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Best tips on parenting - Part 2

Parenting is not about controlling with a stern hand. Parenting is about guiding your child through different phases. It is about allowing the child to learn through experience. Let's see how to be a good parent.

I will start off from where I had left, discipline is the key to good parenting. I don't believe or support the 'spare the rod and spoil the child'. Children do need to be disciplined but do not need to be caned to be disciplined. Discipling can be done through other holistic parenting methods.

It is never too early to discipline

'Just a child' – a common phrase used to cover up a child's actions. Whether a child is allowed to pull out and damage plants growing on public property or allowed to litter public area or allowed to do whatever he/she pleases – the argument that such behaviour can be allowed, just because the individual is a child, is a worthless argument.

Parents overlook their children's misbehaviour because they are misguided by the theory that the disorderly conduct can be ignored because it's a child. Good parenting calls for correcting the child's mistake then and there. Not through harsh words, but by making them understand that certain behaviour is not acceptable. Stop the child from doing wrong, when you notice unacceptable behaviour.

Children who are corrected and made to understand why their actions are wrong, learn from them. It is every parents' responsibility to inculcate good habits in children, and this practice must start young. You cannot begin correcting the child and expect a change after their behaviour becomes a habit.

Share your slipups and blunders

All of us have made our share of mistakes when growing up, and I think it is alright to share our experiences with young teens. Adolescence is a difficult age, when children begin to exercise their right of freedom. They want to blossom out, spread their wings and be their own person. But this is the age where children are also the most vulnerable. They feel that they are mature and that they are right, but don't we know that they are liable to make mistakes and get hurt.

Parents must let them make decisions, but that shouldn't prevent the adults from aiding the teens to navigate rough waters. Parents should share with their adolescent kids the mistakes they made and the lessons that they learnt from them. It teaches the teens to make wise choices.

By sharing your own experiences with teenaged kids you prepare them to face the consequences of their choices and actions. Remember you are not the only influence on your teenaged children, there is a whole world out there that is influencing them. But, you should provide the best stimulus to your teenagers so that it can impact their lives the most.

Don't confuse intelligence for maturity

Intellect, talent and acumen should not be mistaken for maturity. Intelligent children are often regarded as possessing higher maturity levels compared to their peers. They are kids for Pete's sake, they happen to be bright and gifted in specific areas, don't conclude that it pervades all aspects. Children's aptitude is not a measure of their maturity, so don't assume that your bright child is prepared to face the world.

There is no definite age where children can be defined as mature or trusted with major responsibilities, but a good thumb rule is to see other kids the same age as your child and observe the things that they are doing, independent of adult supervision. If they appear more independent than your child then maybe you should allow them a bit more freedom.

Practice what you preach

Parents are masters at moralizing and telling kids how to behave, but fail miserably, when it comes to practising what they preach. You advise your child to ride his/her bike carefully, but don't hesitate jumping traffic signals or riding on the wrong side of the road.

It is best that parents be role models for their children and lead by example. Things that we adults overlook can leave an impression on the young minds. That white lies you tell your boss, over the phone, doesn't go unnoticed – your kids will learn that is fine to lie and will start practising lying too.

Your influence on your kids can help shape their character. Be careful with the things you say and the language you use, for they are watching and imbibing. Be honest, be kind, be courteous, be respectful, be generous, be meticulous, be all the things that you want your child to be and they'll watch, learn and pick those qualities from you.

Answering some big questions

  • Why do parents fail to discipline children?
  • Are they guided by emotions?
  • Do they have no understanding of what good parenting is?
  • Why do parents fail to check their behaviour in time?

I think the crux of the problem is the failure on the parents' part to be judicious. They allow emotions to overshadow their true obligations as parents. They are oblivious to the damage that is being done, through them pampering their kids. The real problem is that many parents 'compensate' for the actions of their parents when it comes to raising their own children.

For example –
  • Parents who grew up in a strict disciplinary environment are more likely to be overindulgent towards their kids
  • Adults who think they were deprived of things in their growing-up years tend to surround their children with material things
  • Those who had a difficult childhood, make it easy for their own kids and give them all luxuries

It is a vicious cycle, parents don't want their children to experience the same hardships as they did. They want a better life for their children and this makes them focus on the present rather than the future.

The emphasis is on their children's happiness in the now, and not their preparedness for the morrow.

If we were to go back in time, when these adults were children and could peep into the atmosphere that surrounded them, we'll possibly understand them better. Their parents were perhaps focusing on the future, saving money for a rainy day, not spending, and looking at things as a waste of money. Maybe their circumstances left an indelible mark on them which makes them want to keep their children away from similar conditions. Pampering is a way of shielding kids from hardships that the adults faced. It provides gratification and a sense of achievement to the parents. And there is where the problem lies. Parents who focus on just the present, mean well, but unwittingly restrict their children's development.

Tips for moving away from negative behaviour

Introspection can help you get started if you want to change your parenting methods. The self-analysis will provide answers to the reasons behind your behaviour. You'll become conscious of things that you subconsciously do. Watch what you say and do, when you're interacting with your kids and ponder over your behaviour.

Why do you think it's alright to let them get away with being rude or mischievous? What stops you from correcting them? Take care of these little instances that come naturally to you, but which point to you being overindulgent. Aim to coach rather than pampering.

Here is what can be done -
  • Let your children take up new challenges and do stuff that pushes them and makes them work hard; and allow them to fail. Failures build character and help strengthen resolve
  • Discuss consequences of what can happen if they continue underperforming. Make them face reality and encourage them to give their best to whatever they do. Knowing that you trust and stand by them can boost their performance
  • Help them to recognise their abilities and strengths and allow them to use these to tackle real issues
  • Introduce them to activities that test their patience, so they can experience delayed gratification. It will teach them resilience and perseverance
  • Teach them about life and how there are choices and compromises to be made. Talk to them to make the right choices after much thought and deliberation, and not act in haste
  • Let them assume responsibilities around the house. Chores can be assigned to them, so they learn accountability
  • Introduce them to a variety of positive influences – books, movies and even people who can impact their lives
  • Help them dream big, envisage a bright and fulfilling tomorrow, and discuss how they can achieve their goals
  • Always love, support and encourage them in becoming their own person. Don't hold them back by doing everything for them. Get them ready for life – for the tomorrow that will be theirs

What steps do you take to ensure your children grow up to be smart and level-headed?

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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