No matter its approach, the underlying philosophy of parenting is to assure the best for a child. A parent is a nurturer, guide and protector of the child and wishes to see them healthy and successful in life. The child’s physical health, mental and emotional well-being, behavioural patterns and development through different stages greatly depends on the parenting.
The challenges faced by the parents, their behaviour, their circumstances, all leave a lasting impact on the child. In fact, adverse childhood experiences, like witnessing abuse or violence, neglect at home, mental health problems, family turmoil or emotional distress takes a toll on a child at a much deeper level than what meets the eye.
There is no sure-shot method of parenting as every parent and child are unique. Instead of choosing between authoritative, permissive, progressive, uninvolved, fear-based or positive parenting styles, I highly recommend conscious parenting that enables one to be more aware as a parent and also be mindful of what is the situation. Conscious parenting is more about the parent than the child; it isn’t about ‘fixing’ the child but about enabling them to develop and thrive using different methods. Chandni Tugnait, a psychotherapist, coach and the founder-director of Gateway of Healing, shares some tips on Parent’s Day.
It is essential to build a connection with the child through engagement, listening, spending time together, expressing love, sharing and holding the space for them while fostering empathy, self-control, self-reliance, curiosity and compassion. Listen to all the little things your child shares with focus and love else one day the child won’t share the big things.
Be a good role model
Instead of telling the child to do something, show them. Children observe and imitate what they see. If you don’t want them to do certain things, don’t do them yourself too. The same is applicable when you lay down some rules or concepts for them. Make sure you follow those rules too or have a good reason for why you are excluded. Your child may not always be listening to you, but is always ‘watching’ you. Walk the talk!
Process your emotions
Most people either repress or impulsively express their emotions. It is important for us to process our emotions constructively so as to avoid arguments, fights, yelling, sulking, etc. with or around the children. Model healthy behaviour and exhibit emotional intelligence in front of the kids.
Offer healthy choices and then let them be
It is important for you to remember that children have infinite resources and motivation at their disposal and hence you shouldn’t try to tie them down with your version of reality. Offer them healthy choices and then let them be. This helps in raising self-aware and confident children who aren’t constantly looking for approval from others and who have a deeper understanding of their choices and consequences that stem from them.
Fear-based parenting yields results at the cost of a distorted mindset and limiting beliefs in the child. Setting clear, concise, consistent and compassionate boundaries, on the other hand, help in raising children who feel more secure when they choose to be authentic.
Listen to ‘connect’ and not to ‘control’
Whether it is difficult unwarranted behaviour or erratic emotions, listen to the child in order to connect, understand and to hold the space for them by being present. Listening to the child and then bombarding them with forced suggestions, orders, ‘right & wrong’ judgements, sarcasm or scolding and exerting control, lead to a disconnection and the child begins to hide their true feelings and thoughts. This can cause fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, blame, anger, sadness, frustration, impatience and insensitivity in the child as well.
Be mindful of your language
Your language, tone and pitch along with the non-verbal cues, influence the child’s response and behaviour. Be mindful of the language you use. Is your language respectful, encouraging, uplifting and compassionate?
Be kind to yourself
Give yourself credit for doing the best you can instead of criticising, judging and complaining. Indulge in self-care to keep your mind rejuvenated. Choose non-punitive methods and focus on the big picture — enabling your children to be responsible, independent, productive, grateful, compassionate, consistent, authentic, respectful, caring and leading a healthy and fulfilling life.
While parenting may have its fair share of challenges, it can be extremely rewarding. Use what works for you and your child and drop all the judgments. In case, there are areas where you can do better, focus on those and give it your best.