I will start by giving a few examples this confusing topic could be best explained with only real life scenarios.
One day I saw my five-year-old daughter go to the bathroom quietly with a bubble maker. She drank out of the bottle and tasted it when I walked into the bathroom. She suddenly stopped what she was doing and waited for my reaction. I took the bottle from her, filled some more water, took the soapy water in my mouth and directly aimed for the commode. My daughter laughed uncontrollably. Next thing we know we were taking turns playing this new game. Our normal reaction would be to stop the child from drinking soap water. But why? Really is it necessary?
My son enjoys spending time with me in the kitchen. One day while I was making veggie pasta, he wanted to help me and hence got a stool and came and stood next to me. I chopped all the vegetables, put the water in the saucepan, and paused. He took the saucepan, put the stove on, and placed it on the stove. He did not keep it properly, so the saucepan landed on the floor with a loud noise and water splashed all over. I could have got angry and asked him to go away and not trouble me, but I just filled up the saucepan with water again, left it on the counter and paused again. He gave me an apprehensive look, and then carefully and a bit hesitatingly kept it on the stove and voila, it balanced perfectly. NextI opened the noodles packet and Ahanimmediately pulled it out of my hand to put it in the water.
I then took out another pan for sautéing the veggies. Ahan wanted to keep that one himself on the stove. Once he placed it on the stove I started pouring oil on the pan. He pulled my hand, took the oil, and poured himself. Needless to say, about half a liter of oil was in the pan. I poured out the extra oil into a bowl. I did not utter a word. Then I started putting the chopped veggies one by one into the pan to saute, but Ahan wanted to put them all together himself, so I let him do whatever he wants. While he was putting the veggies into the pan, I did not ask him to be careful or tell him how to put it, I let him do as he pleased. Some oil spluttered on his hand and he shouted, I told him it is okay and put some cold water. He was hesitant for a few minutes to come near the pan but when he saw me sautéing, he could not resist. He came near the stove and started sautéing. He came back to cooking even though he got a little hurt because of his trust in me. He saw that I was doing it and it was alright to do it. Then we sieved the noodles, added it to the veggies. I asked him to add salt. He added how much ever he wanted. I didn’t tell him how much to add because I wanted him to realize the cause and effect of putting more or less salt without verbally telling him. Our normal reaction would be to shoo the child away. Tell them exactly what to do. But why? What will happen if they put any ingredient they want, however they want? We end up with a bad dish, that’s all, isn’t it? Is it that bad?
My daughter and I were going for a walk in the park when she noticed that the road we were walking on was a slant. She immediately said ‘slide’ and started rolling on it. Yes, her clothes got dirty, her hair got dirty. Do I need to stop her? Why? Should I care what people will say? Should I care that her clothes will get dirty?
My son really likes all rotating things, and one day he saw that my household help was cleaning the fan. So after she left, he got the ladder and tried to balance it on the bed in order to reach the fan. Naturally, because of the soft bed surface, the ladder was wobbly and when my son started climbing on it, it was unbalanced and the ladder started shaking. He was hesitating to climb, but he really wanted to climb. I did not utter a single word and just held the ladder. He climbed up, touched the fan, and was thrilled. Next thing I know he goes gets some markers and writes on the fan. Then he goes gets some stickers and sticks on the fan. After a while, I see that he is climbing the ladder and reaching the fan by himself, balancing nicely. Should I have stopped him?
My daughter was standing up on our sixth-floor balcony and my son was cycling downstairs. My daughter was excited that she could see her brother from so high and yelled his name; he looked up and then continued his cycling. Just then, a drop of water fell on her head from somewhere. She got an idea, started spitting from our balcony, and watched it fall down. She did that many times. Should I have stopped her?
My son started writing on the walls and floor with sketch pens and crayons. Should I have stopped him?
My daughter put makeup and later give the bath to an expensive stuffed doll we bought for her. Should I have stopped her?
My son wanted to break the egg when I was cooking the omelette. Should I have stopped him?
My daughter wanted to play in the flour for a long time before making minorities herself, starting from the scratch where she over poured the water and made a mess in the kitchen with water and flour everywhere, should I have stopped her?
My daughter licks the excretion coming out of her nose, should I have stopped her?
My son loves to put his hand inside my mouth and nose and check the insides. Should I have stopped him?
My daughter spills water on the floor with different types of water squirters and totally loves it, should I have stopped her?
We can give so many opportunities to our child right in our own backyard. Children are natural explorers and they will find ways to explore if we do not stop them.
We do not need to take our children to the park every day to develop gross motor skills, they can learn themselves by climbing everywhere inside the house if we allow them to.
We do not need to teach kids fine motor skills if we allow them to play with different textures in different ways at home.
We do not need to give them a sensory diet if we allow them to hear smell feel as they want whenever they want.
We do not need to teach them body parts if we allow them to explore their body themselves.
We do not need to teach them sequencing if we engage them in activities around the house and allowing them to try out things without giving our inputs while cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, grocery shopping etc.
We do not need to teach them cause and effect, if we allow them to experiment, break, throw, pour, (add more verbs)
Do you think our children will explore like this forever? They will behave in this manner for a year, two, or maybe three; is that very much inconvenient for us in the 70 years that we will be alive? This is what lays the foundation for their 70 years of life, to be truly independent, emotionally, physically and physiologically.
We parents have this tremendously valuable gift of opportunities that we can easily provide to our children in their very natural setting every single minute of the day by just being a little mindful, then why not?