I want to read to my toddler every night, so that when he grows up, he can be an avid reader.
I want to teach my child how to share, so that she learns to be a generous human being.
Do you see what we are doing here? Even though we intend the best for our children, we focus too much on future consequences. Every experience that we have with our children, turns out to be for something else. In achieving all this, we lose out on the essence of 'just being' with our kids.
So much so that recently scientists and child therapists have been discussing a lot about play, and how children learn essential life skills while playing. So now we want our children to play, (not cause they are enjoying playing, well yes that enjoyment that they feel is a bonus) but now we want them to play cause they will learn essential life skills.
What we don't realize is that it doesn't work that way. When we focus too much on consequences, we not only lose on the essence and joy of being in the moment, while also training our children to not be in the moment.
It also becomes, hard to achieve what we wanted to do, in the first place.
It is very ironic, cause suddenly now the child is not keen on doing any of these things, or even playing for that matter. Cause in one way or another, whether it be through our words, our actions, our gestures, or even just our intent and energy. We have simply taken away the joy from the act, and then we have to force the child to do.
You have to share.
Go play that lego I invested so much in.
Let’s read one more page pls and then you can watch TV. You see what we are doing there. It will never work, to give long term consequences.
Children tend to naturally live in the moment, while we continue to remind them of the past and the future. “I am busy today, but I will take you out for an ice cream tomorrow.” Younger children don’t even understand the concept of tomorrow, and that is why they want whatever they want right now. ‘Later’ is beyond their understanding.
But as they gradually grow, we teach them this concept of future, to the point that they stop living in the present. In the process of doing this we project our anticipation and worry onto them. Slowly they start thinking about things like, “What will happen if I fail in the exam tomorrow?”. Instead they should just be focusing on studying today, but we slowly and gradually rob them of this ‘Joy’ of ‘being’.
You can read to your toddler, if you wish to, for no other reason, but simply cos you want to, and while you are doing that, enjoy that moment with your child, be immersed in the stories, get lost in the fantasy lands. Maybe your child will turn out to be an avid reader, cos of all the stories he enjoyed with you. But whilst we focus too much on the future and what benefits our children will reap 5, 10 or 20 years from now cause of what we are doing today, we are in essence losing out on every moment of the next 5, 10 or 20 years without even realizing it.