Look Beyond Punishment

When parents feel their child has done something wrong, they resort to punishment. This punishment may be in the form of warnings, lectures, threats, sarcasm or worse, hitting their kids. And when they get upset afterwards, we believe they’ll become alright after sometime. What we don’t realise is the extent of damage we might be causing to their psyche and that no amount of love later on can undo this damage.

Why do we punish?

Parents often justify punishment that if children are not punished, they’ll become worse or they’ll get away without facing any consequences of their wrong doing. They also feel that doing nothing would make them powerless as parents.

How will it affect the child?

It’s not just tears or a sour face that is the outcome of punishment. Children may have feelings of hatred, revenge, defiance against their parents. They may even begin to feel unworthy, guilty or go in the mode of self pity, thus shattering  their confidence and self-esteem.

Will it make the children realise their mistake?

When we punish, we stop the natural process through which the children analyse their behaviour, realising how wrong they were and how they can improve upon it. Punishment shifts their focus on how they were a victim and how badly they were dealt with rather than amending their mistakes. 

 Is there an alternative?

It is not the question of mild or harsh punishment but the way you make your point to your children that their behaviour is unacceptable. Instead of shouting, slapping or criticising them, try to distract them. If it doesn’t work, tell them in a clear and firm manner that they’re misbehaving and you are not liking it. If they still don’t listen, let them face the consequences by making them sit in their room without toys or not taking them out as promised.

“Is the punishment justified?” ask yourself

You’re in a more powerful situation being mightier and older to your child. Don’t ever misuse this. If children act naughty, do silly things, make careless mistakes – it is natural. They cannot be expected to act like adults. So don’t act like a dictator or an inspector, let children be themselves.

This article appeared in Hindustan Times

FRIENDS ARE ESSENTIAL, NOT OPTIONAL FOR A CHILD’S GROWTH

Friendship is that precious bond which is not imposed on a child but is created and nurtured by the child himself/herself. Friends are indispensable for the kids to grow and evolve as a person. It helps them to learn how to socialise and respect others feelings. When friends accept a child, it makes one feel important, boosts confidence, empowers self-esteem and helps one explore the joys of growing up.

Help your child make friends

Children need to be shown and given a chance to make friends. Give opportunities to them where they can interact with other children of their age and develop friendships like take them to the park, places of friends and neighbours or make them join hobby classes.

Let your children choose their friends

Don’t impose your choice on your children. Don’t try to fix them with studious kids just because you think they’ll have a positive influence on your child. Let your children form a group they feel comfortable and can relate with.

Guide instead of protecting your child from bad company

Keep guiding your kids about right and wrong. Develop their strength of mind so that they don’t do wrong things under the pressure of peer groups and themselves keep away from friends that are having a negative influence on them.

Don’t interfere in their relationships

Let your kids clear the misunderstandings that crop up and steer their friendship ahead. In case of a rift, don’t try to shield them by belittling their friends. Such a false image would prevent them from recognizing their own shortcomings and never develop lasting friendships.

This article appeared in Hindustan Times

DON’T COMPARE

When parents compare their child with other children, they don’t realise what harm they are causing to his/her psyche. ‘Nisha, try to become a little outgoing.  See Shilpa is so smart’ or ‘if Amit can score so well, I am sure you can too.’ Such words of parents in order to ‘improve’ their child not only shake a child’s confidence but their whole personality.

Don’t assess your children in their presence

Hold discussion about your child’s strengths and weaknesses in private. Names of other children may crop up during such conversations which can make your child feel insecure about themselves.

Your child is unique

It’s not just important to avoid comparing your children when they are around but you also need to stop doing it in your mind. Don’t expect your children to excel in every field or similar areas like the children of your friends or relatives. They may possess latent talent which you can help them realise and develop with your encouragement.

Your child’s achievements are not your status symbol

Don’t look for moments of glory in your child’s feats. If your child is not doing too well academically, or is not bringing trophies to flaunt, don’t feel guilty in front of friends and relatives.

Guide your child, spare comparisons

Discuss with your children about their areas of weaknesses, and help them to establish yardsticks according to their capabilities and not according to the achievements of friends.

Your opinions mean the most to your child

As parents, you can make or break your child’s confidence. Your attitude to measure their performance against that of other children would make them believe that they are not as good as them. This would destroy their confidence and trust in themself. So go ahead and give your child a pat on the back saying, ‘I am proud of you.’

This article appeared in Hindustan Times

PREPARE YOURSELF FOR A NEW LIFE

Motherhood is the most beautiful experience, the greatest right of a woman. At the same time it is the most challenging role of life. A child, along with joys, brings responsibilities and fulfilling them may lead to frustration. Needless to say this will incapacitate you as a mother and your unhappiness will affect your precious little one. So be mentally prepared before you bring a tiny soul into this world.

Ask yourself, ‘Are you ready for a child?

Bearing a child leads to emotional and physical changes. It also means changes in the routine and resetting of priorities. Ready yourself or a life after all these changes.

Becoming a mother doesn’t mean ‘sacrificing’ yourself

Girls generally feel anxious that motherhood would take away their freedom. Well it definitely means you need to strike a balance but if you wish you can pursue your career, your hobbies, or fulfil your desire to chill out with friends. Infact, every mother should do everything that keeps her happy for that will keep the child happy.

Bringing up a child is not solely the responsibility of a mother

A mother indeed plays the most vital role but yet it’s the whole family which collectively brings up a child. Enrol your husband and the rest of the members of the family to contribute in nurturing the little one and don’t be a perfectionist who wants to take care of each & everything of the child.

Collect information about children

Read books on child rearing, talk to mothers about their experience, seek advice from your doctor. It’ll make you aware of your responsibilities, help you plan and settle your anxieties.

Count the joys of motherhood

If there will be sleepless nights, there’ll be days when your child will make you laugh with his or her toothless smile. If there’ll be tantrums, there will also be warm hugs and pure love. There is no way that any pain can overpower the eternal joy a child brings in the life of a woman.

This article appeared in Hindustan Times

DO YOU TAKE YOUR CHILD’S SUCCESS AS YOUR OWN?

You’ll think ‘Of course my child’s success is mine.’ And what about their failure? You’ll promptly reply ‘Yes, they too are mine.’ There is nothing wrong if the parent feels proud of the child’s success and takes responsibility to help their children improvise in case they fail. But what happens when parents cross this line and start relating their child’s achievements or downfalls as their own. Are you one of those?

Do you consider your child your status symbol?

Father and son talking

When your child doesn’t perform in front of guests or doesn’t bag prizes, do you feel embarrassed or ashamed? You may be a CEO of your company or a successful entrepreneur, remember your children are yet to discover their identity. They are yet to learn from their mistakes, yet to live their life.

Are you in competition with other parents?

Swimming classes at the club, guitar classes at home, dance classes at the academy, weekend classes of ‘How to improve your Maths.’ Are you trying to create a super kid so that you can boast to be a supermom?

Are you trying to fulfil your dreams through your child?

Every parent has dreams of their children. And while dreaming, they want their children to have all that they don’t have, achieve what they couldn’t. Let your child weave their own dreams and not get crushed under your pressure.

Are you living solely for your child?

Mother and daughter on laptop computer

Parents sometimes start thinking, doing and living only for their child and stop living their own life. Too much involvement has an adverse effect on a child’s growth and they just can’t step out of their parent’s shadow.

Is all this causing irreparable damage?

Yes, it is. You are unknowingly killing your child’s natural abilities, depriving them to come out with their true colours, taking away from them their golden childhood, marring their confidence and independence. Accept the fact that your child is the most beautiful and important part of your life but certainly not your whole life.

This article appeared in Hindustan Times

MAKE BEDTIME SPECIAL

According to your calculation, you know it’s time to sleep because your child has to be up in the morning for school or you have some other plans. But your naughty little darling doesn’t want to sleep. What do you do? Create fuss over his/her fussiness? Certainly not. So how do you ensure that his/her fussiness changes into readiness at bedtime?

Understand why children create fuss

When we force children to sleep at the time we want, they feel their independence is being taken away. In order to be in control of the situation, they rebel. So, always give them a choice to wait for 5 or 10 minutes or make it look as if they are sleeping with their own choice.

Be relaxed yourself

Don’t stretch yourself so much during the day that you are too tired at the time of sleep and you have no room for flexibility. Always start the sleep routine a little early and save energy keeping in mind the margin for your child’s tantrums.

Offer choice rather than orders

Make your child find fun in getting ready for sleep. Like do you want to dress up in a yellow or red night suit, do you want to sleep with a teddy bear or your dog and so on?

Do special things

Read stories to your children, engage in a warm chat, discuss their day, give lots of kisses and hugs before you put your child to bed so that the child feels special. Make bed-time a time when you can relax and strengthen your bond with the child.

Both the parents should participate

Children feel secure, loved, and complete when both father and mother join in with the child at the time of sleep. They enjoy the fact that at the end of the day the most important people in their life are by their side and they doze off with a smile.

HELP YOUR CHILD DEVELOP RESPECT FOR HARD WORK

Nothing comes in life on a platter; you need to work hard to earn it. We all nurse the desire to see our child grow up into a hardworking, responsible adult who is focussed to achieve success in life. For this, make your child realise the importance of hard work and develop respect for hard work in small ways, right from the beginning.

Don’t give everything they ask for

Every parent loves to pamper their children. But don’t go overboard buying anything they demand or else they’ll take everything for granted. May it be clothes, toys, movies, follow certain rules so that your children develop self-control and values whenever they get something.

Don’t give readymade solutions

Don’t make things so readily available for your children that they don’t realise how much effort is required to do a task. For this, ask for your child’s help in the kitchen or cleaning the bedroom. While doing the home assignments or school projects, involve your child in collecting stuff or doing research rather than making all the effort yourself.

Talk to them about the hard work in your life

Parents give their children everything from food, clothes to the luxury of outings, toys. Children often don’t realise that each facility they enjoy comes after sheer hard work. 

Develop respect for people who work hard

Show your child how people like the gardener, the servants of the house and other helpers are doing so much of work. Set an example by yourself respecting helpers so that your child begins to respect and realise the importance of hard work.

Develop respect for hard earned money

Make children realise that money should be spent judiciously and care should be taken of things bought from that hard earned money. Make it a habit for your children to stack toys after playing, not to waste food. Inculcate the habit to save and give freedom to them to use their savings the way they want to. This way your child will begin to value hard-earned money and also value what all they have in life. 

This article appeared in Hindustan Times

OVERPROTECTION DOES MORE HARM THAN GOOD TO YOUR CHILD

As parents, being conscious of your child’s well being is natural. But check yourself if this concern exceeds its limits and takes the shape of overprotection. For this can alter your child’s impressionable mind and thus hamper their whole personality.

Don’t say don’t all the time

At times parents fear too much about their child’s physical safety. They don’t let them walk without holding finger, or play on swings on their own or jump on sofa lest they fall and get hurt. This attitude may save your child from getting a few scratches but mar their independence and confidence forever.

Let children be themselves

Parents often forbid their child to play with mud, clay or water worrying they’ll get dirty or become sick. But this is the way children have fun, explore new things and grow into happy confident adults.

Your anxiety passes on to the child

When parents worry and issue a set of instructions to their child while going out on excursions or on adventurous camps, children also get anxious and conscious of their every move. Let children enjoy and live life to the hilt.

Overprotection weakens a child’s mental strength

An environment of overprotection has an everlasting influence on a child’s personality whereby a child is unable to deal with the challenges of life. Such children always fear to experiment, and are thus always followers and never leaders.

Trust your child’s ability to handle their life

Let your child experience life in every way and learn from their mistakes. Remember, just guide your child from your experiences but don’t live their life. Let them have their share of ups and downs and emerge strong.

HELP YOUR CHILD DEAL WITH HIS FEARS SUCCESSFULLY

A fear in a child is as common as their being fussy about eating. Just like children grow up to leave behind their fussiness, their fears too go away depending upon how you handle them. Hence, deal with your child’s fears positively.

Accept your child’s fears

Don’t deny or force your children to hide their fears or else they’ll remain suppressed in their mind. If your children are afraid of dark stairs or refuse to go to the bathroom alone, don’t lose patience or ignore them. Try to think from their perspective.

Never scold the child

Don’t ever rebuke or ridicule a child for being fearful. Belittling them this way will only make them hide their fears and feel perplexed about their personality.

Think before you speak

At times, parents themselves are the cause of developing phobias in a child. ‘Finish your meal or the ghost will come’ or ‘Go to sleep or the monster will grab you,’ leave a lasting impression on a child’s mind and take the form of phobias.

Make your child courageous

Encourage your children to act brave even when faced with fear. Check out with them under the bed to reassure them that there is no ‘ghost.’ This way they’ll dare to look beyond their fears, go ahead and act.

Talk to your child about his fears

Let your child express when, how and why they feel afraid. Tell them even you had fears at their age. This will make them believe that they are not the only one going through this phase of life. This open communication, your acceptance and reassurance will make your children confident of overcoming their fears one day.

This article appeared in Hindustan Times

STRENGTHEN YOUR CHILD TO HANDLE PEER PRESSURE

Peer group has the most profound influence on a child’s life. The child’s opinions, beliefs and attitude are shaped according to his/her friends. Under their pressure, the child may lose the power to think independently and tend to go astray. As parents, give your children the strength of mind so that they live life in their own right and not according to their friends.

Be a friend to your child

The first step is to maintain trust and open communication with your children so that they can talk to you about everything and anything without any fear. This way you would know the good and the bad influences in your child’s life. Also be flexible with them.

Guide him constantly

In growing age, children under peer pressure may think wearing certain clothes, taking risks, breaking rules is the way to command respect from people. Share experiences from your and the life of others with your children so that they understand what it takes to become great.

Don’t control your child

One of the most important kinds of peer pressure is being teased for being “mama’s or papa’s boy.” Don’t issue instructions, act over protective or tell your children not to do something because they are incapable of it. Let them feel that they are in control of their life and are just seeking your guidance.

Boost his self-esteem

Be a source of encouragement for your child where you keep appreciating and identifying your child’s qualities. Express your faith in them rather than doubt their every move. This way they’ll not depend solely on their friends for love and acceptance.

Give him decision-making power

Infuse so much self-confidence in your child that others do not influence them. Let them decide what is wrong and what is right for them. Guide but never impose your decisions and allow your child to learn from his mistakes.

This article appeared in Hindustan Times

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