Blog Parenting

Who is to blame?

childcareRecently I was listening to a conversation between two mothers. It sounded all too familiar. Both of them spared no stone unturned in pouring out their frustrations in dealing with their respective 7 to 8 year old children.

Mother A: Until I show him cartoon on TV, not a morsel of food will enter Hrishikesh’s mouth. He is such a troublesome eater. Not a single day has he eaten without getting a scolding or even a beating from me. Look, look, how innocent he is acting now! [Hrishikesh looking towards his mother and keenly listening to her conversation]

Mother B: Oh, don’t tell me about it Shanta. My boy is no less. Its not only in eating, but also in making him do his homework, waking him up in the morning to go to school. These days he is pestering us to buy him some video game that all his classmates have. My mother says raising her three kids was a breeze as compared to raising this one child. She calls him ‘chota shaitan,’ isn’t it Rohan! [Rohan runs amok in the courtyard screaming, ‘I am chota shaitan….I am chota shaitan.’]

Both the mothers had a good laugh. The conversation went on and each of their child’s not-so-glorious qualities was discussed and then their helplessness in the matter shared. Then they moved on to the glories of children of their own generation and worried about what is in store for mothers of the future and soon they realized that it was time for them to depart. So, they did.

My dear readers, it is the general habit of a mother to complain about her child’s non-cooperative behavior. But if one has the best interest of the child, she will realize that it is the worst thing she can do to cure it, especially to discuss your child’s negative behavior and tendencies in the presence of the child. When the child hears conversations after conversations of his own negative behavior, it has a reinforcement effect. The tendency is to discuss negative behavior most not only with one friend but with as many as we talk to- with other family members such as the husband, parents and in-laws and neighbors too. The child listens to it and absorbs it all the time and it also does not help in building a healthy relationship with your child.

Now, try this exercise. Put your own self in place of the child and imagine someone else (maybe your parent) project you as non-cooperative, disobedient etc and that they are fed up with you. They discuss you negatively in their conversations with family members, friends and neighbors. How will you feel at about it? What happens to your self-esteem? Will feelings of injustice and resentment stir inside you?

As parents, our foremost duty is to think of our child as a human being with feelings and emotions and secondly every action of ours has a deep and indelible impact on the child at every stage of his life. How careful we must be in handling the child!

A child is a god given gift to learn about your own shortcomings and fill those gaps. Parenting is an art. We, the parents, are the sculptors and the child is the sculpture. If we handle the sculpture roughly, the sculpture might break. If we donot chisel it carefully, it might look ugly. So, how we want the sculpture to turn out, is in our hands. We cannot blame to sculpture to have turned ugly on its own, can we?

It is never too late to bring about changes in your child’s behavior.

  1. Change your attitude towards your child – stop complaining about your child to all and sundry. If you ever want to do it, do it in private either with your spouse or a close friend with the purpose of finding a positive solution. If you are simply pouring it out to someone, you are wasting your time and spreading negative energy.
  2. Own the child’s responsibility with maturity – check if you respond to the child or you react to the child. Are you able to remain calm and steady and seek a positive solution or are unable to check your own anger. Do you handle the child and his unending demands patiently or are quick to show impatience?
  3. Bring in your creativity to solve a persistent problem- Eg: The child gives you a hard time to eat his dinner. Change the feeding pattern. Try to include the child (as young as 2 yr old can be included) into preparing the meal and proudly announce to all family members that your child has cooked something delicious today. Lighten up your mood for dinner and narrate a funny story to the child as you feed the child. Or play hide and seek (at the table) or invent a game that interests the child. Make mealtime interesting and not a session where the child gets a mouthful from you every time he has to gulp down a mouth full. Become a creative problem solver.
  4. Positively reinforce the child: When we speak positively of the child, the child is encouraged to behave positively. Do make it a point to share the good deed of your child with your spouse or your other family members. Eg: when the child completes his homework, tell him you are proud of him. Tell others about it.
  5. Accept your child with love: Accepting your child doesn’t mean you accept his negative behavior or agree with all of his choices. It does mean that you accept him at a basic level of being human– with his own feelings, flaws and struggles.
Blog Parenting

Dealing with your Child’s ‘Bad’ Behavior

Child Bad behavior“Seeing other people in terms of their desires rather than your own is the basic principle of loving them.”—Radhanath Swami.  

As we discussed previously, a child is a product of the environment that he or she grows in. In the formative years, the child learns everything by imitating others around. In this way, the basic skills of walking, talking, smiling, etc. are learnt. Later, more advanced skills such as putting on dress, taking a bath, reading, writing, speaking gently or harshly, etc. are learnt from people around.

So, whatever a young child knows, he or she knows it from the family. Parents are the biggest influencers of a child’s personality and character. So, when a child is doing something out of bounds, the parents have to take time to analyze their own behavioral patterns and the kind of environment they have provided their child.

What Does Your Child Need?

A child seeks two things- love and attention. So, this is the biggest quadrant that parents need to invest in. Love, as in most cases, is an action oriented word. A child, till he or she gets into puberty, perceives parental warmth physically. Parents must, therefore, add in lots of physical acts of love such as holding the child in one’s lap, cuddling, hugging and talking sweetly to the child etc.

Girls and boys act and react differently. While girl children may run up to their parents to seek such warmth, boys after they cross 5 years of age seldom run up to their parents for such warmth although they need it. The general tendency of parents, to mistake their child to be a grown up boy who might not need so much of physical affection, must be avoided.  Especially the father has to shower a lot of physical affection on his young boy. Add in this component if it has gone missing in your family; you will solve a great deal of issue with your child, including insecurities that are bound to creep in when the child does not get positive touches(physical) from the parents. These insecurities fester into social problems later in adulthood.

The second thing the child looks for from parents is attention. An infant acts coy and cute and attracts the attention of many people and the family showers the child with attention. But as the child grows up, while it still needs attention, most parents get busy with other chores and seemingly have little or no time for the child. A growing up child needs undivided positive attention up to the age of 5 and thereafter regulated time with the child every day. Note that this is not the time you spend with the child to get the homework done! Spend time with the child reading a story for him or her, or go cycling with the child, cook together something special for the child or simply play with the child.

Why Do Children Misbehave?

When the child does not get this kind of positive attention, it brings it into an incompatible situation where his or her need is unfulfilled. In such a position, the child tries various ways to get attention of the parents and what catches their attention unfortunately is when the child behaves negatively. So, the child concludes that he or she has to behave like this to get the attention of the parents. This spins off a saga of ‘so-called’ bad behavior on part of the child and reactive or abusive parental behavior. The child is gradually branded for this kind of bad behavior.

What To Do When Your Child Misbehaves?

Take heart parents! No parent is proud of such a situation in their life. But the good news is that child behavior can be changed with patience and love. This is the beauty of being a child. A child only wants love and positive attention. So, the moment you realize that you have driven the child to seek negative attention, you can break the cycle and create new and positive impressions for the child. Here are few things you can adopt to make that alteration-

  1. When the child is angry or behaving badly or throwing a tantrum, walk upto the child and in the most genuine and understanding way hug the child and rub his back. Nothing works to disarm the child like physical affection. In matter of minutes, the child will calm down.
  2. When the child is angry or not obeying you, the child wants to tell you that he/she needs to be understood or heard out first. So, take time to listen to what the child has to say. Tell the child that you understand that he/she is angry.
  3. Be careful to be controlled in your own state of mind. You cannot get angry. Have a stable core when you have to deal with your child’s temperamental behavior. The child draws his/her energies from your core. So, when you have a peaceful inside, the child will draw from that peace and soon reflect that energy.

Giving positive attention does not mean succumbing to every material demand of the child.  By defining the boundaries for the child, the child, over a period of time understands what is a legitimate demand and what is an illegitimate demand. So, stay firm on the boundaries that you draw for the child.

Remember to fill the child’s world with positive impressions from where he can draw upon in times of need. Building the child’s account with positive impressions helps the child obey you in times of your need.

Next, we will learn to say ‘no’ to a child and get the child to understand what it means.

– Mrs. Preethi Dhiman
…Read Articles in preethi’s Blog

Blog Parenting

My child does not listen to me!

childA child learns through imitation till the age of 7, reflecting the actions, language, culture et al of parents and immediate family. For example, if a child is born in a family that prays before meals, the child too learns the same; if there are loving exchanges among the family members, the child learns how to exchange love with others; if the members of the household pick up fights with each other, the child learns to fend for himself or herself through fights. Therefore, the home environment is the primary source of learning in these formative years.

So, when we deal with our child’s problem, more than correcting the child’s behavior, we have to first look at what the environment is. As parents, we have to closely look at our thoughts, our actions and our outlook in life, which the child is closely observing and absorbing every second of the day, before we can conclude where the problem is.

Let’s look at what are the needs of a child. A child needs two primary things from parents: love and attention.

A child naturally seeks love from the parents. Love is the basic need, not only of a child but of human beings at large. What it means for a child is not that you buy the next toy demanded, but that the child needs to know you really care. It could be that you set aside some time that you will spend with the child, like playing with the child every day, reading a bedtime story, cooking meal that the child likes with the child on your side etc.; basically, spending some time exclusively with your child. You can figure out how your child wants you to spend time with him or her in specific, and make it happen for the child. Mind you, the child looks for attention from both the parents, so both have to put in that effort. The child has the intelligence to perceive how much effort you put to take your precious time out to spend with the child and the child will value it. When the child values you, the child will listen to you and make an attempt to understand what you are saying.

Love also means a lot of physical closeness with the child – hugging, kissing, cuddling, snuggling etc. from both the parents. You might think your 10 year old is a grown up boy now and might have weaned out of physical affection of the parents. That is unfortunately not the truth. Every child (unless there is a medical condition needing therapy or intervention) needs physical affection of the parents. It reassures the child and builds his or her sense of security. And only the parents can give this through their affection and attention.

A child seeks parents’ attention as it is his or her birthright and when the parents get busy with other priorities in their life, the attention seeking child resorts to negative tactics to gain the attention of the parents—crying, bawling, breaking things, not listening to instructions, nagging and even anti-social behavior, the list is a long one! When this happens, repairing the situation means to really take a deeper look at your priorities in life and see how you can make changes in your lifestyle to accommodate the needs of the child.

Upbringing of your child is an art and a long term investment of time and effort. There are no shortcuts to it. Recently, one of our family friends applied for one year leave to take care of his new born child. This is his second child. He had previously quit his job to take care of his 1st born child as well. He wants to invest time and effort in bringing up his children in the most loving environment and that is the secret of getting your child’s attention.

As parents, you have the prerogative to create a healthy environment for your child so your child has the opportunity to blossom under your loving care.

In the next few articles, we will discuss how your listening skills can affect the child and what undivided attention really means; when to say ‘no’ to your child and how to say it; and how to create a nurturing environment of love and care for your child.


– Mrs. Preethi Dhiman

…Read Articles in preethi’s Blog