Letting Children Be Children

It’s the December month and it has been wet and gloomy. Love the cooler weather but being kept indoors with the boys during the school holidays can be the surest way to drive me up the wall. Imagine them kicking ball in our little apartment. It drives me crazy and sometimes I think it’s their way to test my patience and limit. They are probably thinking, ‘if we make enough noise, Mom may just pass us the iPads!’

I have to admit that it works most times. Other times, I just let them wear themselves out. Occasionally they will surprise me with something pleasant. Like yesterday afternoon, when the younger one got too bored playing with his Lego men and fiddling with my new air diffuser that emits spiraling vapour. He pulled out his crates of wooden blocks and started building, yet another Rube Goldberg machine.

Rube Goldberg machine is a series of devices put together to perform simple tasks. They are linked together to produce a domino effect in which activating one device triggers the next device in the sequence. No, I didn’t introduce it to him, he learned it from YouTube.

As usual, his machine didn’t work well. It failed to set off the kind of chain reactions that he had in mind. We had a good laugh trying to take videos which were interrupted with failed trigger points. He was soon back at working on his next contraption as soon as we finished running through the first one. Sometimes he gets frustrated after multiple attempts but usually he would pick himself up, dust himself off and start again.

I’ve lost count of the number of contraptions he has made, every one is different, some more complicated than others. Sometimes he would exhaust using all his toys and rummage through the house for suitable materials. He could work at it for hours and it was a delight to see him so fully engrossed working at something, determined to get it to work.

It dawned on me that perseverance, grit and determination come naturally when children are doing something they enjoy. They learn through having fun and play give them a chance to practice what they are learning. 

How often do we have to tell our kids that they should keep on trying and never give up? I know I do and perhaps I should feel guilty.

Guilty for failing to realise that they probably aren’t very interested in the first place. Guilty for trying to mold a ‘perfect’ child, when we ourselves aren’t perfect. Guilty for forgetting that play and having fun is essential, even for adults as we get bogged down by responsibilities and routine.

Guilty for expecting the best effort at everything, in the name of character and value building. Can we do it ourselves?  Of course, there is no rules that say that parents can’t expect more from their children but to what end?

Ultimately I think it is not just about aptitude, it’s about passion. By doing what we love, we tap into our natural energy and become our most authentic selves.

So while it may be tempting to plan their days with meaningful play and purposeful learning this school holiday, perhaps we should first cast aside the fallacy that ‘Mom knows best’. More importantly, we should  grant them the space and time to play, to explore, to wonder and to be the children that they are.




  1. Lyn Lee says:

    Agree! My kids have been left to their own devices (not electronic devices haha) quite a bit this holidays and because Slime is Everything these days, they went on YouTube to learn how to make their own (cos they know they don’t have a slime-purchasing type of mum). After many failed attempts (the tiny pools of results I see around the house as evidence), they were so successful that they borrowed my phone to make a ‘pretend YouTube channel’ DIY video, replete with American accents. Haha!

    • Rachel says:

      My boys have yet to try out Slime! Good that your girls are not glued to their electronic devices and it is so cool that they managed to tweak the recipe successfully. Would love to see their video!

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