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Monday, June 01, 2020

Be a parent, not a tyrant: Recognise your control issues

If you’re a person whose loved ones often complain of being overwhelmed or seem anxious around you, you may want to introspect and work on yourself so that they don’t feel stifled and can freely express themselves. 

Published: November 25, 2019 1:47:45 pm
parenting tips If parents have a warm attitude, so will they. (Source: Thinkstock/Getty)

By Ritika Jain

Have you yelled at your kid despite him scoring in the nineties but not achieving a hundred percent? Have you punished him or her for accidentally breaking something? Have you ridiculed him for having too much fun when he could have been studying like his brilliant cousin? Have you stopped her from being in mixed company because of what other people would think? Have you yelled at your child for half an hour despite him offering an apology? Then maybe you’ve been too harsh and it’s time to re-look at some fundamentals.

Be approachable

There’s a difference between a child being scared of you and them respecting you. One is being authoritarian and the other is being an authority figure. The latter is a good thing, just as long as they feel they can freely speak about what’s on their mind too. Children who are made to feel like they are talking to a wall often take the easy route and start lying, avoiding confrontations or simply give up on their own dreams. Just like you want your kids to respect your wishes, you ought to respect theirs too. It’s a good practice to make requests, not order them around.

Have room for discussion

Your child feels left out of conversations in school because he isn’t familiar with things his peers are watching or taking part in. Not because he’s not interested but because he does not have access to social media or a phone, simply because it makes you uncomfortable or it’s inconvenient for you to drive him to a certain class. It wouldn’t hurt to let him be part of a group and figure out a way to commute (maybe carpool) or have online presence under supervision. Some things are important to your child. Let him present his case and decide on a code of conduct together. Be reasonable and logical. Don’t be the person who says, “Because I said so”.

Compare notes with other parents

Talk to other parents about how often their kids are allowed to take time off from studying. If you’re the only parent who doesn’t allow certain things like attending a friend’s birthday party or planning a trip to Comic Con because you feel they’re excesses, you may be too restricting and taking away your kid’s potentially ‘happy memories’ and delaying their social development. Asserting independence and decision-making are an important part of growing up. In fact, you’ll teach your kids to be more responsible by letting them weigh their options for themselves.

Don’t nag or over-instruct

If you don’t want your kid to tune out when you’re talking, don’t sound like an instruction manual. Have pleasant conversations with them about their day and share some experiences of your own. If you’re constantly giving reminders about pending assignments or tidying up, you’ll end up being more frustrated yourself. Let them work out their own schedules and work at their own pace.

Have reasonable expectations

Just because you excelled at math or art, doesn’t mean it comes naturally to your child too. Be open to their points of view and approach to things. Appreciate the effort they put into an activity, not just the outcome. If your child is stage-shy, it’s enough that they attempted to recite a poem, the elocution isn’t important at that point.

Parenthesis: Leave your phone behind and take a walk with your child

Context is important

You shouldn’t talk in absolutes. Sometimes a rule needs to be relaxed as an exception. Example: You’re strictly against night-outs or sleepovers but wouldn’t you relent if your child entered a competition that won her an overseas trip, especially if you took into account the safe arrangements made by her school?

Don’t make a habit of dishing out threats

A child doesn’t learn about consequences if you threaten him, he learns by living through mistakes. If you make outrageous claims like not making food for him anymore, he’ll only learn that you don’t mean what you say. Instead, calmly talk about what upsets you or what is acceptable behaviour. Positive reinforcement often works better in the long run. That means praising them for what they’re doing right instead of focusing on what they’re doing wrong. If you’ve ever overreacted, it’s okay to apologise later for your own bad behaviour. After all, kids emulate you.

Accept your kids for who they are

Disciplining is easier when a child is receptive and that culture is set by you at home. If you have a warm attitude, so will they. Assure your child that you love them unconditionally, that their habits might irk you but that doesn’t mean you don’t like them. Never resort to emotional blackmailing to get what you want from them. Many cases of teenage depression are reported because the parents are unwilling to accept their kid’s sexuality or are forcing them to opt for a stream they aren’t confident about. In fact, showing confidence in your child will enhance their self-esteem and they’ll do better in anything they choose to do.

Recognise your own ‘control’ issues

Many people unknowingly like to be the one with power in all their relationships. This usually stems from a ‘fear’ of loss of control due to prior trauma or lack of trust in their own life and they may end up micromanaging, over-protecting, expecting perfectionism, or even physically punishing their kids. If you’re a person whose loved ones often complain of being overwhelmed or seem anxious around you, you may want to introspect and work on yourself so that they don’t feel stifled and can freely express themselves.

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