Parental anxiety – should you force your child to do things?
Imagine this: I am working in the kitchen and kiddo is playing with his puzzles. I get a call on Skype from my parents and I see that they are eager and excited to talk to my son. But kiddo doesn’t rush to the laptop. Perhaps he is engrossed in his game. Or maybe he needs some time to warm up to them but for whatever reason, he won’t budge nor raise his head so that they can take a look at him. He is just not feeling it. Repeat this scenario with his other set or grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, great grandma, in short, everyone.
And I can’t help but feel it. Can he not just wave at them? or at least say a quick hello? Feeling the pressure and not wanting the situation to get any more awkward, I tell him to come and say hello, show them some random toy, tell them what you did today, just anything. But as soon as I say those words, I feel guilty for making him perform an act just to satisfy other’s desires. He has told me quite a few times that he does not want to talk and has refused to come into the room. At other times, he is over excited and eager to talk to them and cannot contain himself. But in situations like these you can’t help but feel a bit awkward, guilty for your kid’s sake and even a bit pressurised, can you? I know kids can’t be expected to make small talk and I have absolutely no idea how to change this situation without the risk of manipulating him into talking.
Another incident: A couple of weeks back, we had been to Gambado, which is a soft play centre. There we met a colleague of Saint’s and his family. His son is about the same age as kiddo. His parents kept nudging and telling the little boy to play with kiddo. Now I had never had to deal with the situation where I have to tell kiddo to share and play with others. He does it on his own. Being an only child, I find it amazing that he has the will to share his toys with others. But I know that yelling, scolding or even repeatedly telling your child to share something with another or play with someone is not going to make them do it. It has to come from instinct, compassion and generosity. In the playgroup I have seen kiddo waiting out patiently for his turn to play with a toy and after sometime when the playworker tells him nicely that another boy also wants to play with the said toy, kiddo has promptly let go of it. Kids do listen, nice and easy.
And then there are other similar issues of my misguided anxiety – whether he is eating enough, if he is cold and should I make him put just one more jacket. After all, mothers know best? You do however know that things are going to get bad if they just are. He will catch the cold if it’s meant to be and that is not because of the jacket, wet hair or being barefoot.
I know I have to let him be. All I can do is facilitate his activities or offer him a choice and not push him into doing something he is not ready to do but hell, it is hard especially when all I need him to do is just talk and respond.
I am not being paranoid today, just a bundle of nerves with all these questions. Any ideas? advice? suggestions? All welcome!