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I have regularly sought the help of Counselors when I am faced with an issue with the children or even otherwise. I think speaking to a professional and a trained person helps you bounce off ideas and lets you understand the dynamics of parenting and relationships better. I am not a qualified professional and whatever I have learned has been through my experiences and observations in relationships along with sharing of thoughts and experiences of those close to me. As parents of young kids, we are always stressed and hard pressed for time. There are 10000 different things to do in a day, and then the child throws tantrums or just makes life more difficult. It is natural for us already tired and stressed selves to hit out at the child. But, all the yelling and threatening does not seem to have much effect, does it? All it does is it helps us vent our frustration and momentarily makes us feel okay. But the solution to the problem is far away. It becomes a vicious cycle, and the child takes a turn for the worse because the root cause of the problem is not addressed.
This is where I have personally benefited from both reading articles as well as talking to a professional Counselor especially this lady who has the credentials and the skill to boot. When I spoke to her over the phone, she told me that despite what we may think, the problem is always with the approach of parents than the child per se. The child is often grappling with an issue that the parent is unable to comprehend. The parent is only thinking from their own perspective not from that of a child. And trust me, even with a5-year-old one can have powerful conversations if one has invested the time in building trust and strengthening communication lines with the child. One thing that I’ve known for long and that she reiterated is that parents have the crucial responsibility of molding a young child. A child will imbibe the behavior a parent exhibits, and you will see it manifested in the child’s own behavior when he is an adult. And, it is very difficult to correct bad behavior patterns or wrong habits then. What is desirable is to nip such behavior in the childhood when we still can. This places a powerful responsibility on the shoulders of all parents.
She also said that empathyand firmness are two very important attributes in parenting. Empathy means going down to the level of the child and thinking from his perspective and why he does what he does. Sympathy is feeling for someone, and empathy is feeling with someone. Not being judgmental but just understanding what the other person is going through. And every action and every tantrum will fit into a behavior pattern. Firmness or assertion is equally important. Parents find it very hard to do that. Firmness or assertiveness is not equated to anger in any way. Firmness means that you are serious about saying and enforcing something without demeaning the other person or yelling at them. Discipline is very important for children. Without discipline there is no structure, and the child just drifts along without understanding the importance of rules and adherence to them. Parenting is not about pampering and giving in all the time. Parenting is about striking a balance.
I had a lovely positive chat with her, and she reinforced for me that yelling will take me nowhere. Some of the things like positive reinforcements, timeouts etc. I do personally. Yet I lose my temper. I am not awfully proud of that. I must tell you an incident that happened yesterday. I went to play Table Tennis with both my sons. Now, the younger one is still learning. We decided that the elder one will play first with me and then the younger one will take turns. But Gautam started throwing a huge tantrum, screaming and yelling, kicking the table – the works. Well, we tried to calm him. He was being obnoxious but to my credit :)I kept calm. I brought him home – he came kicking, yelling and crying all the way. I did not react. I left him at home, told him that I refused to play with him because he misbehaved. Then I came out with Sid. We played a couple of games and came home. I again asked Gautam who was calm by now if he wanted to play. I made it clear that I will bring him back home if he whined, yelled or cried. He nodded. You would not believe that he was well behaved and actually played pretty well, and then waited for his brother’s turn to get over. So well, the approach of being calm and collected works best with kids even when they are at their worst. And, if it does not work for the first time, it will work the second time or the third time. Consistency is the key.
Yes, he will throw a tantrum again, but if I deal with it correctly, I am sure very soon he will really understand what the correct behavior is. In a way, yes it can be said that a bad behavior in a child is a failing of a parent who might not understand the cause of it. It is not easy for me to stay calm especially under such trying circumstances, but I know in my heart that it is the right thing to do. And, I will keep trying to do the right thing.
I am just sharing this wisdom with all my blogger friends. Try it with your friends, colleagues and kids. If you are calm and don’t overreact, you will find the aggressive party slowly losing steam. And, it will definitely help with the children. I am going to make the effort to do it as much as possible. I hope you can try too.
But, I can only delve deep into this reserve of calm and patience if I am at peace and tension free. Now that is not my state of mind most of the time, but I can make it better. Reduction of stress at the level of parents can be achieved by being aware, by being better organized so that deadlines and tensions don’t make you edgy, and by seeking help when you are really at your wits’ end. I have always maintained that Counseling is very healthy. It is also important that one goes for Counseling with the intent to listen, understand and bring about change. I have noticed that change can only come from within when you convince yourself that the need for change is real. Often among Indians, we do not turn to Counseling considering it useless or having negative connotations. On the contrary, it may make the difference to your relationships when you are struggling.
I am not under any illusion that I can always be calm and collected. But, with the awareness, I will endeavor to be a better human being and a better parent.
PS On a different note, I had submitted a story idea for Indiblogger Harper Collins Get Published that stems from my own story:
Here is the link, do vote for it if you like it:
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