Parents, Become the Enablers of Positive
Shruthi Bhandary Chodankar
As a counselling psychologist, I have encountered many children who avail of counselling for various reasons. Some children are not scholastically inclined and have trouble catching up with the rest of the class. Others have anxiety and anger issues. Victims of bullying and children with behavioural problems come to seek counselling. Children with suicidal thoughts, who cannot speak to anybody else of their fears and sadness see a counsellor as confidant. A few children even confess about problems in their relationships with family as well as friends (as commonly observed in students of Std VIII, IX and X).
Recently, I found an emotional love letter with a child who is in Std V. Disconcerting as it may be, who is to take responsibility for this sort of behaviour in such young children? It is easy to begin blaming the media and technology, but it must be accepted that many of our young children go astray due to the wrong approach of the parents to handling their children.
Here is some advice parents would do well to heed:
1. Teaching children to be giving and unselfish is an essential building block to character formation. We could directly influence our children by telling them not to share a special treat with anyone else or through our own display of ungenerous behaviour.
2. Inculcate in them respect for every person, irrespective of caste, class, creed, age, etc.
3. With so many sexual abuse cases in the news, we need to be very careful about the safety of our young and impressionable children. They need to be taught the difference between good touch and bad touch. Children must be made to feel confident enough to inform parents if they are ever uncomfortable with someone. Parents should give a listening ear without judgement no matter how trivial the matter may seem. We can save our children from abusive situations just by reassuring our children that we believe them.
4. Parents should share their struggles and failures or successes with their children. It is only then that children will understand the hard work their parents put in. It will also give them the chance to realise that it is alright to fail and that they will have another chance so long as they are willing to improve themselves.
5. Never offer solutions to every problem. Sometimes a child knows what is to be done. The child may just need someone to listen to them. If we make a habit of giving suggestions and solutions in every situation, the child will never start thinking for him or herself and will always be dependent on the parent. Finding the answers on their own builds children’s self-confidence.
6. When a child informs the parent of something, the parent should not express doubt as to whether he or she is speaking the truth. The child will shy away from opening up and establishing a positive relationship with the parent.
7. Comparison is a major problem in our society. When some children do not do well in studies, parents tend to demean them by comparing their academic performance with the neighbours’ children or siblings or their friends. A child should be given help in their studies as well as be motivated in whatever the child is good at. If the child does not get proper love and attention from parents, they try to seek attention and very often end up going against social norms.
8. If children make a mistake, they should be directed to focus on the consequences of whatever they have done. They should experience life on their own terms as that is how they will learn. Be their guiding light but do not dissuade them from testing the waters.
Their emotions should be the focus of attention instead their material needs. What is most important is always to love them the way you loved them when they were born. Respect their feelings, accept them the way they are and be their friend in all circumstances.