Hi my dear parents and ever beloved kids, greetings from the K-WAY team of our caring Kauvery Hospitals and congratulations on your promotion of stepping into a new academic year. We wish both you and your kids to be happy, healthy and peaceful to achieve a successful performance this year too.
I am happy to share a few useful tips for happier parenting, as this is not another advice mongering article. You are all already nice parents taking care of your child’s needs and now we are going to discuss some novel as well as scientific methods to deal with some problematic issues many parents found difficult to handle in our consultations. I am giving an overall view of these suggestions applicable to you. Enjoy reading, learning and also, some unlearning/undoing measures which will help you in the long run.
Before getting into the actual ABCDs, I would like to share two important concepts with which you can understand your children in a better and more positive way:
GENERATION GAP is the difference in the attitudes, values and lifestyles of two different age groups living at the same time in a society. We can observe this gap not only between parents and their children but also between two siblings who have significant age difference between them [say more than 5 years]. In the older generation of ours, there were joint family settings or at least more than two siblings in a family, enabling children to interact and resolve most of their emotional issues and academic difficulties among themselves. But nowadays, we have mostly one child or uncommonly two or more children in a family that too with significant age gap. Also, most of the mothers are working now which makes understanding and spending quality time with children all the more difficult. With the current one-child norm, most of the focus of attention and unfulfilled desires of the parents are thrust upon these poor children, literally pressurising them and leading to many psychological outbreaks.
MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES is a novel and realistic concept proposed by the Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner in his 1983 research book “Frames of Mind”. He observed ‘intelligence’ as traditionally believed is not only our intellectual potential or cognitive ability to have an IQ in the normal range between 90-110 [measured by a few validated or standardized tests] but a range of other significant abilities/intelligences which can enable any talented child to achieve in a unique way. They are:
Visual-spatial (picture smart)
Linguistic-verbal (word smart)
Logical-mathematical (number/reasoning smart)
Body-kinaesthetic (body/sports smart)
Musical (music/rhythm smart)
Interpersonal (people smart)
Naturalistic (nature smart)
All our children have these intelligences in varying proportions and intensities. Our duty is to find and nurture it in a conducive manner and offering a supportive environment for their success in a particular field. We have many living examples like Sachin Tendulkar (body/sport smart), Ilayaraja, A. R. Rahman (music smart), etc.
So, our role as parents is to find out, nurture and facilitate their talents for a happy and successful life. With these in mind, let us get into the ABCDs.
ABCDs of Happy Parenting:
A - Authoritative Parent – Accept - Appreciate – Admire Your Child:
There are four types of parenting styles namely:
[always controlling, demanding, threatening and punishing] style parents always believe that child should be like a slave and follow only “do what I say” kind of attitude, never understanding and allowing the child to express his/her mind freely. They are usually ‘more demanding and less responsive’ and in turn produce a timid, passive child who lacks self-confidence and suffers throughout life.
[caring with balance in demanding and aptly responding to child’s needs] are caring and compassionate, maintain structure and consistency in daily life and set realistic goals and limits. This is the ideal parenting style to follow for an independent and confident happy child.
[more responsive/pampering but less demanding] are loving, caring and indulging types but not setting limits for anything like getting everything the child wants, not setting disciplinary limits and goals for the child making him/her impulsive, spoilt and unhappy with themselves.
[never demanding never responsive] styles are very detached, aloof themselves, hardly monitor child behavior or interact with child; leads to an unorganized, less compliant child who suffers from poor achievements and interpersonal relationships.
Having known about these parenting styles, you can assess your present one and change to a better “authoritative style” of parenting.
Always accept your child as such, appreciate all good things, admire his/her talents and achievements and nurture them to be successful and happy children and adults.
B – Be Happy Yourself – Be Role Model:
A 9-year-old girl child was brought by her mother and grandfather with complaints of the child being aggressive when disciplined, using abusive filthy language, disobeying mostly at home, using gadgets more, but being very smart at school. On getting detailed history and clinical evaluation, we have noted that child was using abusive language modelling her father; the distressed parents were on the verge of divorce proceedings, the mother was indifferent to the child and was mostly spending her time with the mobile. The child was not getting appreciated for her singing and dancing talents at home; but she was well-admired at school by her class teacher for her academic and artistic talents. Actually, there was no problem with the child here. Only her environment at home was toxic. After a few sessions of family therapy and parental counselling, the child became absolutely alright.
So, as parents we have to be happy and peaceful within ourselves, be role models in our attitudes and behavior in their presence [not using abusive language and not being glued to the mobile when the child needed attention in this case] and it is better not to give advice lectures, if we are not following them. Children are usually the mirrors of their families, reflecting what they are exposed to frequently.
C – Communicate – Compare Not - Compliment – Cultivate:
Effective communication is one of the life skills any individual should have, be it in the office or at home.
More so when we deal with children especially adolescents; we need to communicate in a very gentle and honest way; never lie to them.
Say sorry when you are not able to fulfil something which you promised, or when you do something wrong, set an example of gracefully accepting a fault.
Know their areas of interest in extra-curricular activities, and discuss and encourage them.
Don’t be judgemental when they want to narrate something that happened at school or with friends or when they voice their opinion about anything.
Patiently listen to them, as listening is also an excellent way of communication.
Never compare them in anyway regarding their appearance, dressing manner, academics or extra-curricular talents with their peers or siblings or with your own childhood accomplishments. It is very discouraging and detrimental to their tender hearts and development.
Compliment judiciously and honestly whenever they achieve something in school, play, art or even when helping you with household chores. This will make them more confident and self-reliant in facing any challenges in life. Don’t flatter them unnecessarily which gives them a false sense of grandeur and a complacent attitude outside.
Cultivate empathy towards others, tolerance to hardships, patience to get anything, and also, patriotism.
D – Discipline – Delegate – Develop ‘Goodness of Fit’:
The common understanding about discipline is being very strict, using terrorizing methods like hitting, punishing, spanking, etc. i.e., exhibiting or enforcing ‘rude authority’ over your kid. It’ll never work this way; they’ll act like they are complying in your presence; later they’ll do as they like. You do not want to be a traffic signal policeman where rules violation frequently happens in your absence, correct?
Instead, discipline is essentially a “loving authority” which you show with love and concern for the kid. It always works when accompanied by love and compassion, where the child internalizes it into his mind with a value and moral attitude forever.
It always has two components:
(i) Discipline in Daily Routine Activities - Getting up on time, refreshing and toilet training, meal times, school activities, play activities, prayers and a regular bedtime; includes gadget use timings also.
(ii) Discipline When Something Goes Wrong – This is like contingency management. Let us share some positive ways of disciplining:
Set clear, consistent and firm limits to what should be done and what shouldn’t be. Explain the good and the bad about such a behaviour.
Have a time limit of a few minutes of doing this disciplinary activity and avoid shouting the whole day about that.
Always tell them after this disciplining that while you love him/her so much, you just can’t accept that particular bad behaviour; then, hug them or pat their shoulders. Nonverbal expressions always have a greater impact than words alone.
Children learn by modelling and imitating of our behaviour, so, as already said ‘be good role models’ yourselves first. For example, many parents tell a lie to take a day off from the office or lie to avoid a visitor in front of the child. If parents behave like this, how can they instruct children about being truthful? Same thing happens in traffic as many parents violate traffic rules like jumping signals in a hurry to drop their child at school on time, setting a bad model for the kids. More importantly, avoid/minimise mobile use or
TV watching at home when interacting with your kids or at the dining table.
Be consistent in your discipline routines; many parents discipline children only when they are not in a good mood or are irritated by something/someone else, otherwise they don’t mind their bad behaviour. This confuses children especially younger ones a lot and they choose the convenient way instead of the right way. Both the parents should be consistent in a discipline rules, otherwise the child will take sides with the lenient parent.
Recognizing and appreciating positive and good behaviour is also a part of the disciplining activity as it’ll reinforce more positive behaviour in the child.
Talk to your child in a friendly manner and explain the reasons for that disciplinary activity and the bad consequences of undesirable behaviour.
Better not to give them choices; it’ll only confuse them more, especially young ones in the age group of 5-10 years. Give clear instructions about dos and don’ts.
Delegate appropriate works to the kids, even their own school activities including assignments; just discuss ideas, mobilize resources in a participatory manner and let them finish it on their own; that’ll increase their intellectual capacity, planning and executory skills and thereby boost up self-confidence.
Develop the “goodness of fit” with your child. You need to understand your basic temperament as well as that of your child; some children are ‘easy’, some ‘slow to warm-up’ and some really ‘difficult’ in temperament; interact with them accordingly. If needed, you have to get professional help when the situation is not manageable.
Before winding up, these are the few take-home messages and a gist of all we discussed so far:
Appreciate them even for those little achievements and the sincere efforts [a good try] they have made, even if they have not succeeded.
Better praise genuinely and compare only with their own past accomplishments than comparing with others. Be good models, not just empty advisers.
Communicate effectively with quality time and active listening and reflections whenever needed but don’t be judgemental.
Discipline in a more positive, consistent and loving way; never do shaming, blaming and never make them feel guilty for anything.
“All grownups were once children but very few remember it.”