many hazards and if a parent wants to keep her child away from it all, she will have either put the child back in the womb or wrap her in cotton wool and stack her away in a fire proof, unbreakable, shock-proof closet! Over protecting a child and showing undue concern, only results in the parent developing ulcers and the child becoming timid and weak. Train your child to face the dangers of life by letting him learn the hard way- but unobtrusively keep a watch on him, lest he hurts himself! It’s like pushing a non-swimmer into the well with a rope round his waist!
The first instinctive tendency of a parent is to protect the child-especially as he is so helpless. This is fair enough. Keep away pointed or sharp toys of lead or any other metal and let him only have soft toys to play with. See that all plug points are well covered if within reach and keep the bathroom door closed. All breakable things can be stacked away and table cloth and other linen he is likely to pull, beyond his reach. If you are living in a multi-storied apartment, keep the balcony door shut and get parallel bars at six-inch interval, put on the windows. All these are necessary precautions you have to take, for the safety of the child. If you are busy in t he kitchen or washing, either put the child to sleep or let him play in a play-pen with his toys. Don’t ever make the mistake of carrying him and go on with your chores.
So far so good. To what extent do you go on taking precautions? This is where discretion and a sense of balance come in. You will have to first gauge the measure of your child’s capacity to take care of himself. When he goes to school, for example, you could start off by accompanying him up to school, then, you could help him cross the road and allow him to make the rest of the way himself; next time you could watch him cross and the last step will be waving him off at the gate. It is important that you simultaneously inculcate a sense of self-protection by making him aware of possible dangers. Teach him to look right and left while crossing the road, walk on the pavement, avoid jay walking or darting across etc.
As he grows older, these constant reminders will become part of his self-preservation kit and he is able to fend for himself.
You must advise your children not to eat food sold in unhygienic places. Some mothers go to extremes when the child is small, to feed him with food sterilized to ridiculous proportions. This way, they only lessen the immunity of the child and lower his resistance. He should be gradually weaned away from boiled bottle and made to get used to the polluted environment.
Let’s go to the playground. Some mothers don’t let their children out of their sight and insist on watching every movement of theirs. A few falls, cuts and bruises will not harm them. To every parent, the child is precious and it is but natural that it should be protected. But if you want your child to be a successful adult who can hold his own, you must let him be a successful child and for that remember, the shell must break, before the bird can fly. The shell of love should not turn out to be a cloister for confinement.