Do children need to be ‘productive’ all the time?



“Whenever I watch Japanese Anime which I love, my mom says, I am wasting my time. She says, I should watch National Geographic and I could learn something. It irritates me. Can’t enjoy something I like?” “My dad came into my room the other day and asked what I was reading, I said some romantic novel,” said the teenage girl, “And my dad was I should read something useful and not waste my time in such novels”

Being productive twenty four hours is a mantra many parents have adopted. Seeing cartoons, watching anime films, reading fiction, chatting with friends, just spending time in a park are all considered as unproductive. “It leads you nowhere and is a waste of time” is how some parents brand such activities. Children get criticised mocked for indulging in such activities. If a child is just idling, it gets on the nerve of parents. Why is this so? Should children be productive all the waking hours? Cannot they have idle time? Can they not do activities which is fun but not ‘productive’ according to parents?

Children do have a hectic life with school, assignments, tests, exams, peer pressure etc. They also need time which is ‘Chilled out” time. Where they can take up an activity that does not have any pressure in it. Activities that are not competitive. Children should be allowed this time and indulgence. It could also be what their peers indulge in and they want that sense of belonging. They don’t want to be left out when everyone in their group is discussing an episode of the anime or arguing about a romantic novel. Perhaps to consider these as unproductive itself is wrong. These activities are ‘Play’ for the children. Play is never considered unproductive. As long as the play activities are not intruding into their other ‘productive’ activities can we allow children that space to grow?

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