Let children be children

By: Blessing Adedimeji Adeyanju.

Updated on July 24, 2020.

Play is essential for a child’s normal functioning and development. It is normal to see children play in almost every setting. Adults may respect some settings for some functions, e.g the religious setting for prayers, cafeterias for eating, and bedrooms for sleeping, but children do not view any of these settings the way adults view them. The primary function of what children find in any setting is for playing. Children are wired to play. A famous cognitive psychologist, Jean Piaget, has described children as egocentric. As much as they are egocentric, it is good to let children be children anywhere they find themselves. This means children should be allowed to play where ever they are. It helps them understand their environments.

This article seeks to let parents understand why children should be left to act like children, we are not recommending any best way of parenting. We hold a similar view as Grohol (2018), who stated that “there is no “right way” to parent. The right way is to find the way that works for you and your partner while respecting the needs of your child.”

Parents, teachers, and guardians often give reasons why their children should have started some educational activities at a very early stage. Rushing children into academic activities doesn’t mean children are getting the best they ought to get. They could be missing out on a lot of things that they ought to have gained if they were allowed to act freely and discover things by themselves. The best thing you can do for children is to let them be children. Despite being in the 21st century, it’s best we allow children to be children. It will help their cognitive development.
It is normal for parents to expect certain things from their children. But as much as their expectations can lead them to support their children, it could be dangerous in cases where they have to pressure their children because of what they expect of them. High expectations may cause parents to alter children from growing as children.

Depriving children of their needs or demanding more than what is appropriate for their age may affect a child’s development. “Children of all ages deserve to be treated as children and with respect. True respect requires true understanding of children and their needs at different ages.”(Isaacs, 2017). If children’s needs are not met, they may express deep dissatisfaction. Also, children may begin to feel anxious if they are always being required to do tasks that are inappropriate for their age. And this anxious feeling is dangerous to their mental health.

Sometimes, parents may be irritated by the childish behaviours of their children. Children may do things which are meaningless to adults. All that they do is for their pleasure, new discoveries of things, and understanding of the world that they find themselves. Parents, guardians, and teachers must endure and support them during the early stage of their development. parents must see children as children in order to live comfortably with them. Furthermore, seeing children as children will help adults love, care, and embrace them better.

Rationales for parents’ actions which counter “letting children be children.”

1. How they want others to perceive them: Sometimes, parents want others to perceive them as good parents. Parents don’t want other parents to perceive them as being weak and as someone who hasn’t trained their children well. This perception of parents may cause them to pay less attention to their children’s growth. Causing parents to impose adult-like instructions on children.

Source: Unsplash. Photo credit: Benjamin Manley

2. Safety: It is good for parents to care for their children. But if parents overly care to the extent were they didn’t give children the opportunity to independently learn somethings, it could turn out negative on children’s development. Children may grow into adults and still be dependent on their parents because they haven’t learnt how to be independent while they were children.They may not be able to learn life’s skills if they are overly protected. Parents must let go of their fears and allow their children to make new discoveries through play.

Here are the benefits of letting children be children

1. Children learn problem solving skills: Children get to understand more about life and would be able to solve basic life problem skills if they are allowed to act independently as a child. But parents can deprive their children of the opportunity to learn invaluable problem-solving skills if they don’t allow them to grow as children. Children may learn an invaluable skill through trail-and-error and through social interactions with peers when they are given Independence to have their own unique experiences.

2. Personal growth and learning: Through play, children can have a deep understanding of how things function. And the understanding that they have would make them gain mastery over their environment.

Source: Unsplash. photo credit: Adrià Crehuet Cano

3. Communication skills (as they play with other children and express themselves): Children communication skill improves as they interact with peers. They learn how to express themselves and understand people’s emotions.

4. Cognitive skills: When children are allowed to function as children, they will have an improved cognitive skill, such as being able to sustain attention, improved speed of information processing, and pattern recognition.

Isaacs, D. (2017). Let children be children. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 53, 99–1000.

Grohol, J. M. (2018). Let Your Children be Children. Retrieved from:

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