What do Kids need the most – Freedom & Responsibility or Attention?

The Independence day fever has not yet subsided in my house. My kid is still relishing the stories about the Indian Freedom struggle and History. So we keep pouring over our history books and digging deeper to understand what freedom meant to our ancestors and what they thought were their responsibilities to their country, parents, and fellow humans. Like any other typical nine-year-old boy my son is full of questions about the feelings of those freedom fighters and what they thought was right or wrong. Were they seeking attention from others or were they doing this out of their pure internal motivation. His questions have put a couple of thoughts into my head, resulting in this post as well.

As a Montessori parent, I firmly believed in pre-defined freedom. The freedom within set boundaries. My child is free to choose his work and area of study on a daily basis. I don’t remind him multiple times about the completion of the task. My expectation is that he would complete his task on his own. This indirectly teaches him to be responsible for his own studies.

Now you might wonder, how can a nine-year-old boy be responsible for his own studies. Given a chance, most kids of his age would like to while away the time with gadgets. Then how can a Montessori child display that sense of responsibility? That’s because the Montessori environment allows the child to experience freedom in its truest form. To experience that freedom, the child has to develop first internal self-discipline.

What do Kids need more - Freedom and Responsibility or Attention

For example, most parents wouldn’t allow the child to light a matchstick on their own for the fear of fire. They scare the child and keep the matchbox out of the way for the kid. As long as you keep it away from the child, the child will never know how to light the fire isn’t it? But in a Montessori school, the supervising adult would show the child how to light the fire in a safe way first. If required, the same presentation would be repeated multiple times, till the child gets the confidence. Then the child would practice the same with minimal adult intervention or supervision. The adult wouldn’t be hovering behind the child when the child is lighting the matchstick for the first time.

The freedom to light a matchstick on his own gives a sense of achievement in the child. That sense of achievement paves the path to the responsibility of not causing the fire accident. So in the above simple activity, we can see the child exhibiting both freedom and responsibility simultaneously without anyone mentioning it specifically. Also, this presentation wouldn’t be given to the child unless he shows that he can handle the dangerous objects without causing harm to himself or to others.

Freedom and responsibility in Kids:

Freedom and responsibility are two sides of a coin and both have to be taught at the same time to kids. Freedom without responsibility is just letting the child fly like a kite without the holding thread. The responsibility without any freedom is drudgery and the kids would do the tasks just for the sake of completion, but they wouldn’t enjoy them.

To enjoy the privileges of freedom, one needs to know its limits and follow the rules correctly. As parents, we observe the children and increase their freedom limits based on how responsible they have become while playing or executing their tasks.

For example, the toddler starts with a tricycle first and then graduates to the cycle with training wheels. Only when the child is able to pedal the cycle completely, without anyone holding them, and are able to balance them better (their legs landing firmly on the ground), the parents would remove the training wheels from the cycle. This is nothing but expanding their freedom limits with respect to the cycle for the child. The parent would make this decision based on the child’s behavior that he is able to take on new challenges/freedom through his actions.

How to inculcate Freedom and responsibility?

As a parent, the typical question which nags most of us is how to inculcate the responsibility in kids? In order to inculcate the responsibility, we need to involve them in the decision-making and make them feel like an equally responsible member of the family when compared to the others.

Once we involve our kids in helping us around the house, instead of nagging them to complete the chores, the sense of belongingness would start developing in the child. Once the sense of belongingness comes, being careful and responsible would become their next logical step for the kids.

When the child is allowed the freedom within certain well-defined limits, the child would automatically develop self-discipline and responsibility. Based on their further actions and readiness to take up the new challenges, the parent can expand their freedom limits.

So, in a nutshell, the child needs to be involved in various chores around the house and give him the free space to develop his sense of accomplishment. There are a lot of chores lists available on the internet for the kids based on their age. Even if we don’t want to depend on those predefined lists, we can start introducing different chores based on their interest and age at home. Parents always know what’s best for their kids. So observing the child and his needs is one of the critical art forms that the parents have to become experts with.

Freedom and Responsibility post by Mommyshravmusings

What about Attention?

Most parents like to believe that the children need more attention and as mothers, they need to take care of every whim and fancies of their child. They sacrifice all their time and efforts to do that. But in turn, this behavior only develops the stress on the mothers and also makes the kids too dependant.

Everyone wants to be pampered and treated royally and kids are no exception to that. But too much pampering only results in dependant kids. Their self-confidence levels will be lower and we will not have independent kids. When the parents involve the kids at a young age in the household chores, the kid’s self-confidence levels will not only grow but will make them more responsible kids of the future.

So, as parents, we need to cherish the kids and show them that we do love them completely, irrespective of their actions. But providing unnecessary attention would only end up spoiling them. So, all this unnecessary attention would make the child crave more, becoming toxic after a certain point of time. So providing the appropriate attention at the required time is the first responsibility of the parents.

Blog post Bio

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla and sponsored by Bakez by Daizy.

You can read more of the similar articles in my recently published book on “Practical Tips for Kids Mental Health” on Amazon. This post is powered by #CauseaChatterfrom Blogchatter.

51 Comments

  1. Nice post , at home we also do the same , my kids are cooking and I supervise them , they have learnt baking and Little bit of cooking ? We need to encourage them so that they learn and get confidence.

  2. If only more parents (and grandparents) understood this!

    I don’t know what the age-appropriate chores are for my 5-year-old, but I allow him to do his work on his own–especially if he wants to try.

    But when it comes to studies, my son won’t sit still for too long. We’re still working on it. He studied for 2 years at a Montessori school, but due to the pandemic school has become confined to the laptop.

    I do try to give him a Montessori environment at home — and his school provides guidance in this direction — but I feel so bad that he’s missed out on an enriching experience with friends and teachers.

    1. Yeah, the same thing even my son is missing that enriching Montessori environment. I know those seeds of independence and self-discipline have been sown in him while he was at the school. As I see those traces every now and then. But still struggling most times. So this article is in a way to tell myself about the beauty of the Montessori system

  3. Very well-written post. You’ve explained the points perfectly. I always like to give freedom to the kids, because this makes them responsible after some time. Attention is definitely necessary, but too much attention can lower the confidence in them. Freedom and attention both should be given, but in a balanced manner.

  4. Being a parent is like walking a tightrope. You have to be mindful about which way you need to tilt to keep the balance. Your suggestion of including them in household chores is a very wise one. Posts like these are bound to be a very helpful read to other parents.

  5. It needs to be a delicate balance of both. Too much of either is just as detrimental. I am sure a lot of parents out there would be able to identify with this.

  6. Loved the article thoroughly. Children should be allowed to experiment on their own while parents keep an eye on them from a distance. This inculcates a sense of responsibility in them.

  7. I can vouch for it Harjeet, thats why your kids have settled so well in life dear. Only when we teach our kids these basics, they will grow into the complete human being as Raymonds ad says

  8. Very nice read and much required for kids of today as they need to learn responsibility. May parents given them freedom in terms of going out to play or with friends and hence with money as well. Teaching the child early on what is right and wrong, what is acceptable or not will go a long way to making them responsible. And yes you are right both freedom and responsibility go hand in hand.

  9. Thought-provoking. I liked the sentence, freedom and responsibility is two sides of the same coin. Overall, well written and a must-read.

  10. The more I am reading about Montessori techniques the more I am convinced that’s how I would like raise my kid. You have made some very valid points in favor. Your reasoning is also absolute.

  11. Kids needs both freedom and attention. Cottonwooling will not help them become independent. But there need to be rules. An occasional failure does help a child learn.

    1. Thank you, Raghav. I can very well relate to what you are saying. I was also bought up in a similar traditional south Indian family, where rules and family prestige are more important.

  12. This is must read article for every parent Suhasini. Loved the way you explain how much freedom and attention should be given to our kids and how to teach them about responsibilities. Great post.

  13. Wonderful post, we have a healthy balance between freedom and responsibilities, both kids know when to do what also they can choose what they want to do among the available choices.

  14. This blog post is like a guide for me. My son is entering in teenage and I need to take care lot of things. After reading your write up, I need to change my perception and parenting a little. Thank you for sharing wonderful parenting tips.

  15. Hi,
    I tried doing this at home. My younger daughter is 11 and has some chores but doesn’t do it. When I remind her she says she’s tired and can’t do it. For eg, she has to keep 3 glasses of water for lunch everyday. But after online school, she sits on the couch and doesn’t keep water. She says she will come late for lunch. Should I just do it instead. I feel it may not be fair for my elder daughter who does her chores well.

    1. Hi Deepa,
      I can totally understand your situation and 9-12 years is the age where the kids try to establish their boundaries and in that process, they do push the limits a lot. A similar situation happens regularly in my house, where my child currently 9 years old tries to shrink away from responsibilities. But what we did (me and my hubby) was not to complete his tasks. For example – it’s his duty to fill the water bottles and place them in the refrigerator. If he doesn’t do it, we will not do that activity and he himself will not have chilled water. Also we make it a point to tell him that we suffered because he didn’t complete his tasks in a subtle way. No complaining or scolding tones are used here. May be you can sit down for lunch once or twice without water. You know that people would get into problems. At that time, just ask her to go and fetch her water. Scolding then will not help her. When you repeat this couple of times, she will start doing this on her own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

mommyshravmusings

Welcome to my Parenting blog, which captures my parenting journey with Shrav. Also, I list down the books I read and review here.

You may also like

%d bloggers like this: