A parent is born the moment the child is conceived. It makes one responsible at the very instant the realisation of having a baby is dawned upon. Each and every moment in the parenting journey is a chapter in itself which accounts to a manual on parenting for oneself. However this manual is very personal and each child, even if genetically from the same parents.
In this journey of bringing up children, there are many hits and misses, trials and errors which take the milestones leap further in understanding our children. No matter each child is different and there are different needs, but what stands common are some of the below-mentioned parenting hacks to bring up children in a holistic manner.
1. Avoiding confrontations in front of the child:
The child tends to take the relationship goals from the kind of relationship he/she witnesses. It is very critical that the baby witnesses calm and composed interactions. Aggression is a big no-no. It is very natural to have differences, but equally important that these differences are sorted behind doors, especially not in front of the child. I being a parent now have come to the extensive use of WhatsApp now to sort out differences between me and my husband. Technology here comes to help
2. Speaking a Common Language:
It is crucial that the parents, especially along with other members of the family, are in accordance with a common language, though in front of a child when it comes to discipline. Most Indian families have grandparents staying with the couple and the child is sheltered by them during the times when parents scold them. There are times when there are individual differences in the mother and father’s disciplining styles, but for the benefit of the child, they need to bridge this gap and abide by which parent is right in that particular situation. The recent ad of ‘All out’ aiming to make a message to stand by tough moms is a step in this direction.
Displaying Gender neutrality:
in the era when women rights and egalitarian roles are gaining popularity, fathers please don’t shy away to go into the kitchens, help women in the household chores. Let the child witness neutrality in the roles assumed for certain gender roles in the society. Men should be at ease to hand over the cars to women, in spite of their availability at the same time and just hold the baby with the woman driving. Similarly, women should go ahead to do simple chores like changing the bulbs, using the toolbox to fix things in the house. The simple logic is to break stereotypes.
4. Showing intimacy:
Parents should be comfortable, in fact, it is a very good idea to kiss your partner, hold hands, hug each other before your child’s eyes. These actions secure the child and make him/her believe in the cordiality of the relationship. It shouldn’t be a show off as children are smart enough to judge what is real affection and intention and what is fake. Where PDA’s are not socially accepted but when it comes to showing love to your family members, one shouldn’t be hesitant to show something as pure as love. This could extend to men loving their wives, mothers, sisters and vice versa. The Point highlighted here is the expression is important else children will gradually learn to hold back their feelings and emotions too in the long run.
5. Expression of appreciation:
When we praise small efforts of anyone in the family be it good cooking, better driving skills, proper management of finances, good house management or just simple presentations skills of work, we are teaching children a very important skill…APPRECIATION. It starts from simple things at home, but learning to appreciate is a life skill giving children an edge over other in terms of soft skills. In league to this, it is equally important to teach them to be vocal about their appreciation and sense of admiration.
An attitude of gratitude:
In one of my seminars on children and spirituality, I realised children these days are not taught what they are blessed with, as things are easily accessible to them and every parent gives them the best they can afford. The need to make them aware of how privileged they are needs to be instilled by starting to make children understand gratitude. A simple way to start the same is by making them talk every day about one or more good things they did or something they felt bad about. Gradually, with this understanding of good and bad, morality gradually finds a place in daily living and something as intangible as gratitude becomes a part of the child’s thinking!
More than just providing the best things to the child, it is crucial to communicate with children. The best is always family meals, which could be breakfast, lunch or dinner but to negate the mobile, newspapers, any heated arguments are to be practised at that time. To just talk and have dialogues with children is cathartic for the child. It is really not important to talk about ‘serious’ stuff like academics or classes, but it could be something as silly as a TV show and its anecdotes, or a movie watched recently as a family. The keyword is to Talk!! What disturbs me as a Child Psychologist is families walk out of halls without discussing what the movie was all about. Each age group might have viewed the movie differently even though the storyline remains the same, but what children take back in their impressionable minds, needs to be lightly discussed.
8. Role modelling:
As said by John Locke, children’s minds are like a blank slate and what they view they tend to model. Parents, siblings as well as other members of the family should model desirable behaviour for children to emulate the same. Even though family members might dislike a lot of things but vocalise the same in front of the child, is not suggested. This could include dislike for a particular food, religion, caste, profession or anything. Maintaining neutrality and showing tolerance to all aspects of the household and the society at large needs to be modelled by parents especially for the benefit of the child.
9. Pressurising the child:
It is advisable to introduce the child to all kinds of exposures existing, be it with toys, games, puzzles, classes, media, gadgets however it is essential to remember that the child is not pressurised to achieve a particular task. Do not compare your child with fellow age mates, it is the key to success. I always suggest parents to not be overambitious in setting targets for the child. It’s important that the child is exposed to the things existing in its ecosystem, as its inevitable they will have interactions with those things sometime or the other. But only introduction is important and not pressing the child to achieve a task introduced. Letting the child, to explore at its own pace is critical.
10. Free Play/Time:
While in today’s time, parents tend to schedule a child’s day with classes be it painting, art, music, dance or sports or anything that they feel their children should be picking up as a talent/Hobby. However, it’s also equally pertinent that the child is given some time to justify himself/herself rather than stuck in the rigmaroles of daily routines. It is this free time that brings out the creativity in the child. Free time is essential for the child to think what he/she can do out of his/her mind that is unengaged in any kind of structured activity.
Parenting is a very personal journey but the above-mentioned points are sure to bring out a child holistically in the long run.