Freedom is a sacred and inalienable right that all human beings possess. As per our Constitution, Freedom is the power to act according to our will, while respecting the law and the rights of others.
Our little children also have rights and liberties. But children are more fragile and vulnerable than adults; hence their liberties are further curtailed in order to ensure their security and wellbeing.
For a young impressionable mind, granting them freedom of all sorts is not the right way to teach them liberty but making sure that they understand well the consequences of wrong actions.
They are given the freedom to live their childhood up to the fullest yet let not the innocence be taken away with undue restrictions. When they are given the freedom to do something, they should be responsible enough not to misuse or take advantage of it. Hence the role of Parents and Teachers are important to impart the true meaning of freedom to our children.
What exactly does “FREEDOM” mean to our children?
- Freedom to have opinions: Children have the right to have an opinion different from their parents and it needs to be considered. When their opinions are valued and not seen as “silly things”, they are more likely to share thoughts filling their minds. As parents, we have to duly listen to them, validate their ideas, and find ways to imply them.
- Freedom to express their opinions: Every child has the right to express freely their view on all the questions which concern his/her life. All they need to hear is ‘I hear you, your ideas are welcome’. As parents, we should not try to force or influence not them with our opinions just because we are adults.
- Freedom to receive the right information: It’s very important to share age-appropriate but correct information to our children and not sugar coat things just because they are young. For example, the current pandemic situation should be explained to them in such a way that they are neither too scared nor casual about it. It is the right of the children to know what happens and to access information that interests them. Then children can comprehend current problems, inquire and build up their own opinion on topical subjects.
- Freedom to be trusted: Trust is an integral part of any relationship. It represents your belief in someone’s good sense, ability or honesty. All our children need is one person who trusts and believes in them. The only way to connect with our children is by listening to them and trusting them even if we know that not all their demands/decisions are right. But if we still trust them, they will never lie to us.
- Freedom to make decisions: Yes we know that young children may or may not make the right decision always, but then if we don’t develop this decision making skill from an early age, how do we prepare a successful leader for the future? Decision making skill is the road to self-discovery and self-confidence. As the famous saying goes “Wisdom comes from experience, and experience comes from making bad decisions.”
- Freedom from prejudices & stereotypes: It’s 2020, and high time we free our children from societal conditioning and age-old biases. Pink is no more for girls only, and football can be played by anyone. All children are exceptional in their own ways and there is no standard of being normal. Our children need to think and perform beyond these stereotypes because humanity is the only religion one needs to practice.
- Freedom to pursue our dreams: When Malala Yosafzai decided to write about women empowerment at the age of 11, she was given the freedom to choose her path of life and thus she became the youngest person to have won the Nobel Peace Prize. So it’s time we become the wind under our children’s wing and help them sore heights.
- Freedom from judgments: “You are five years old and still can’t write alphabets.” This one line is enough to shatter a dream or shake someone’s confidence. Children don’t need our judgemental stare or sarcastic comment. Not all are strong enough to overcome a “phrase” that may sound “harmless remarks” to us, but some of these jibes get imprinted in their mind for years.
- Freedom to make mistakes: Let our children know that “it’s okay to make mistakes”. Adults too make mistakes and then learn from them. Each child learns at its own space, some take time to grasp things, some delays in catching up with a lesson. It should not be looked at as a benchmark to label a child.
- Freedom to “Let them be”: This year, the pandemic has taught us many things as parents, and one of the most critical lessons is “for the better mental wellbeing of our children, just let them be.” Children are at their creative best when they are left on their own. Even an open field can be a canvas for their imagination. While routine and structure is a crucial part of their growth, unstructured free time is a crucial part of their mental and emotional growth.
- Freedom from rote and outdated learning: Our children no more need memorization of information based on repetition. It’s repetitive, doesn’t allow a deeper understanding of the subject, lacks connection between learner and learning leaders, and doesn’t encourage social skills.
Instead, the focus should be on Problem-based learning, Experiential; learning, Inquiry-based learning, and Project-based learning. These learning approaches will create Future-ready learners who are critical thinkers, decision-makers, people managers, problem solvers, creative, negotiators and leaders who work in collaborations.
As our former President, Mr. APJ Abdul Kalam, rightly said, “The ignited minds of the youth are the most powerful resource on the Earth. I am convinced that the power of the youth if properly directed, will bring about transformed humanity by meeting its challenges and bring peace and prosperity.”