“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today” – Stacia Tauscher.
Freedom of expression is defined as the ‘right to express one’s ideas and opinions freely through speech, writing and other forms of communication but without deliberately causing harm to others’ character and/or reputation by false or misleading statement.’
Children have rights, authorities, power, and liberties like adults
They have fundamental right like: – freedom of speech, expression, movement, thought, consciousness, communication choices, religion and the right to private life.
They have the right to put across their opinions, share their ideas, views and give suggestions which can be different from their parents.
They have a right to be informed, know what is happening around the world, access information which is useful for them. They can share their own opinions on any topic or subject.
Stuart Mill, a renowned British philosopher stated that freedom of speech (also called as freedom of expression) is vital because the society that people live in has a right to hear people’s ideas.
It’s not just important because everyone should have a right to express him or herself (which I believe also includes children). Even various National and International Laws support freedom of expression.
According to CRIN’s (Child Rights International Network) Article 13, “The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice”.
- The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
- For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or
- For the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals.
The first part of the Article 13 upholds children’s right to ‘seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds’, in a range of formats and across borders.
The second part limits restrictions that can be placed on this right. It is by expressing their feelings and opinions that children are able to describe the ways in which their rights are respected or infringed and learn to stand up for the rights of others.
In addition to this, Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights elaborated for children through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, mandates each child’s right to participate in all matters affecting them. It will also be helpful to read and understand more about children’s online privacy and freedom of expression.
The thumb rule is authorities comes with equal responsibilities
Freedom of speech for children is important but it’s crucial to teach our children that when they enjoy these rights they are obligated to shoulder the responsibility of other’s rights to disagree with them.
Even if you disagree, they must listen and respect other’s views as well.
Freedom of speech also involves having knowledge of when not to participate. For e.g.: – If a hate group is spreading rumors on whatsapp or facebook we have right to block the group or the person and it’s our duty not to spread such rumors.
Secondly, by giving them freedom of expression, don’t turn into laissez-faire parent who gives a free-hand to your child. I only mean allowing them to convey themselves, learn what is fair and unfair for them without being stopped or punished.
Parents should decide boundaries for their child
Freedom of speech is just like confidence. The more they use it, the stronger it gets.
To survive in the world of competitive positioning, to overtake the competition and gain advantage give your child the sharpest tool – liberty of assertion.
Allow your child to freely articulate what they please (even if you think they are wrong) and teach them to hear what others have stated (even if they think others or wrong). As said by George Washington that if freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
Allowing children the freedom of self-expression
“Children find everything in nothing, men find nothing in everything” – Giacomo Leopardi.
During free time when I ask my five year old daughter to draw and colour in her scrapbook, she looks at me like I had asked her to share her favourite ice-cream or to clean the entire house.
When I force her she would end up saying, “Mom, it’s boring”. I am sure many of you will relate to it. Several parents presuppose that creativity is an inborn talent which either the child has or they don’t!
Conversely, research (yes, I always emphasis more on explorations conducted by various studies since it is proven) reveals that child’s imaginations help them cope better with pain.
Let children express themselves
Their creativity also helps them to be more confident, boost their social skills and helps them to learn better. Creativity is explained as one’s ability to create new concepts or ideas, resulting in original solutions. I am sure we all will agree with Einstein that imagination is more important than knowledge.
Webster dictionary defines imagination as, “the ability to form a picture in your mind of something that you have not seen or experienced; the ability to think of new things”.
Each and every child is ingenious in their own world
Understanding children’s right to freedom is conducive to a holistic development of the children.
It’s our duty as a parent to enlarge our child’s mind’s eye and take pleasure in their judgment and trials.
- Designate a space in your house where they can craft. By space I don’t mean constructing an indoor play area or creative room for them. Even a small portion or a tiny corner is OK!
- Provide them all the required resources/ materials they need for creative work. Just make arrangements for basic materials like pen/pencil where they can play various paper games or cards, build Cassel towers, blocks, match sticks and forts.
- Provide them some age-appropriate decoration material, spoons, toy jewelers, a sock, balls, ribbons and ask them to plan a skit. You can help them if they are small but don’t help too much.
- Even if they don’t do as per your expectations don’t scold them or blame them for wasting appears or other materials. Give them opportunity to express themselves better.
- Local museums, exhibitions, cultural festivals and free public events are great ways to develop arty escalation and ingenuity.
- Repetitively, I would suggest you to reduce screen time.