Building Healthy Relationships
Children are born with an inborn temperament, a preferred style of relating to people and events. Temperament is indicated by behaviour that can be classified into three categories – Easy, slow-to warm up and difficult. Thus, it is true that there is no single correct method of raising children. Parenting is a process that involves a certain amount of discretion. Children need different levels of attention, expression of love and toughness.
Raising children is one of the toughest and the most fulfilling jobs in the world. As a parent we are least prepared for this job. Learning on the job how to be a parent can be fraught with pitfalls. So instead of talking about good or bad parenting, I think of it as Effective or Ineffective parenting. The best way to raise positive children in a negative world is to have positive parents who love them unconditionally and serve as excellent role models.
While there are no easy answers in parenting, the following strategies may help you support your child, while reducing the risk of serious harm to your child.
Disciplining school-going children
- Get your child involved in setting limits and rules — Children in the age group of 4-7 are able to talk about their feelings and are able to understand why some rules are necessary. They begin to develop better self control. But you should expect some steps forward and some back for they are still young.
- Speak to your child the way you want him to speak to you, don’t shout and remember to say please and thank you.
- When a child is misbehaving, talk to him when he is peaceful. Ask him about what was making him unhappy or what he was thinking and feeling.
- Focus on behaviour you want to see, not what he is doing wrong. So give Do’s instead of Don’ts.
- Children at this stage are able to understand rules, but avoid going into too much detail. Long explanations can be confusing.
- Be consistent and firm. If you waver, he will know he can push boundaries again the next time.
Tips for busy parents of Teens
Today’s busy parents are not always able to make time to find out what is going on in the lives of their teens. The following parenting tips can offer help in this area –
- As a parent you must help your child to do his/her home work but don’t do it all yourself.
- When a child does something wrong, don’t freak out. Talk to your child about it when you are alone with him.
- Children must spend time on sports and with their friends, but they should also have time for the family and take up some home responsibility.
- Don’t trap your child. Some parents look to ‘catch their child in the act’ of misbehaviour that the child is indulging in. This will not work.
- Spend quality time with your child. This enhances the child’s self-esteem.
- Be consistent, follow through–use actions, not words instead of nagging or yelling. Actions speak louder than words. Your child will learn to respect you if you mean what you say.
- Appreciate children for tasks well done, seek their advice and give them choices. Thus, they will grow in self-esteem.
- Withdraw from conflict – If your child is testing you through a temper tantrum or being angry or speaking disrespectfully to you, it is best to leave the room or tell the child to leave. Don’t leave in anger.
- Never tell your child that he is bad. That destroys his self esteem. Help your child recognise that you love him but it is his/her behaviour that you are unwilling to tolerate. So separate the deed from the doer. It will help your child to have healthy self-esteem; he must know that he is loved by you unconditionally.
- Most parents want to get an ugly situation under control as soon as possible. They look for an expedient solution. This often reflects in the behaviour of the child who feels overpowered. If we spank our child, he will learn to use acts of aggression to get what he wants when he grows up.
So understand your child because nothing in this world is more important than your child. Do not worry that children never listen to you: worry that they are always watching you.
Positive parenting–for strong-willed children
Strong-willed children can be a challenge when they are young but if sensitively parented, they become terrific teens and young adults. They are self motivated and they go after what they want; they are almost impervious to peer pressure. Some parents call them difficult or stubborn children. But these children are people of integrity, who are not easily swayed from their own view point. These children are spirited and courageous. They want to learn things for themselves rather than accepting what others say, so they test limits over and over. Often strong- willed children are prone to power struggle with their parents. However, it takes two to have a power struggle; you don’t have to get into every argument started by him. These children can be a handful with high energy, challenging, persistent. So we have to nurture their qualities and encourage their cooperation.
- Avoid power struggle by using routine and rules.
- It is effective to be calm, and thus avoid wear and tear in your relationship and of your nerves.
- Let the child take charge of as many of his own activities as possible. Don’t nag him. Children who feel independent and in-charge of themselves will have less need to be oppositional; they take responsibility early because they want mastery more than anything else.
- If you give orders, the child will almost always get angry. If you offer a choice, he feels like the master of his own destiny. So give your child choices. He will learn to be independent.
- Give him authority over his own body. If you order he will naturally resist you. But teach him that there is no shame in letting new information change his mind.
- Don’t push your child into opposing you. You will know when it is a power struggle between you and your child. If you are investing in winning a battle against your child, you always stand to lose. What’s most important is the relationship. You don’t have to prove you are right.
- You can set reasonable expectations and enforce them. But under no circumstances you should try to break your child’s will or force him to give in to your views. He has to do what you want, but he is allowed to have his own opinions and feelings also. So listen to him. Just consider how you would want to be treated and treat him accordingly.
- Discipline him through the relationship, never through punishment. The more you punish your child, the more you undermine his desire to please you. Allow him to express his hurt/ fears/ disappointment, so that he can overcome them. You are a role model for your child.
- Provide a supportive and loving atmosphere at home. Most strong-willed children fight for respect. If you offer it to them, they don’t need to fight to protect their position. So offer him respect and empathy.
- Nurture his natural spirituality. Create an atmosphere where the child is encouraged to grow in his intelligence. The child will become spiritual without even knowing the word spirituality.
Rajkumar Sharma is the Principal of Satyug Darshan Vidyalaya (Residentialcum Day Boarding school), Faridabad, Haryana under the aegis of Satyug Darshan Trust (Regd.) whose vision and mission is based on the Ideology of Equanimity & Even Sightedness. Satyug Darshan Vidyalay is known for value based education (VBE). R.K. Sharma believes that real education prepare the child for life. R.K.Sharma has been awarded by various organization for his hard work and passion for teaching —-Rastiya Vidya Saraswati Puraskar (ISC, Delhi) Rastiya Siksha Jyoti Award (IIEM, Delhi), Life time Achievement & Gold Medal (ISC, Delhi), Best Principal, Haryana By SOF, Honoured by Faridabad Manufacturing Association and Siksha Rattan Award By Vishwa Mitra Parivar, Delhi.