As someone who works closely with children, I often feel the need to protect them from the complicated world. Children are naive and their thoughts are pure. We read them stories about how the world is such a beautiful place to live in and it is made of up our lovely friends and family. Good and kind characters often live to a ripe old life and the bad guys always end up with bad edings. We read them fairytales that always project “happily ever after”. The recent NLB saga is the perfect evidence of how parents these days are overprotective, controlling reads containing sensitive issues that are exposed to kids. “They are too young to handle.” They said. “I don’t want my kids to follow their footsteps.” The other exclaimed. Even movies and theatre plays are rated. Is exposure to controversial issues at a young age really a bad move?
I beg to differ.
They would never do something that is considered wrong unless they have been exposed to it. Children fight and argue a lot. But if the above statement is true, then why would they do it? I am pretty sure most parents are aware and is very careful not to expose them to these bad values. Some may argue yes they argue and fight sometimes but their intention is always never to hurt the other party deliberately. They often fight over the silliest reason and they fight because they have no better way to handle the situation. So we try to stop the fights, teach them how to not fight back and reprimand the other party who tried to fight. But the fact is they fight. And is fighting always wrong? While kids need to learn how to handle situations in a better way, they should also learn how to fight back at the appropriate times.
Have you came across kids who shout for their teacher all the time, expecting their teacher to handle their conflicts? Have you came across kids who are completely unaware of what’s happening around the world because their parents want them to believe in a beautiful perfect world? Have you came across kids who believe in Santa Clause up till their adulthood? Have you came across kids who take things for granted because they have always been living in a perfect world? Have you came across kids who show disgust in things they have never seen or experience before?
In my opinion, overexposure is bad but not exposing them and making them believe in the perfect bubble that we created can be equally risky as well.
Kids should learn how to make good decisions that may impact them for life. And how to learn? By exposing them to different issues and allowing them to discuss and debate what’s good or bad for them. There shouldn’t be any perfect answers because if social norms are what make values, then what happens when social norms change? What’s most important is that they should choose base on what they feel is important to them.
For example, in the story Cinderella, parents often focus on the happy endings. Kind person like Cinderella will be able to live happily ever after while the bad guys like their step sisters will not be able to get what they want.
Instead of focusing on the perfect endings depicted in fairytales like Cinderella, why not also discuss about their stepmother and step sisters? Why do you think the mother and father do not stay together anymore? If you were in this family, would you treat your step family members like what Cinderella did? Why do you think the step sisters did what they did? Are they really the bad guys? If you were the step family members, would you behave like what Cinderella’s step sisters did? Getting them to think about what’s different about this family will help them think about the fact that not everyone has a complete family. They would likely form a different perspective the next time they met with someone who is born in a single family.
What kids really need is not avoidance, but rather guidance.The world is not perfect. Do not box them in. Make them think and make the decision that is important to them.