Friday, December 7, 2012

The big 'N' word...are we saying it enough?

The below article is published online at:

“Last year we were really having a gala time on a cruise until one fine day Shrey spotted another similar aged boy with a battery operated toy truck. This instantly led him to demand a similar piece straightaway. I had a hard time dealing with his tantrums and unreasonable behaviour during the rest of our vacation. As soon as we landed back home, the first thing I did was to fetch him an exactly similar model to make him smile again. I know I didn’t handle the situation properly but I hate to say ‘no to my only son; I always fear that by doing so he will love me less.” Says Vruddhi, a single mother to eight year old Shrey.

“Few days back, during a Diwali party at our place, one of my guests’ five years old son caught hold of my expensive smartphone and dunked it in the toilet bowl just for fun.  I caught him red handed and handed over the matter to his parents. I was extremely disturbed when they didn’t even confront the little boy. In fact, right in front of him, they offered to replace my handset. Considering they chose not to humiliate their son in front of other guests, at least asking a boy to apologise would have helped to send him a strong message that whatever he did wasn’t ethical. I doubt if the parents will ever lay a strong foundation for his life ahead.” Sunidhi recollects.

“This Christmas, I want to gift a smartphone to my son. He is a gadget freak and already owns number of high-tech video games along with his own laptop. I want to see him happy all the time and enjoy the luxuries of life that I didn’t. I want him to have a childhood far better than I did. And I will do whatever it takes to make sure that he gets whatever he wishes for.” Amit , father of eight years old son, states.

Vruddhi and Amit are top-notch executives in multinational companies. They have strived hard and earned for whatever they have achieved until now and continue to do so for providing a better future to their children. They both realise the value of hardship and the happiness and contentment it brings along. And in spite of having such affluent careers, it’s an agony to see them fail to instil the right values in their kids.

Such parents usually feel that their children will love them less if they say ‘No’ too often to their demands, whims and fancies. This results in giving in to the child’s every demand, however unreasonable that it. Comparing your own childhood with your child’s is highly juvenile and should strictly be avoided to be used as an excuse to give up. This is a definite way of spoiling your child, if not anything else. Instead of agreeing to them instantaneously, it’s always advised to find a mid-way. Having a friendly chat with your child will help you understand his intents better. Ask certain specific questions like what he wants, where did he spot it first and why does he want it? This will help you understand your child and if his demand is justified then let him know your own reasons why you would agree to it.  If this involves a cost factor, let your child know about its value, if he is old enough to understand. This is also a good opportunity to make him behave in a certain way before he finally gets what he desires.

Sometimes, parents expect their children to understand that their behaviour is totally unacceptable by saying ‘no’ to them. However, more than the word itself, it’s important the way you say it. Similarly, there are other non-verbal cues of passing the right message like a positive body language. It may also be noted that very young children might not respond to the ‘N’ word in a desired manner due to the amount of attention they get when they do something wrong.

Now here’s the twist! Though you should avoid satisfying your child’s demands promptly, it’s also isn't prudent to refuse him each time he asks for anything as this will be a hindrance in building up on his self-confidence. It can also prove beneficial to ask your child to earn whatever he wants in some ways. “Every time Siya demands anything which if I feel is reasonable, instead of giving up to her demands easily, I ask to earn it within her capacity. Small gestures like helping me prepare the dinner table or carrying small grocery bags makes her feel she is working hard towards achieving what she wants. And the joy on her face when she gets what she earned is simply spectacular. In a way, I am happy, too because I don’t want her to feel that it’s an easy life and everything is freely available at the fingertips.” Says Vandana, mother of six years old Siya.

When Manoj Sharma, engineer, has to refuse the demands of his five year old daughter Paridhi, he always makes it to explain to her the reasons behind it. “Though Paridhi is still quite young, I always give her apt reasons whenever I decline to honour what she desires. This has two advantages. She grows up learning that there’s always a purpose for my decision and secondly, this exercise helps polish her reasoning skills and also makes her understand that I don’t say no without a reason.”

Sunidhi’s case is no different. She is totally distressed by the way the boy’s parents handled the situation. Teaching the basic manners to kids at tender age will help them understand the intensity of the situation. Five years is quite a young age for the boy to appreciate the value of forty thousand rupees but having to say ‘sorry’ to someone would have definitely made him realise that he has done something drastically wrong. Sorry, thank you and please are very robust words and kids can correlate with them, if encouraged at an early age. When Sunidhi was offered another phone in lieu of the damaged one by the boy’s parents, in front of him, unknowingly they sent a wrong message that it’s ok to damage things as far as they can be replaced.

Although we believe that parenting is highly nourishing, let’s also face that it comes with its own concerns. Disciplining the child is the worst nightmare. Lack of discipline is a consistent issue that most parents face these days. Many parents associate the word ‘discipline’ with abusing or unreasonably punishing the kids. However, discipline comes from the root word ‘Disciple’ which means to teach or to guide. Hence, it’s extremely important that we guide our children towards optimistic behaviour thus helping them develop a healthy and positive attitude towards life.

So, next time when your child just refuses to move without that candy floss in the middle of the road……….think! Think about how best you can make her realise that food available at road-side can harm her delicate tummy rather than plainly giving up to her unhealthy demand.

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