Some ideas for toughening 'em (children) up

Parentree-editors 2009-03-12 08:48:43

Your little one cannot stand the heat, the dirt and the flies when he goes vegetable shopping with you? She walks just a little bit, and starts huffing and puffing and complains that she is tired. Our city brats sure can be namby pamby at times. And no wonder, after all we molly cuddle them and limit their exposure to malls, indoor play zones, the movies, video game arcade, sanitized resort vacations, amusement parks or the McDonalds and Pizza Huts of the world.

There is nothing wrong with these, but why limit their exposure and why not expose them to all the other joys and widen their horizons. Of course we all know that walking and physical exercise is a must for all of us. So make them tough 'n hardy with some of these ideas:

  • Take them to all sorts of public kiddie spots.
  • Whenever I go to public parks and spaces like Children’s park in Delhi, Cubbon Park in Bangalore, Besant Nagar beach in Chennai, I always see a majority of the poorer folks and see very few “our kinds” - you know, middle class and upper middle class urban elite. Same is with the aquariums, the zoos, the rail and other museums and other places of amazing fun and wonder. Perhaps our kids are too busy with the routine of birthday parties, extra activities or the mall.
  • They will be exposed to folks from all sections of society and really why deny them these simple joys.
  • Check out our Things to Do collection for ideas.
  • Enjoy the outdoors and nature with them.
    • For example:
      • Take them for short walks or hikes (short treks) over the weekends. Start with small distances and be encouraging. Perhaps even ask another family with kids to join. Carry water and a small picnic. Enjoy nature and the small pleasures of life.
      • If you can, take them camping. They will enjoy the novelty of staying in a tent, cooking on a stove, watching the stars and the “back to basics” simple joys.
      • Have them enjoy the sea, make sand castles and the beach instead of just the sanitized swimming pools in resorts.
  • Make vacation travel also more adventurous.
    • By all means take them for relaxing resort vacations if you want (you work hard and need to relax. Of course!). But add a hike or some cultural sightseeing, local cuisines and local markets and you will add such an interesting dimension for your family. And sometimes even enjoy the down-to-earth basics, even if you have the resources for more. And when you look back, see the photos, these might just be the memories you have.
    • For example, what both my husband and I remember the most of our childhood travels is being stuffed in the family car and stopping to cook pulao with our own stove and provisions and staying with relatives and PWD guesthouses while we traveled. And some more recent memories that really stand out are: eating parathas and karela at the Rodin Museum in Paris during our honeymoon or all four of us walking on top of the Hanuman temple at Kishkinda during our visit to Hampi and including our then 4 year old and not asking to be carried. These are also instances we cherish and love talking about.
  • Encourage physical activity and build up their stamina and fortitude - have them walk and climb stairs as much as possible. For example, instead of taking the car to the local park, get them to walk to the park. Great for their health as well!
  • Encourage them to take pleasure in mundane activities and chores with you.  Some ideas -  Involve them in gardening. Being close to nature, the earth, the sun is rejuvenating and will surely make them tough and less queasy about mud and the earth. Take them for vegetable shopping. Teach them how to select good fruits and vegetables and perhaps even carry a few bags for you. Imagine how good they will feel about themselves as well.
  • Do not just take them to eat at the fancy restaurants, go also to the neighbourhood chaat or dosa place. As long as it is clean and there is a lot of turnover of food and food does not get a chance to stagnate and become stale. You should be careful of the water though and make sure that it is filtered or bottled. They will learn how to enjoy all sorts of places and foods.
  • Be spontaneous. Everything does not have to be planned. Take your family in the garden and get wet in the rain.

Give your children the same chance and ability to enjoy the small joys of life as you did. Make them tough, healthy n hardy and open new doors for them!


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