08/07/2016 8:28 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

Kids Aren't Sheep, So Let's Just Stop With The Labelling And Comparing

Sad student with school bag.
MarkPiovesan via Getty Images
Sad student with school bag.

I am the father of a very active four-year-old and, as the parent of any toddler can vouch, they are quite a handful. Perhaps a couple of handfuls, maybe more. In fact, I've often found myself wishing for a couple of extra limbs, like one of the many Hindu gods.

My son has his moments of tantrums and stubbornness. He also has those moments where he will completely ignore you and pretend not to hear anything you say. There are also times when he is reluctant do certain things but wants to do other things that he likes repeatedly. He plays with some toys, but not with others. He likes to sing and dance, but not so much to write or paint. He even talks to his animals and toys; sometimes even to the characters in the cartoons. He can memorize rhymes and song lyrics even if he hears them just once, but yet he has trouble telling apart an apricot from a peach. In short, he does some things well, some really well, and some others... well, he does them differently.

But when people, from strangers to neighbours, start to label young kids with terms like "hyperactive" or "slow" or as having "attention deficit disorder" it makes my blood boil. These traits may or may not apply, but why are people so quick to label kids, especially those who are not their own? Why do these people feel the insatiable desire to find fault with kids and worst of all, compare? Why can't we just realize that these are little kids -- each of them is unique and different. They are not a herd of sheep. They all develop differently and at distinct times; their backgrounds are diverse, their characteristics even more so. Yes, kids these days, spurred on by technology and the rest, they develop a lot faster than you and I probably did at the same age. But even then, you'll find that they're all similarly dissimilar -- from the way they speak to what they eat.

So what if they have trouble staying within the lines when they colour? Or they read better than they write? Or they sing better than they read?

Maybe if we look closely enough, we'll see that they have talents that are much more than a neat handwriting, doing their homework properly or memorizing a bunch of things and reciting them back.

So, stop those comparisons. Stop judging them on the ability to hold a pencil properly or draw a straight line without help. So what if they have trouble staying within the lines when they colour? Or they read better than they write? Or they sing better than they read? Or they use their left hand to write and not the right?

I may get crucified for this, but I'm increasingly starting to feel that one of the root causes for these comparisons, especially at schools, are some parents. It is absolutely natural for parents to want the best for their kids and make sure to give them everything they can afford. What's not so natural are unrealistic expectations, and endeavours to train a three-year-old to say 15 different words for each letter of the alphabet or to write words/sentences even before they join preschool. So please do everyone a favour and take it easy, please.

We're only human. And we're not in a race. And neither are our kids.

Don't squash their dreams and creativity. Not just yet.

Let them be kids a little longer.

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