Let Children Behave Like Children

Table of Contents Where are we going wrongLet the Children Be Children and PlayWays to Let Children Behave…
two children behave like real children playing and having fun in the sandpit

Are you treating your children like grownups at an early age? You need to read this to know if you’re not letting your children behave like children.

My children are grown and have children of their own; yes, you can call me Grandma.

However, when I look back at how fast those years have gone by, I wish I had done things a little different.

This article contains a portion of wisdom that I learned along the way. My wish is that it will help you keep those priorities straight and let your children behave like children, and enjoy those early years.

Where are we going wrong

Are we destroying our children in today’s world and taking away their childhood?  How are we letting our children behave like grownups?

I want you to consider this example – you go to the beauty salon to get your hair or nails done and there is this mommy with her 3 year old getting their nails done.

It is okay for the mommy, but do you think the 3 year old kid should be getting into this? Sometimes it’s a 5 year olds birthday party and they are getting dressed up like grownups, putting on fancy clothes. The party could cost their parents $200 to $300 easily.

Shouldn’t this amount be put into the child’s college fund, or used for something worthwhile for your children?Why are we trying to treat these children like they are all grown up?

Children grow up fast enough by themselves. I heard a mother the other day ask her kindergartner if she has a boyfriend.  Give me a break, what does a 5 year old need with a boyfriend!

Are we demanding the wrong things out of our children and adding stress to their little lives by:

  • Putting them in school at an earlier age.
  • Giving them home work starting in Kindergarten.
  • Putting them in sports when they are only 3 years old.
  • Filling their world full of activities, day after day.

I realize that society has a lot to do with this. So, are we letting the world’s ideas raise our children and let the children behave like grownups? Don’t you think we need to take control of raising our own children?

“If you want to see what children can do, you must stop giving them things.” – Norman Douglas

Let the Children Be Children and Play

Have you ever seen 5 year olds having a birthday party in their back yard?  They play pin the tail on the donkey or tag.  If nothing else, they are running around chasing each other just for the heck of it.

You go outside any given day and do you hear children playing outside.  Not so much! They are told that it is too hot for them to play outside or a stranger will find them and take them away.

Yes, maybe there are some bad people running around, so you need to be outside with them or have them in your back yard playing.

Let these children behave like children, discover the beauty of nature, and use their imagination.

Ways to Let Children Behave Like Children

What is a parent supposed to do, so that those little ones have a childhood? Here are some ways how you can let children behave like children.

1. Don’t send them to school the minute they can walk, talk and potty trained.  Don’t get me wrong here they do need some schooling.  Maybe a little preschool for a couple of days a week for a few hours a day at age 3 or 4.

After all they are going to be spending the next 20 years or more in school.

2. Limit the activities you put them in.  I look out at soccer fields these days and they are full of 3 year olds and 4 year olds.  Most of them have a look on their face that says, ‘What am I doing here?’

There will be many years ahead for them to play sports, when they can understand the rules.

3. Dress them like a kid, not like teenagers.  Kids learn fast enough about fashion, so put clothes on them that can get dirty and they can play in.

Lose the shoes that have the higher heels on them, so they have something to look forward to. Don’t you remember when you were finally big enough for high heel shoes?  You were so proud, because you were finally getting big enough to be a lady.

Just let children behave their age.

4. Do they really need to have a play date?  Dating is for teenagers and adults.  Come on mom let’s be honest now, you need to get out of the house, so let’s call it what it is.  Mom’s visiting a friend and the kids can play.

5. Stop trying to keep them busy at all times.  Have you ever watched a child playing with their toys and talking to themselves like they have a friend there?

It is good if children behave like children and use their imagination. When we are always running them around to this activity or play date, do they have the time needed to use their own mind and make up their little stories as they play?

They are going to learn to be social in elementary school.

 “To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today” – Anonymous

What does it take for children to behave like children

What do the kids really need to do to be kids? Here are three aspects that should be a part of every kid’s life so that children behave like children:

  • Being able to have time to play and explore their little world.
  • Being home and learning from mom or dad how to ride that new tricycle or bicycle.
  • Playing softball or soccer in the back yard with mom and dad.

Those first 5 years are important years in a child’s life when we need to let them know the rules and boundaries.

Also, teach them right from wrong, and teach them about the love of a family besides other things. Children need their parents in those early years, not all the socializing.

Let them play their games while they are little; trust me, they do learn to socialize early enough.

I hear many parents complain about their busy and complicated lives these days.  When we let our children behave like children we are not running them all over the place and treating them to painted nails, fancy grown up clothes and sports activities they really don’t want to be at.

Don’t let society rule your child’s life and yours. Simplify your life and help your children behave like children and enjoy those young years. They will remember and thank you for it.

Children are wonderful just as they are without treating them as adults.

Over to you – Are you letting your children behave like children or do you find your life is consumed by running them from place to place, because that is what children are supposed to be doing these days?  As a parent, share what you are doing to let your children behave like a child in the comments below.


Photo Credit: gummy72

  1. Hi Harleena

    Gorgeous post you have created right here, along with an extremely important subject. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Welcome to the blog Shan!

      Sorry for having missed your comment! Glad you liked the post, though it’s written by Debbie, our wonderful guest author for the month. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  2. Hi Debbie and Harleena,

    Love this line – “Stop trying to keep them busy at all times.” Some of our kids are being robbed of just being a child and enjoying the simple joys of life that they discover on their own, without being so programmed. Some of this comes from fear of letting the children go outside and play like we all did when we were growing up. It’s a challenge, but children learn so much through simple play, that they should all have that opportunity.

    Great post!

    1. Hi Cathy,

      I like the way you word this Cathy, ‘without being so programmed’. Yes, it is very much like parents are programming their children.

      We are programming them into what society wants us to do. It is not fair to the little ones or bigger ones. I love watching them playing simply and have found as an adult we can even learn so much from them while they are playing.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic, it is always appreciated.


  3. Hi Debbie and welcome to Harleena’s blog. So nice to have you here and a wonderful topic you shared.

    Now Harleena knows me and I don’t have any children. What I will say though is I’m blessed and thankful that I am a baby boomer and grew up in the era that they let us be kids. Now perhaps there were still come families that overindulged where their kids were concerned.

    My ex-husband didn’t treat his child like a kid when we were together. He was four years old and had an IQ of 148. He was one smart little boy so my ex treated him more like an adult but trust me, he was just a little boy. It was heartbreaking to watch which is another reason I’m divorced.

    I do see the parents these days though spending way too much money on their children and not really paying a lot of attention to them like I feel they should. They are rushing them to grow up too and some of them aren’t doing that really well. Not all mind you, not all but I’ve seen my share.

    I’m sure that more of the parents can relate to this post then me but I did want to stop by and share my thoughts as well.

    Thank you both and enjoy what’s left of this week.


    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Thank you for the welcome. It is nice to be here and I thank Harleena for the oppourtunity.

      I too am very grateful to have grown up as a baby boomer. We did have a lot of fun and wonderful memories.

      My heart also goes out to your ex husbands son. When a parent is like this with a child it is like taking part of them and throwing it away.

      Parents worry about how they are going to send children to college these days, if they would look at the money they are throwing away on the technical toys, the expensive birthday parties, etc they would not have this worry or it would not be as big of a worry.

      What is really important for children is to love them, guide them and teach them values.

      Thank you for sharing, I do appreciate it.


  4. Very interesting article with useful topic.

    Well, I’m 18 years old now and my mother still behaves with me like a child and she let’s me do what I love. I think it’s important to let children enjoy their life in their own way instead of forcing them to do things which they don’t like. This is how I lived my life and I love my mom.

    Enjoyed reading this post and also enjoyed reading Mayura’s story in his comment.

    1. Hi Ehsan,

      First of all I want to thank you for sharing how your mother has let you behave like as a child.

      People go through stages in life. There is the baby stage, the toddler stage, youth stage, teen stage and on into adult. When any of these stage are denied to a person it is like taking part of their life away from them.

      Each stage helps them grow into the person they become. You are a very luck young man that your mother is doing things right. She is a wonderful mother.

      Thanks again for sharing and stopping by.

  5. Truly loved reading this. What a struggle it is to go against society these days, I’ve been feeling it the last year even more so now that both kids started school. Everyone is “busy” packing in the activities. We have a few we enjoy, but I truly love coming home after school with no plan but a snack, some homework & playtime outside – unorganized playtime!

    1. Hi Aggie,

      Good for you, liking to go home after school to have a snack, do homework and let the kids play. Sounds like you are going to raise great kids. When my girls were young that is much like our route. They were in dance classes, but it didn’t take up all their time. It was something they did because they enjoyed it. When they were in high school they started playing soccer.

      I know for myself when the last one was in high school, I was pretty much ready for the actives to stop. That is what concerns me about parents today. When these kids get to the point where they need the actives the parents are going to be very tired of carting them around. Those teen years are the years to keep them busy and out of trouble.

      Thank you for sharing and being the parent you are not the parent society thinks you should be.


  6. Hi Mayura,

    Love getting your take on this subject, Mayura. I to find it hard to believe when it comes to the way children are being raised and shuffled from place to place and daycare to another.

    It seems that here in US just about every family needs two incomes to live. I am very fortunate when it comes to my grand children. One daughter does not work, but stays home with her children, one works one day a week and can do some of her work from home. On the day she works I do watch her little one, which is nice. The other one only works 4 days a week and 2 of hers are in school all day.

    When it comes to children talking and sounding like an adult, I believe that is because parents let them be a big part of adult conversation. We have one grand daughter that is 9 that likes to sit in when the adults are talking and we tell her to go play. Which she does.

    I remember as a child playing dress up and wearing my mothers shoes.
    We called it “playing dress up.” Now you can find clothes in the stores for kids to play dress up and they fit them like there own clothes. To me it would take all the fun out of the wearing the clothes that are to big. That was the fun part.

    I to wonder what the world is coming to.

    I don’t believe these parents where raised like this. I see society doing it to our children. All the TV and advertising. My wish is that the parents are going to wake up and see that they need to raise the little ones differently rather than following society.

    Thank you for contributing so much to this post. It is wonderful to get a young person’s perspective on the situation.

    Cheer to you and wishing you a wonderful week

  7. Very informative and thought provocating article.

    My girls are young adults now yet even when they were younger there is a lot of pressure on parents to give everything all at once to your child. It is hard, as a parent to withstand the pressure and I know I made choices which I wouldn’t make now.

    As a yoga teacher I teach young children and for some of them, and their parents it is the only space where they can just Be, no competition or ego sharing. As a parent you want the best for your children and sometimes that best means saying NO and allowing your child space to grow and play at their own pace. Everyone wants their child to fit in, to be happy and be part of the crowd, and I can remember many times saying No to my girls to things/places/activities which I thought weren’t age appropriate.

    It is an ongoing issue and parents definitely need support and encouragement to step out of the rat-race and give their children the space and time they need. Well done for raising this topic.

    1. Hi Ntathu,

      I agree with you, being a parent with small children now days puts a lot of stress and pressure on a person. Parents can get so trapped into the rat-race of what activities to put children into, what clothes to dress them in, so they fit in with other children.

      It is wonderful that you can teach Yoga where there is no competition or ego sharing. My hat goes off to you for providing this service to mother with children.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  8. Hi Debbie,

    First off I thought it’s Harleena writing this one 😉 But after few lines I scrolled up to see the author’s name. Then I got it that I was wrong 😀 Nice article Debbie. Glad to see you here with a guest post and you have lovely thoughts 🙂 I know Harleena agrees with me.

    Well, I’m not a father still. But I think I have some experiences here I should contribute dear.

    In my country, it wasn’t a big problem (But now I see things changing) and I’m amazed when I hear how busy over there life is in US 🙂 Some parents don’t have enough time to care for their children. So children spend time somewhere else or with their nanny. Day care and nanny are totally new words for me 🙂 I spent all my life with parents and only a few days I can remember I have lived alone for a few hours. When I hear lives at such countries, I ask myself “Are we going to be robots in the next few decades?”. Fetch rules and instructions and we are ready to go? That’s how I feel compared to my life.

    Lately I was amazed when a small boy talked like a grown up in front of his parents. That’s why I said I see things changing. Parents laughed on what he said and add more facts to his story. I was just shocked and I have never talked like that in front of my parents even when I grew up. I felt so uncomfortable and felt like a grown up was talking to me. I thought “Should I call him a little boy?”

    I think mostly children follow what parents their do, but not what they tell them to do. Kids love to be grown up. wear mom’s shoes, try some outfits, answer phones and try to talk. But it doesn’t mean they should be taught that way from early ages. Right?

    Can you imagine a father putting cigar in between his child’s lips and take a snap to show his friends? Is it a sweet memory? The one you mentioned, mother asking about boyfriend is weird enough.

    Is it just that they think children have no idea what they do at such an age? As I know, a child can be guided easily in his/her first few years, but after that parents have not much control of them. Sometimes I feel, is that the way that parents have been taught and enjoyed their life. So they try to build it in their children too? Helping children to be ready for their teenage?

    Once Harleena told about having cheapy birthdays. But I wonder how many parents follow that. Let children have their own party and freedom. It will save cost for parents too.

    In my country, I see kids participate in talent or reality shows nowadays. It’s a craze here. They dance or singing songs without knowing the true meaning. Get votes, build competition, and pressure inside little minds, opponents and parents encourage them to win big prize so they can survive. It’s perfectly alright to show off talent, but as a person there is a doubt where he/she will stop.

    Though I’m not a parent, but when I hear such stuff I feel so worried. Is that the future – No more kids but grown ups everywhere?

    Have a GREAT week, Debbie and Harleena 🙂


  9. Hi Debbie,

    Beautiful article you’ve written here, and a very important topic.

    Yes, indeed, it’s very important to let children behave like children. I am so thankful that my mom raised me that way. Even though I don’t have any children myself I have observed some of the terrible mistakes you are mentioning here, Debbie, and I wish such parents could read your article.

    Like I said, my mother let me and my brother be kids all the way, because when she was a child herself she was sent to work way too early and she hated her childhood for this. So, she made sure she wouldn’t do the same type of mistakes.

    I agree that putting children to school too early is also a mistake. You are so right, they have plenty of time to be in school. No need to send toddlers to school, just enjoy them at home.

    Thanksf for this great post, Debbie and I will share it.

    1. Hi Sylviane,

      Thank you for the kind words and sharing your thoughts with us.

      I know what you mean when you talk about your mother. The same thing happened with my mother. She started working at the age of 15 and out on her own. She never hurried her children to grow up fast and I feel very blessed.

      I remember all the fun that I had as a child playing all the fun and silly games.

      When I was in the 8th grade finally getting my first part of high heels, I was finally growing up, but I had all those beautiful memories of being a kid.

      Thanks again for your lovely comment and sharing. Have a wonderful day, Sylviane.

  10. Hi Debbie,

    Very significant article. As a mom of a 4-year old kid, I realized that I shouldn’t force him yet into doing things in preparation for his grown-up years like sending him to school early or forcing him to learn a sport at a young age. I should let my child play all he want and and let him enjoy his kids days.

    1. Sarah,

      You are a very smart mother, letting your son enjoy his early years. Those early years are for mom’s and dad’s to bond with them, not the world.

      When we take those grown-up years away too soon, when the times comes for them to enjoy, they are going to be bored, because they have already played the sports, had the social friends, and wonder OK what is next.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It is very much appreciated.

  11. I have a 4 and almost 2 year old and I just love how wonderfully curious and playful they are, they bring out the child in me and I certainly am in no rush to see them grow up.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing.

      I know what you mean when it comes to watching a little 4 and 2 year old playing. It does bring out the kid in a person. I have a grand daughter that is 3 and I love getting down on the floor and playing with her.

      It warms my heart knowing that you are enjoying your little ones, it is like sun shine coming through the window on a cool winter day.

      Thank you again for sharing.

  12. Yes, I think it’s sad that kids just can’t have play – free play. Everything has to be so organized now. They have to go to pre-school before kindergarten, really? I didn’t even go to kindergarten, it was not mandatory and I never had play dates. And for all the activities they can do those in middle or high school – why elementary school? Everything seems to be overkill except the education itself. I never had my own kids in more than 1 activity at a time unless they decided that in high school years. Way too stressful for them and for us parents too.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I love the way you put this with the “Everything has to be organized and the overkill.” This is very true.

      The education is the most important part not the activities. Now I do believe it is important for the activites when they are in middle school and high school like you say. When they are involved in them at this time in there lives, it keeps them out of trouble and makes them feel like they belong.

      What does worry me is that when these little ones get into the higher grades the parents are going to be burnt out and less invloved and that is when the kids need it the most.

      Thank you Lisa for sharing your view on this subject. I do appreciate it.

  13. GREAT post!!

    I have struggled with almost all of the points you listed. Feeling pushed by “society” and pulled by my own inner “knowing”. My kiddo is definitely not participating in as many activities as most of the kids I know, she has her birthday parties at the park, where they run and play and have fun, she plays outside after school.

    It’s the way I grew up, and I think it helps kids grow into good people… to be kids for as long as they can.

    1. Thank you Jackie.

      I have to admit that now days it seems like it is much harder being a parent. Sounds like you have your priorities straight, Jackie. Keep up the great work and your little girl is going to thank you for letting her enjoy being the kid she is meant to be.

      I love seeing kiddo’s playing in the park or outside. I always have to smile when I hear the laughter, it brings back my own memories of playing outside as a kid.

      I think it is coming down to the parents saying, “This is enough.”

      Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and knowing what is right for your kiddo.

  14. Debbie,

    Nice to have you here! And I so love the topic. Often I see how kids are “growing up” quicker than they ought to be. Somehow the innocence is lost too quick. Maybe the way they dress or maybe the need to be “better” than everybody. I knew a 13 year old who goes to eight different classes after school – swimming, guitar, baking, stitching, sewing, language, computer, personality development. I have no idea what is going on in the parents head. When the girl turned 18, she became stressed out, didn’t want to go to college and just stopped doing anything at all. She said she was too tired.

    And that is just sad, because people become too caught in the rat race and they feel they need their children to live every aspect of what exists.

    A very nice post.

    1. Thank you Hajra for the welcome.

      I totally agree with you that kids are losing their innocence too quickly. I believe it has a lot to do with society. Society has made the rules and the parents are following.

      I would not have like to be the 13 year olds parents shoes in all the activities she was involved in. You would never get to spend time at home. It does got to show what happens when kids are involved in too many things. It stresses them out along with burning them out. Thank you for sharing this story. Hopefully it will show parents what can happen to the child when they get older and make their own decisions.

      As for the dressing of children now days, I was trying to do some Christmas shopping the other day for the grand kids and found some of the clothes out there for the little ones were just unreal.

      My wish is that parents see this situation for what it is and stop doing what is socially correct now days and let the little ones have some fun while they are little.

      Thanks again for the kind words and sharing your thoughts.

    2. Absolutely Hajra!

      Kids nowadays are maturing much ahead of their age and it amazes me how parents seeing things happen don’t take action. Yes, they are conscious about the way they look, and just as Debbie mentioned, the society does have a major role to play in all of this, and kids see other kids do things which they want to replicate, and that’s how the cycle carries on.

      Gosh…eight different classes! And here my elder one just goes for one coaching class and feels stressed out! I guess a lot depends on the child and parent in such cases. If the child is really interested in taking up these classes from their free will, they will do well in them. However, if it’s the parents who are pushing them to excel in all spheres because of other reasons, then it’s being unfair on the child, and will certainly stress and burnt them out sooner or later. Similar is the case with child artists we see on the television or serial shows, which makes me wonder as to how their parents allow them to go through such hardships and perfection to do what they do. Yes, some kids are talented and interested in participating , but everything done within limits and enjoyed along the way is what works best I feel.

      I agree with Debbie that parents need to let children behave like children and not really do as society demands or just to get into the rat race as you mentioned, because the kids are the ones who lose out in all of this.

      Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the post. 🙂

  15. Welcome to the blog Debbie!

    It sure is a pleasure to have you over as a guest author on the blog. We are all privileged to have you over to share your pearls of wisdom about parenting with all of us. 🙂

    Yes indeed, we need to let children behave like children because that is what how we can really let them fully develop and bloom into beautiful adults. I’ve also often seen parents spoil their kid’s or handle them in such a way that the children mature much earlier than their age, which isn’t right. I guess it matters a great deal that we let our kid’s grow at their own pace and enjoy their age as and when it comes.

    Thanks once again for being here, and am sure everyone is going to love your presence as much as I do. 🙂

    1. Thank you Harleena. It is an honor to be a guest author on your wonderful informative blog.

      Parents spoiling their children is a very big problem these days. As I watch parents in the stores it amazes me the things they buy for their children through out the year. I always wonder what they buy them for those special days like birthdays or Christmas.

      As I was talking to my grand daughter yesterday (she is 7) she asked me if I ever had any trouble with kids in school giving me a bad time. She said that this little guy was always saying bad things to her and trying to make her feel bad. I let her know that he most likely is learning some of this behavior from home and that he is looking for attention. I told her maybe if she told him, “I’m sorry you feel that way” and than walk away.

      You are right when we need to let them be children, they do bloom in their own time. LOVE is what children need the most and a parent or parents to guide them in the right direction.

      Thank you again for letting me be a part of your blog today.

      1. Pleasure is all mine Debbie!

        It sure is a problem and somewhere or the other parents are to be blamed for spoiling their kids to such an extent. I’ve also seen how some parents just go out of their way to give in to their children’s demands without really realizing what it all is leading to. It makes me go back in my time when my parents were so careful about what they gifted or gave us, which is something I’ve always done with my kids too. Yes, I am a little more liberal with times changing, but not like some parents who just give them all that they want.

        That was wonderful advice given by you to your grand daughter and it must have given her a solution to deal with the situation too. Oftentimes such problems start from home, though parents aren’t ready to accept the fact, and they could be due to so many reason that a child undergoes or sees at home.

        Yes indeed, love is all that kid’s really need. But yes, I won’t deny the fact that being parents we want to do the best or give them the best too, but everything within limits is what it really should be, which again is to make them better adults when they grow up – isn’t it?

        Thanks for being here and sharing your years of wisdom with all of us. 🙂

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