As I first time parent I was clueless on most occasions. I was forever confused whether I am handling the situation in a correct way or not. Understanding the needs and what is going on in the mind of a child is a humongous task. A behavior displayed by our child might irritate or annoy us but we need to understand things from a child’s perspective.
Playing the dual role of a mother and teacher helped me in gaining insight into the psyche of children. I have a better understanding now regarding how to handle these child centric issues. My experience might help others too. Parenting is, after all, a lifelong learning process. We can also grow with our child. Every stage has its own challenges, let us try and understand the general behavioural traits displayed by young children and how parents can handle them.
Following are some situations that often occur in our lives:
- Children enjoy repetition– My husband was bogged down by the same request from my son every day- ‘’ Daddy let us make a parking place for my cars’’. Most of the girls never get tired of playing with dolls and similarly boys can be seen jostling with different cars and superheroes. Why do children love to listen to same stories and play the same game again and again? It is because they are trying to understand cause and effect, and establish relationships. Repetition helps in sequencing their thoughts and in understanding a concept. This might get tedious for parents so they tend to discourage the child, but repetition is very important for their mental growth.
- Avoid hovering around and being a helicopter parent- In our love and affection for our children we tend to hover around the child controlling every small action. While it is important to take care of security of your child, it is equally important to understand that children learn best in unhindered natural surroundings.They must be given the freedom to explore and make choices. It is not a good idea to form a transparent shield around your child and filter bad people/ situations out of his life. We should not just give good things as choices to our child. Selecting good things out of bad will help improve their discretionary power. Ultimately they have to face the world and real life situations, which might be either good or bad.
- Never encourage your child to hit back- . I have seen parents and grandparents who proudly display their child’s ‘paying back in the same coin’ attitude. Family members encourage the child to hit back another child and unknowingly inculcate vindictive and aggressive attitude. This approach confuses the child, making it difficult for him to differentiate between good and bad behaviour. They resort to hitting whenever they are unhappy with anything and it becomes a way to express their emotions. Some children even start hitting their parents or close family members.
When they face a situation where other child hits them, a better way to resolve it is to first listen to the child patiently. Then teach him the simple golden rules, “Please stop. I don’t like it.” The child can also share the incident immediately with the class teacher or an elder who will find an amicable solution.
- Draw out emotions. In our mechanical lives, we have turned gadget freaks, missing out on emotions in our lives. Encourage the child to express himself in order to develop his emotional quotient. Make it a habit to talk about a good thing and a bad thing that happened to you during the day. Eventually the child will also start sharing the events which happened to him during the entire day. Bedtime is the best time to discuss these things. An expression of love gives them a reassurance that we are there always. This ‘talking’ habit goes a long way and helps in building a lasting bond with your child.
- Boosting imagination through constructive playtime- Most of us live in a nuclear family which limits the interaction of child only with the parents, siblings or nanny. It is a good idea to encourage play dates and interaction with other children to enhance the social skills of a child. Open-ended toys (like colourful stones of different shapes, waste paper cut into different shapes, empty matchboxes/ice cream sticks) lead to unstructured play which develop imaginative skills. Children also take pride in creating new things.
- Appreciate and reward good behaviour. We are very prompt at pointing out to the mistakes and misbehavior of children. Are we so quick at appreciating them too? A warm hug or a small tattoo can do wonders to encourage children. Appreciation and acknowledgement must be honest and sincere. While appreciation boosts the self esteem of child, over appreciation can lead to false belief about themselves.
- Using magic words ‘please, sorry and thank you’– Parents are the best role models for their children. Rather than teaching them to use these words, we should use them ourselves. The usage of these terms makes children empathetic towards others.
- Children love to lie- Most of the parents are shocked when they see their child lying. But you will be surprised to know that lying is a natural instinct in children. Children are born explorers and they enjoy discovering and experimenting new things. At times what is a lie for us may be real for them as they live in a fantasy world. Children are not aware of social norms and moral values. First and foremost thing to do is don’t get upset if your child is lying. Do not reprimand the child. Introduce the concept of honesty gradually and through gentle reminders.
Children are very impressionable in their early developmental years. They naturally pick up things from their surroundings and imitate actions of family members. So we should try to give them a happy and positive environment which is conducive for their growth. A little understanding of their psyche can make things smoother for parents too.
You can also read easy tips to be good parents
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