Published in Dina Thanthi Next (DTNext) Newspaper
SCIENCE OF PARENTING COLUMN
Published in Parent Circle Magazine
Mothers could do well to remember that once upon a time, their precious infant when hungry, cried to be suckled, and that the baby would be kept aside only when she stopped feeding. The mother never knew how much milk the baby consumed but trusted that the little one knew how much she needed for sustenance. So why should it be different now that she is older and is on solid food? Don’t we trust her anymore? We need to be aware of our own beliefs and observe if these are creating disharmony between us and our children.
We often use the words ‘hear’ and ‘listen’ synonymously. But a dictionary will reveal that they have quite different meanings. To ‘hear’ is to perceive a sound or to realize that someone is making a sound. On the other hand, to ‘listen’ is to pay attention to a sound. While to hear is simply to become conscious of sound, to listen is to make a conscious effort to hear. We may often hear without listening! So, do we merely hear or truly listen to our children?
As a parent, the first time your child lies to you, you are in shock. ‘How can my little one lie to me?’, you wonder. ‘I love her so much. Surely she ought to be honest with me.’ You are angry, baffled, and hurt. You shout at your child, “Lying is wrong. Always be honest.”
When parents are asked, “What do you want most for your child?”, the most common responses are Self-discipline, Honesty, Responsibility and Independent-thinking. The irony is that when we raise our children, our own actions do not reflect this. In fact, the methods that we use to discipline our children seldom promote what most of us would like for our children, which is self-discipline or true inner discipline.
Today, parents are enthusiastic and interested in helping children with their studies. They want their children to do well in academics and they feel that they must push their children to do their best in this competitive world. They meet their stumbling blocks at home...with homework issues! Instead of this tug of war, we can, if we choose to, use the homework opportunity to create a climate of learning and exploration at home. We can make it a bonding time with our children, through an activity made rewarding. For this, we need to know what we are doing wrong.
No single method of positive-disciplining (or disciplining without the use of the carrot or the stick) works every time. Different situations warrant different approaches. Sometimes we have had a bad day and that gets reflected in our interaction with our child. However, awareness and constant evaluation of our parenting helps us in our journey.
Do you break out in a sweat when your child wanrs to know where babies come from? Of course,you told her about the responsible stork who placed her at your doorstep. But she's at that age when she knows storks have better things to do. Was there ever a time when you had a frank discussion regarding sex?
Casting a child in a role begins early in life and quite innocently. When you think of your childhood, do the 'names' that got tagged along with your formal name resonate in your mind? Is there a label that has become a part of your identity beccause it was given to you by your parents or teachers?
Published in The Hindu Newspaper
As parents, we all want our children to be honest. If our children lie to us about the smallest thing, our first reactions are, "How can you tell a lie? If you tell lies like this who will ever believe you? Telling lies is a bad thing to do!" Instead, do we as parents ask ourselves the question, "Why did my child feel the need to lie to me?" Or "Where did my child learn to lie?"
In trying to understand why children "switch off" and close all channels of communication, parents first need to listen — to what the child is hearing. Listen to yourself speak. Throughout the day children keep hearing messages we ourselves would bristle at.
Parents are always asking why children touch everything. "When I have explained to the child that this is something that will break if you drop it, why does she still insist on doing it? When I have told her that we will all get sick if she puts her dirty fingers in the dosai batter, shouldn't she understand? And how can I allow my child to play in the mud in the playground which is so full of germs?" We need to understand whether children want to touch everything just to be defiant or is there a meaning to their actions? Maybe human nature drives them.
Do we have to teach children to share or does this come from within? Your three-year-old nephew comes over to play with your daughter, who is a few months younger. He makes his way over to her favourite teddy bear. After looking on for a few minutes, your daughter marches over with a determined expression and yanks the teddy from his hands.