Kids are like fish. No, not because they are pretty and cute (although they are pretty and cute) but because their ability to grow depends on their environment, much like fish.
Did you know that fish will grow to the size that will be supported by their surroundings?
If you put a fish in a small bowl, it will grow to fit the size of the bowl. If you take the same fish into a small pond, it will grow bigger. If you move it to a lake, the same fish can grow to be big, really big.
Kids also have this fishy characteristic. For them, life is a fish bowl and they depend on the grown ups in their life to find a good size bowl to call home. They also depend on the grown ups in their life to "clean the water" and supply them with "food".
Kids need some things to live safely and happily in their fish bowl.
For kids, love, caring, motivation and encouragement are the basic emotional food and they need plenty of it. The younger the kids are, he more they need this food. Give it to them!
In any bowl, fish need other fish for company. Kids are the same. They need to be with others like them. Help your kids socialise with other kids, teach them to get along with others, encourage sharing and caring so any size bowl can be a happy place for many fish.
For kids to be happy, they need to have boundaries. In the fish bowl, the fish cannot swim past the glass. Tiny fish prefer small, familiar, friendly bowls because they feel safer in them. No matter how many times they bang their heads against the glass, it still makes them feel safe, because it keeps the water around them and potential threats away from them.
Kids need to know they are safe in their fish bowl. A bowl with no boundaries is a bowl with holes. You never know when you will find yourself out of the water.
Whether you choose to raise your kids in a small fish bowl (that is, have strict rules) or a large one, make sure it is safe and without holes (that is, be consistent and enforce your rules).
Many parents are afraid that limits and boundaries make their parenting strict and cruel and doubt their right to set those limits. When in fact without boundaries kids get confused and feel exposed and in constant danger. Some parents prefer smaller bowls, some prefer bigger ones, but both sizes are better than a bowl with holes or no bowl at all.
So practice the art of creating a safe place for your kids and increase the size of their "fish bowl" gradually, to allow your children to grow more. Remember: as kids grow, parents grow too.