Updated: December 22, 2015 2:24:09 pm
“A lot of parents will do anything for their kids except let them be themselves”. – Banksy
There’s no such thing as ‘perfect parenting’. Being a parent is a full-time job and a difficult one at that. So, it’s only human if at times most parents unwillingly slip in and out of their roles of being the guiding force.
In fact, think of all your goof-ups as a learning experience for both you and your child. Acknowledge your shortcomings and start working on them. This way, you are setting an example for your child that it’s okay to make mistakes, provided you own up to it and make amends.
During an Express Masterclass on ‘How to be a better parent’, Gloria Burrett, integrative psychotherapist, gave us some valuable inputs on how to raise a child. Here are some of the salient points.
Learn to trust your gut feeling: Use your intuition to guide your child. If in doubt, remind yourself that there are no fixed rules in parenting. Tailor your parenting skills to suit you and your child’s needs. Maybe, this way you won’t have to wear a mask of superfluous authority at all times.
If your child is stubborn, use gentle force. Bossing him/her around will not work. Instead, take the trouble to find out how to get your message across and devise your strategy accordingly. It’s all about playing smart. Keep your child’s interests in mind rather than indulging your own needs and aspirations, but stay alert and be very careful not to fall into the trap of helicopter parenting.
Don’t let your child overpower you: Now, most parents complain about not being able to handle their child and eventually succumbing under pressure. So, the golden rule is to simply make sure your intentions and strategies are the same when it comes to delivering. For instance, if your child throws a tantrum for something he/she wants immediately, say ‘no’ if you think it’s not right. You need to understand that for a child, everything is a need.
Let him/her develop a sense of tolerance. Let him/her cry his/her heart out. It’s difficult to see your child suffer, sure, but it’s all for a greater good. Let him/her experience frustration without you hovering around the sacred space. But be there when he/she needs you. And while you are at it, your child may feel unloved and neglected — which, in some cases, might lead to negative feelings — but don’t worry, it’s just a natural process and short-lived. You can easily break through the barrier with love and open dialogues.
Do away with stereotypes: The ability to command respect is something every parent yearns for. But it’s only possible if you connect with your child at a deeper level. In all humility, communication and trust is the key, but it’s also accepting the fact that your child is a unique entity with a life of his/her own.
Don’t compare your childhood to that of your child’s, and don’t keep repeating instances that involve telling him/her about how you were a much better kid in comparison. It’s not easy to avoid deriving reference from you own childhood or comparing him/her with his/her siblings or friends since Indian parents are wired that way, but try steering clear of it. You simply cannot expect your child to do the same things that others have done while growing up.
Take a closer look at yourself: Move away from the kids for once and take a closer look at yourself. Along with your emotional quotient (EQ), you should also focus on your playfulness quotient (PQ). Start working on it as this may change the dynamics of your relationship. You need to realise that your attitude towards life will leave a huge impact on your child. And, while this holds true, it’s vital that you maintain — or just in case you don’t have one, develop — a sense of humour.
(Also read: Yoga can improve a man’s parenting skills)
To be a good parent, you will need humour and a never-ending supply of patience. But it’s easier said than done. Even then, try and be attentive and listen to what your child has to say. Initiate and encourage dialogues, just like you are conversing with an adult. This way you can get your child to share his/her feelings. But please refrain from being judgemental, and, that too, soon. It will simply backfire and create confusion.
Treat your child as a grown-up, but be strict when needed: First things first, start treating your child as an individual and listen to what he/she has to say. A child is always vocal and each one of them has their own unique way of expressing things. If you do so, you will immediately see results. But at the same time, don’t be too lenient; always maintain a balance. Adopt an approach keeping in mind your child’s characteristics. If there is a problem, make sure that you address it at the earliest. Don’t procrastinate. Things will only get worse as your child might never get a clear message. Ground him/her, if needed.
This way you can get him/her thinking. But don’t leave it to your child completely to understand the logic behind your actions. Use subtle ways to discuss it. For instance, if your 5-year-old child refuses to keep his/her toys in their place every time after his/her play session, then initiate a conversation when he/she asks for the toys the next time. Let him/her know that you will get the toys provided it’s back in its place. Remember, to use a soft tone.
Teach your child to be a good human being: A sign of a healthy tree is a strong root. Similarly, for your child to flourish, you need to imbibe the right sense of belonging in him/her. Also, the ability to be grateful, happy, adaptive, emotionally balanced, spiritually secure and financially independent does not come easy. You will have to be the guiding force.
It will also require on your part to refrain from being over protective. Never lie for your child as it will never get him/her to be a responsible person. Let him/her be accountable for his/her actions. For instance, if your child has not studied for a test, don’t bail him/her out from school with a fake sick leave note. Also, don’t force him/her to do things if he/she says no. It’s important that your child learns to reply in the negative at times. Confused? Well, this way it will become easier for him/her to say ‘no’ to peer pressure. Self-opinion will hold an important place and there will be no fear of not being accepted in the circle.
To summarise, the future of your child is directly proportionate to your parenting abilities and like everything else in life, it will require a lot of practise on your part. You will need the patience and sharpness to be tuned into what’s happening, the humility to accept the shortcomings and a heightened ability to not impose verdicts.
Remember, you don’t have to be perfect in the eyes of your child, you just need to be humane.
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