Parenting tips I learnt last month (sept-oct 2020)-II

This post is in continuation to my previous post on what I learnt from Clinical Psychologist Marietta Rodrigues’ seminar on parenting in the 21st century. Life today is very different from when we were children and we cannot expect the same methods to work. All the same we would not want to compromise on raising honest and trustworthy children and teaching them social skills. Here are some tips I learnt and am consciously incorporating in my parenting approach.

  1. How to raise honest and trustworthy children? 
    The answer is very simple. Be honest and trustworthy yourself. Don’t tell them the noodles you are eating are spicy because you want to indulge in unhealthy instant noodles. Don’t tell them to answer the phone or door and say you are not around while you peep and watch. Kids watch and learn. We may be telling a lie to avoid being fined for over speeding. But a lie is a lie. If we lie how can we correct our child for telling a lie? Simply because we have told them not to? But who will tell them the meaning of a lie? They are being punished for behaving like us. The obvious reaction to a correction in this case would be back answering/  slamming doors or walking out of the house to find company that makes sense or stays silent as they puff away. Who is responsible?
    They will trust you if you stick to your word. 20 min screen time means 20 min. No amount of tantrums should result in a change of mind. If your heart is weak like mine, offer something else. 
    I’m pausing this post now to put off the television and take them for a drive as I had promised them. See that you keep your promises, and if you are unsure about being able to, say something like “I will try to”, “I will if everything goes as planned”, etc. Do not use these phrases instead of “no” or “I cannot”. If you do then you will loose their respect and trust.
    We tell our kids that stealing is wrong. But if they bring another child’s stationery home we either don’t bother or punish them. Have we tried to find out the reason? Do we bring stationery home from work?  
    We need to remember that we are our children’s role models. So be what you want your child to grow up to be. Remember that the student often surpasses the teacher.
  2. How to inculcate social skills in our children?
    The only way to inculcate social skills like maintaining eye contact while talking, listening, using good manners, sharing, cooperating, following directions and respecting personal space is by exhibiting them in our day to day functioning. If I have my eyes on my phone while my child is communicating with me then I’m setting a very bad example. Look into your child’s eyes while she talks. You can check your messages later. If we play with our cells during meals or eat with our mouths open then they will too. The child does not know that you behave differently in the presence of others. We need to share with, cooperate with and follow directions (at times dictated by them) to teach them the same. If we teach them to disrespect personal space by checking their personal diaries and cell phones we will only loose their respect and make them more secretive. There are other positive ways to get them to open up to us. 
  3. What can I do to increase my child’s trust and confidence in me so that I can help my child whenever required?
    Good communication from the beginning goes a long way in building your relationship with your child. Do not wait for them to become teenagers to become their friend. It may just be a little too late. Marietta, in her talk stressed on the importance of communication between parents and children. It not only helps parents and children express themselves freely without feeling judged but also helps build the child’s self esteem, helps them build good relationships with others and an overall healthy relationship. If we create an environment of trust and listen to our children then they are more likely to approach us for help. Keep telling them that no matter what happens you love them. After I correct my child or show her that I’m unhappy with her behavior she tries her best to rectify the situation or ask for forgiveness and then asks “Mama, are you happy with me?”. This is when I reinforce my love for her and tell her that I’m always happy with her but feel sad when she disobeys or raises her hand. The hugs and kisses that follow erase  all memories of the not so pleasant episode.
  4. How do we deal with the menace of technology? (This is one point that I am presently preaching and motivating myself to practice)
    Well, it is a necessary evil but we cannot just surrender to it. For starters one could offer an alternative. Take them cycling, or for a drive, or make folding the laundry fun (somehow works with my kids),bake with them, read a book, go for a walk with them, have a music jam session,…..do something constructive your kids enjoy. Dr. Barish has written on this topic too. Do check out his post https://kennethbarish.com/2015/08/19/kids-screens-and-play/. It is meant more for older kids.

I could go on and on, but the most important thing is to remember that children are great imitators and we need to give them something great to imitate. Our role as role models needs to be taken very seriously.
We need to be aware, and when required work on changing, the way we treat others, react to situations and utilize our time. If we do not respect our parents and employees, our children with neither respect adults nor those a little lower to them either in age or social status. Being aware of our words and actions is the first step to raising healthy children. We all make mistakes. Say sorry and when required correct yourself vocally (especially in front of your children). There is no harm in being humble and asking your child to forgive you for acting in a fit of anger. As soon as you realize you have gone wrong, apologize.
I learnt a lot from Mrs. Marietta’s talks that got me to do a lot of researching and reflecting of my own. I hope I penned down most of what I learnt from her and I truly hope it helps you.
I was going through my blog and it looked like a blog of a pretty perfect mother with a close to perfect family. Honestly, we are far from it. But one must concentrate on the good to be able to grow positively. We all have bad days. We all make mistakes. Don’t kill yourself. Look out for help. When Pedro Arrupe Institute organised the online seminar on parenting with Mrs. Marietta Rodrigues, we grabbed the opportunity. Informed and responsible parenting is what I have seen my parents demonstrate. With changing times we cannot always stick to old methods. We always feel we are doing the best for our children and seminars like this can be eye openers.
I also attended an inner healing retreat by Fr. Michael Payyapilli, the details of which will follow in my next post. This retreat enlightened my mind on the impact a bad or not so good childhood could have on us in our adulthood.   

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