Hello there everyone! Sir Post-A-Lot here once again on this happy Wednesday morning. Today we bring you an original article on parenting from our very own Rozy Khalid, a counsellor with us here at The Mind.
Parenting is never easy to begin with, and unfortunately, it’s one of those things in life that does not come with a handy guidebook or YouTube how-to-video to tell you the ins and outs about what you’ll need to do, or avoid at the very least. Part of the wonder of having children of our own is figuring out what makes each and every single one of them tick, and how we can bring out the very best in them.
So continue on below fellow readers! I bid thee farewell! Till next week!
There is absolutely no complete (or perfect) guideline or sufficient books that will prepare parents upon entering this new phase of their lives – parenthood. Every child is unique (and gifted) in their own way. In most cases, we often have the misconception that children are too young to understand or remember things – but they do, albeit not being able to comprehend things entirely as their internal working process functions differently than that of adults. As children transit towards adolescence, we observe more problematic or deviant behaviours and parents wonder where they went wrong. What we perceive could be “good” for our children sometimes may have a negative connotation at the end of the day. Here, we provide several pointers that parents often overlook:
“They’re too young to understand anyway.” – Sweeping things under the carpet
This is particularly common in regards to cases of divorce. What many parents are not aware of is the fact that a child may develop tendencies of self-blame as they witness the deterioration of the family structure. This is when you would most likely notice your child’s misbehaviours in school or rebellious predispositions if they’re in their teens.
What should be done: Yes, they may not be able to comprehend the situation wholly, but they should be pre-empted of the changes and reassured that they are not responsible for the divorce and that both parents will continue to love them in spite of the divorce. Any discussions done should be age-appropriate, taking into consideration their level of maturity (or what we call, their mental age). It is safe to say that you should have an open discussion with a teenage child (who’s most likely going through a turbulent phase in their life), and provide them the information they need deserve to know. They’ll probably find out anyway if you attempt to sugar coat things. Most importantly, do emphasise that it is NOT their fault and validate their feelings.
“When your toes don’t follow your nose”
Most parents would be guilty of this considering their hectic schedule, juggling the hours between work and family. One common (and simplest) scenario would be responding to a beautiful drawing they’ve sketched while reading the newspapers. What you should know is that, your child is also sensitive to your non-verbal cues. While you think you might have been verbally responsive to their needs and demands, being physically attentive and listening to them is just as crucial.
What should be done: Align your toes with your nose! Or in other words, turn your entire body around as you respond to them. This represents that you are giving them your 100 per cent attention. With such attention, you are securing your child, providing them the safe haven for positive emotional regulation. And (hopefully) they’ll grow to become an emotionally secured adult. Also, do bear in mind, that a healthy detachment is just as crucial as a healthy attachment. You will need to “free” them one day so they could spread their wings (and fly).
“Love is providing my child the best education”
Love is love. Education is education. Presents are presents. Love should not be materialised or it would be meaningless. Nowadays, we do see adults not being able to express their love towards their spouse and children other than getting something fancy. A child that is showered with materialistic objects rather than love, attention and care often experiences a form of abandonment; simply because they need a human figure to build significant attachments with, to provide them a sense emotional security.
What should be done: give them with your time and attention. Express your love towards them via verbal and non-verbal actions. I’m pretty sure a good night kiss on their forehead every night before bed would suffice. Undeniably, with the common “Asian ego” that is strongly embedded in most of us, it’s sometimes hard to express love in such a way. But there’s no harm trying. 😉
“So what did you friends get for their exams?”
Now, first things first. I believe it shouldn’t matter how another person’s child is doing in school. This is a common and subtle way of how parents often compare. You might not have said it bluntly “why can’t you be more like your sister!” (albeit it does occur out of anger or frustration), but subtle phrases and questions like how others did for their exams would indicate a sense of comparison.
What should be done: Giving them positive reinforcements and praises even in the absence good results – “you’ve done your best, kid. I’m so proud of you.” Try NOT to pair positive reinforcements and praises with how they academically perform in school. Remember that your child is unique and has his or her own strengths. It just the matter of finding what they’re good at and what are the things they’re drawn to. Undeniably, we have children whom I think can be quite “ambitious” wanting to try different things or constantly changing interests – quite common among college students these days – but this is where parents should set some ground rules and boundaries. If your child refuses to study for exams and end up getting poor grades, it could be an indication of a disciplinary problem. So, try not to be overly permissive but also provide them with certain conditions. It’s quite tricky, really.
“Well done, kid. Keep up the good work”
Many of us would think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the phrase. However, you might want to be wary of praising your child in such manner as it could impose the idea that they’re expected to maintain good results or they won’t be acknowledged. Indisputably, it is a good practice that as parents, we recognise our child’s efforts, but they should also know that you would still give them just as much love and attention despite their academic performance in school.
What should be done: instead of saying, “keep up the good work!” perhaps you could say how proud you are of them. Essentially, what is crucial to highlight here is that you don’t need to find a reason to express your love to them.
“iPad to the rescue…”
By giving in to your child’s tantrum, you are indirectly reinforcing their behaviour. They will associate screaming with positive reinforcement; thus, for every time your child wants to play a game on the iPad, he or she would throw a tantrum. Also, it is understandable that as parents, we feel apprehensive when this occurs in public, but be mindful that your own personal anxiety leads you to choosing the emergency exit. It takes time and effort in knowing your child and their behavioural patterns.
What should be done: validate their feelings and address how the behaviour is inappropriate and unacceptable. There are many other positive ways the child could react to express what they want. The key here is communication skills.
So why don’t you take a moment and give some of these steps ago. Who knows, it might make parenting that much pleasant a journey, and our kids would love us for it!