Parenting: How important is socialising our children?

What children really need is time with you

By Kavita Srinivasan

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Published: Thu 15 Dec 2022, 9:45 PM

There is so much anxiety around socialising our children; that children need social contact in schools with dozens of others to be healthy and well rounded. And so parents stress out about play dates and getting adequate exposure to the social world out there. We don’t want our children to suffer, after all. And then, we put them in playschool so they can be around other children and do not have to be alone at home. I want to preface this with an important disclaimer: If you do not have adequate support and your children going to school is the time you need to get things done or just be, then you sending your children to school, no matter the age, is the right choice because it makes you happier. A happy parent is the essence of good parenting. Socialise your children and send them to nursery early if you need a break; not because you are scared that you will be harming your children if you don’t socialise them.

To reiterate:

• The best thing for children is to have happy and emotionally regulated parents. Address your needs because that is directly fulfilling your children’s needs.

• If you do not need your children to be occupied for your sanity and space, do not do it because you think children need socialising. What they need is close adult contact, not to be surrounded by children.

So when should a child be sent to school?

Children are not meant to, neurologically, go to school till they are seven years old. That is when the right (emotional and instinctual world) and left brain (thinking and logic) get connected through the corpus callosum, a thick nerve bundle. In plain speak: You are rooted in an emotional world that you are able to make sense of and you have a sturdy sense of self. Our children can tell us when they do not feel well, when something is bothering them and, most importantly, they are not dependent on their peers for their emotional wellbeing.

Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in. Society does not tell you the truth and we are wired to do things out of fear, not love. We are scared that our children will suffer, that they will be doomed to an unsuccessful life where they are ostracised and have no friends if they do not start developing the skill early.

If you are confused as to what you must do, just ask yourself: Are you making the decision out of fear or out of love? If it is love for your time, energy and work that propels you to make the decisions you do, then do it. If you are scared for your children’s life if you don’t socialise them, you know what you are doing is not right.

What children need is this:

• Time with you.

• Connection with you.

• Playdates with you.

• Your emotional regulation.

• Your happiness.

Address these needs, not the fear.

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