Being a mother of two, parenting is one of my favorite subjects. I learn a lot every single day through my experiences with a six and a nine-year old. I make mistakes, then make amendments, fail again, try something different and learn something completely new that works. These are some basic rules to be kept in mind while handling your toddlers.
1. Spare the rod and teach the child
Hitting the child may help in disciplining the child for a short time, but it sends out a very wrong message to them. Giving logical explanations on why something should not be done, or on why something must be done only in a certain manner, helps them much more than the fear of getting scolded or beaten up. They’ll also respect you for not trying to suppress their individuality.
2. You liar!
If you lie in front of your child, can you expect them not to lie in the future? And in the future they’ll resort to lies rather than taking the way of truth. They’re now all grown up to understand what’s right and what’s wrong. So preaching ‘Honesty is the best policy’ and practicing the opposite in front of them only makes them distrust you.
3. Right to privacy
Sharing your child’s success is every parent’s wish. They feel proud about it. Discussing our child’s mistakes with others is our means of learning from the other person’s experience or suggestions. But as your child grows he/she starts demanding privacy. It is their right. Good or bad. Do not criticize them in front of others. It might not go well with them.
4. Stop yelling!
If only we could practice what we preach. This is one area I’m still working on. But I must say I have improved a lot. They learn to be defensive and retaliate when we yell at them. It makes them believe that attack is the best defence. Try other methods like grading their performance over the week and rewarding them for good performance.
5. Be the role model
It is your words, actions and image that the child wants to imitate. Be it a mother or a father, the child picks traits from the surroundings. Be your best. Project what you want them to be.
6. Respect has to be commanded, not demanded
Treat them with respect and they will follow. Respect their choices and their freedom of speech and expression. Only then can you expect them to heed to your guidance.
7. Get into their shoes
That’s the only way you can understand them better. No child is bad. There is always a reason behind every action of theirs. Find out by going down to their level and helping them open up. You might be able to save them from becoming a failure or a bully.
8. Discipline but don’t frighten
It means ‘instruction’ and ‘knowledge’. It never means to train or punish. The purpose of discipline is not to scare the child or vent out your anger. The purpose is to teach them to learn to differentiate right from wrong and good from bad. We are not breeding horses for the race. Are we?
9. Control your temper
It is easy to get angry, but equally difficult to get your point to the other person. When you are speaking or acting in anger, the child gets distracted and scared. The point that you wanted to focus on just vanishes.
10. Acceptance is key
Let the child know that you’re there to correct them or guide them when they are wrong. All they need to do is to come and confess. This will help you gain their trust and make them more willing to take the initiative and come and confide in you.
11. Study their behaviour
Children exhibit behavioural changes if their emotions are hurt, or if they are under any kind of stress. Look for clues. Make them feel comfortable and protected. Talk to them. Together you both can handle every situation sensibly.
12. Do not ignore
Young minds are innocent and carefree. They might be blabbering now and then. Sometimes in their sleep. Or while sitting on the pot. Or while playing by themselves. Do not ignore. The key lies in picking up references that will help you understand them and their situations better.
13. Relate with anecdotes
Who doesn’t love stories! Especially those from your childhood. They remain etched in memories. The lessons imparted through these stories have a long-time effect on their personality. Share stories from your own childhood relating to a certain situation in your child’s life. They’ll surely learn better.
14. Guide them with books
Books are man’s best friend. They help you see a situation from different perspectives. And reading makes them concentrate, be attentive and improves their vocabulary.
15. Don’t be repetitive
Who loves unsolicited advice? Nobody. Isn’t it? Try to keep your sermons short and sweet. Do not keep repeating. It makes them feel that you distrust them. It makes them lose confidence in themselves. It hurts their self-respect.
16. Let the emotions flow
Be real. There will be times when nothing helps. Your child needs to vent out too. Let them be. Just support them. Cooperate with them. Eventually the tantrums will lose power and will eventually cease.
17. Keep your frustration under check
Do not accept defeat. The key to success lies in remaining under control. If your child is pushing you to extremes, try to remain cool. Take a break. Go for a walk. Do some grocery shopping. Talk to a friend. Just distract yourself. Do whatever but do not give in to your emotions.
18. Do not be a drone parent
Let the child know that you’ll not support their mistakes and they have to learn to own their mistakes and apologise. Protecting them from failures will not make them ready to handle conflicts, struggle and consequences in future.
19. Encourage but do not praise
Praise them once in a while for their actions. Let it not get to their head. Reward them occasionally. But do not bribe. Do not give them a perception that they are perfect. That’ll close doors for further scope of improvement.
20. Do not compare
Focus on individual strength. Set reasonable expectations based on their personalities. Tell them they are unique in their own ways.
21. Give them a real picture
Don’t hide the negative stories. Negative instances can help them learn to stick together in bad times and sail through adversity. As they grow they need to be made aware of the realities of life.
No two children are the same even if they are born to the same parents. Thus parenting differs from parent to parent and child to child. What works for me, may not work for you. But sharing experiences helps us learn from each other’s success and failures.