They are “unconventionally” necessary! A UNICEF report on early childhood development has outlined that the formative years, ages from 0 to 8, in our children’s lives are the most important ones “for cognitive, social, emotional and physical development”. During these years, children absorb what ultimately moulds them into the type of adults they will become.
So with this in mind, my parenting journey has been a very intentional one. Below I share some of the things deemed as unconventional by society, which I’ve taught my daughter, Bontle (8).
1. Big people don’t know everything
Bontle fondly calls all adults “big people”. I’ve taught her that we, as “big people” don’t know everything. Yes, we know a lot of things but definitely not everything. When she curiously asks questions and I don’t know the answer, I always respond with “I am not sure but will do some research so we learn together”.
2. Big people make mistakes too
And we should acknowledge them and apologise (to our kids too) when we do. This is about teaching our children that no one is above the law. It teaches them humility and builds character. As care givers, we are modelling behaviours for our children – let’s model the right ones. If we want them to behave in a certain way, they have to first see it and experience it from and through us. At her age, Bontle understands the importance of saying sorry and mean it. When I’ve made a mistake or spoken to her, sometimes unknowingly, in an untoward manner, she always calls me out. Heck, she calls everyone out!
3. Farting is healthy
All of human race farts. Some animals do too. So why is it that our parents instilled in us, the “fear of God” about farting? According to Harvard Health Publishing, this is healthy and “every human being does it at least 14 times a day”. So, why was it so taboo? Why should it still be taboo to pass gas? In my household, we do this freely. We have normalised it to a point where we’ve composed a jingle on it. LOL
4. No is a full sentence
It’s ok to say no without having to justify herself. The need-to-say-no situations vary. For instance, if she doesn’t want to kiss a grown-up at a family gathering, or have someone touching her hair, she knows to say no without feeling bad about it. Since she learnt this, it’s very rare that I have to jump in to save the day from an imposing adult.
5. Speak your mind
When she’s sulking or acting up, I always say to her “mommy doesn’t have magic. I can’t read people’s minds. So, if you don’t tell me what’s on your mind or how you feel, I won’t know”. This also goes with things that are bothering her. I always urge her to share so we can find solutions together.
What I am striving for is a psychologically safe space for her to grow in. It’s about letting her know that her voice matters and she should not shy away from expressing herself or being her authentic self. It’s about raising a free-spirited, strong-willed woman. I believe this foundation is important for the kind of woman I would like her to become one day.
What are some of your "unconventional" teachings to your children? Share some in the comments below.