Introducing your child to public spaces

Your little angel might not be so angelic outside the home

In Summary

• Children get overwhelmed easily in new and different environments

Children play at a rehabilitated playground in Mustard Court, Dandora estate
Children play at a rehabilitated playground in Mustard Court, Dandora estate

My son has become more confident in his exploration, which in toddler terms is a stones throw away from mischief.

He climbs couches, stools, tries to grab onto the window bars… he has even started hoisting himself up on the family swing. Which, as you can imagine, requires a lot of balance and core strength. All these activities are dangerous. They require constant supervision and alertness from my side.

Although we have enough space around the house and grounds for him to explore, I thought it would be wise to introduce him to the play-themed zones for children that you find in malls. I thought he would be comfortable in a confined space that was much safer and more amusing to children.

I was ecstatic to take him to one this past week and leave him there with his nanny while I ran my countless month-end errands. In my mind, I could see him diving gleefully in the ball pit and climbing around as he does at home! Let me tell you, Maina…

We had not even stepped through the swiping gate to enter the play zone before my kid started bawling! There was absolutely no one in the play area other than the attendants, and there was nothing scary, yet the kid would not budge from my waist!

I decided to take him through to warm him up. The ‘warm up’ lasted the duration of our stay there. He would not have me out of his sight and nothing in the playroom amused him enough to grab his attention.

It took at least an hour for him to calm down and somewhat play with the balls. I could tell he was overwhelmed by the newness of everything around him. It was only then that I realised that our kids act completely different in public spaces than they do at home!

My son hardly ever cries at home, he is super energetic and ready to try out something new. My foolish new-mum brain assumed his personality would transfer to a new place without considering the variables.

I understand that children get overwhelmed easily in new and different environments and that not all children react the same. Nevertheless, nothing really prepares you for the tantrum a child throws your way when you least expect it.

What we can imagine to be a fun and adventurous time for them might actually be their worst nightmare, and you have to reel yourself in from your expectations and deal with the situation at hand.

For instance, my son loves water, he cannot see a puddle, a basin, a spill without putting his hand in it! We have wanted to take him to swim classes since he was five months old but we have not found the right opportunity yet.

Now that he is older and has started developing fear as an emotion, I am anxious of his reaction to being in a large water body with a stranger teaching him how to swim.

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