Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Children at play and its importance

Today, after a hectic day at school, I went out on to the terrace in evening and watched my landlord’s children and some other children playing. Looking at them reminded me of my own childhood and the daughters I had left behind in Gurgaon before coming to Jagadhri on a new assignment. Looking at the children transported me to a time when I too was the ringleader of my group of Ethiopian children. The games however were different. The children I saw from the terrace were playing cricket while I used to play football. I played attack or offensive while my younger brother was an excellent goal-keeper.

The obvious leader of the group of children that I could see from the terrace was the eight or nine year old son of the landlord while his elder sister, a twelve years old girl was his opponent. This strapping boy, the obvious ring-leader of the group was the bowler, while his sister was adept in handling the bat! He bowled in various styles, he explained to his cohorts that he could bowl fast pace, medium pace, and spin. He had as his side-kick a pudgy stocky energetic boy who was a bundle of raw energy.

Observing them from the terrace I could see what they could become in the future. There were future policy makers, future board members, and professionals before me! It is amazing how we can see emerging character traits and character patterns in children at play! It is like watching a flower bloom with immense possibilities for the future! What a wonderful experience it is to watch children at play!

Various child psychologists and educationists have stressed the importance of play in the psychological, emotional and physical development of the child. Role play is a most important activity for a child because it trains him for future challenges in life! Child psychologists, educationists, and parents can make important evaluations about the future strengths and weaknesses of children just by observing them at play! Emotional and psychological problems begin to manifest themselves at an early stage during childhood, and they become evident when you watch children at play! Adjustment problems, problems related to poor self esteem in children can be observed early during childhood. Parents who are the most important teachers and guides can take certain preventive steps to curb destructive tendencies in children. Children who are overbearing, those with personality disorders leading to aggression, excess dominance leading to future adjustment problems can all be effectively  handled by parents and teachers. Counselling, change of environment, setting up of different goals, channelling of energy, can all help train  a child to adapt better to the environment. Similarly, children who display excess reticence, or shyness or introvert behaviour can be offered  a judicious selection of friends,offering them games where they can excel, talking to them, identifying their strengths and weaknesses and working on them will no doubt help them immensely! Thus it is clear that manipulating the environment adjusting goals in life can help the child overcome his shyness or even aggressiveness. When you expose a domineering boy to an environment where his friends are better than him, then you would be getting a message across to him that there are others in this world who are better than him! Thus it is clear that emerging leadership traits can be viewed in children, and disturbing trends of bullying should be addressed early in childhood before they take up disturbing proportions.

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