Fostering a child with food, water and security is one thing, nurturing with affection, encouragement and values is other. It is the balance between the two which leads to the wholesome development of a child. But, childrearing is incomplete unless parents delve deep into the mind of a child to analyze his/her contemporary contemplations and age-appropriate behavior. This essay pertains to the very age appropriate behavior in children (5-13 years old) and how parents act in response to it. The study is based on a comprehensive observation of the interaction between various parents and their children in a playground.
In the playground, for an hour I observed at least 16 kids who were usually accompanied by their mothers. Only two dads had escorted their sons, both for a football session. Most of the kids were 6 to 8 years old. Hardly five seemed to be more than eleven years old; they were apparently away from the central crowd. The team of two elder girls was indulged in talking only; the three elder boys were running around to catch each other. The rest of kids were very young to be playing alone. So, they were playing right in front of their mothers.
It is the first five years of fostering which determine the foundation of a child’s basic nature. He/she observes the parents and other members of family very intently. And most of the shaping up takes place. But as a child enters the sixth year, self-awareness starts to dominate the lessons taught (Author, year- Reference No. 1). In the playground, unlike the four to five years old children, the six years old ones were much more involved in themselves rather than in what mothers instructed. Two sisters were constantly fighting over the
possession of a hair clip and the mother could not convince them for the initial fifteen minutes. But when she finally scolded both of them very harshly, the squabble concluded forcibly. I did not notice those sisters to be playing or talking to each other for the rest of time.
A six years old boy was very keenly involved within himself. He had a prism like object in his hand which he was using as a spectacle and continuously murmuring something to himself. And his mother was not disturbing him at all. Such secluded fantasy plays are usually restricted to very young children between 2 to 3 years old. I did not quite comprehend his behavior to be age appropriate and assume the child to be either a slow learner or an introvert. But such inappropriate behavior does not mean that the child would fail to achieve success in life (Author, year- Reference No.2). As per the Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, everyone has his/her own cognitive abilities; they perceive the world according to their imagination ( McLeod, 2009 ). Gradually with time and experience, their concepts get refined and improved.
The two fathers were training their sons very sincerely for some upcoming tournament, as it seemed from their conversations. Those boys must be at least ten and were very obediently listening to their dads. One of the fathers even shouted at his son for missing the ball, but the young boy did not seem offended at all. Such deep concentration on one’s goal and positive attitude towards parent’s response is rare. One of the probable reasons behind it could be the presence of a strict father and not the lenient mother. However, the aggressive children rarely respond positively to such strictness. So, I would rather commend those boys for being so mature at such a tender age.
Most of the boys from 6 to 8 groups were cycling. I beheld a very strong sense of direction, speed and control over brakes in them. The inherent male quality of inclination
towards driving was evident. Also, the boys were constantly racing along the perimeter of the park and did not form groups with any girl. In fact, they seemed to ignore the few girl bicyclers who joined them. It was apparent that the girls did not appeal to them as a part of the competition. It is quite an age appropriate behavior. Boys repel from girls very stalwartly in this age. Another very age appropriate behavior was seen among a group of girls aged 4 to 6. They were pretending to run a ‘beauty parlor’. Some girls played customers and others, beautician. It was humorous in a way and logical in the other. Girls watch their mother involved in beauty treatments very fervently and hence evolved the game from a fantasy kitchen’s to the beauty parlor.
Most of the kids in the playground behaved according to their age. Gender-segregated plays, self-awareness, reactive aggression and mutual fantasy plays (Author, year- Reference No. 1) are all age-dependent and indicate that the child is evolving as expected. And the parents were also responding accordingly. When the two sisters did not respond to their mother’s instruction to stop fighting, they finally got handled with strictness. It is very important to understand how to parent the children in this age. Children get very concerned about the way they look, behave or perform in a group. So, motivating them with affection and discipline is necessary. Letting loose on rules and an overdose of discipline- both can be detrimental. For the children with intelligence below average, the parents and teachers must understand their weaknesses and believe in their hidden potential (Author, year ‘Reference No. 3’). It is to be remembered that humiliating or demoralizing the kids in this age would only impair the child-parent bond. So, it is the best way to nurture a child by redefining the parenting style after comprehending his/her age-appropriate behavior, cognitive psychology and type of intelligence.
1. Author name (the year of publication). Name of the book. ‘Socioemotional development’. p- 197
2. Author name (the year of publication). Name of the book. ‘Childhood’. p- 198
3. Author name (the year of publication). Name of the book. ‘Setting for development- home and school’. p- 229-230
4. McLeod, S. A (2009)"Piaget | Cognitive Theory". Simply Psychology. Retrieved on October 12, 2012.