Open up your mind and your potential reaches infinity…

Time and again we as parents talk of what are the secrets of raising our chidren to the best of our abilities and discover a” fool proof” way that they turn out to be super kids.
I have yet to see a set of parents who donot aspire their kids to do well. We all try our own mechanisms , within our means of understanding, in becoming the ideal parents.

When we bring a television, a camera or even a small cell phone we get with it the users manual to see what appropriate ways to use it and what is to be done to ”trouble shoot”.

However, when we bring in the beautiful machines called babies we donot bother to look up for its’ user’s manual simply because the baby doesnt come in with one. We, like other major issues in our life including religion, depend upon the hearsay of the seniors or others in dealing with these “bundles of joy”.

We use our ‘trial and error methods’ and then when things go wrong we blame–there are no rules for parenting. It all depends upon Allah and His will if our kids turn out to be good, not so good or even baad.
Although I did attempt to read a book on Positive Parenting while expecting my first child, I too am in NO way, any better than those parents who learn as they raise their kids. Learning as such is a life ling process but then there has to be a baseline to take off from. To my much dismay now, I probably took off as an illiterate when I embarked on the parenting path, 19 years ago. I feel ashemed of many silly and many serious follies I committed along the way. I wish I had even a fraction of enlightenment that I have now. Sorry, but it’s too late to cry over spilt milk. Not because I failed—certainly I did not— but because despite my follies my kids were smart enough to stay fairly on track.
Nor does it imply that I was an “all evil mom” but yes I did have my share of mistakes. It was only when my kids grew a bit older did I get to watch the serials like SUPER NANNY or read child psychology articles on the web . How I wish I had known that when my little committed made a blunder—instead of screaming or scolding I should have talked to her at her eye level without raising my voice. Also that when my son misbehaved—instead of giving him a scornful look and a nasty threat of police , I had put him on a naughty chair for the time appropriate for his age. And most of all instead of using TV with Cartoon Network as a baby sitter, I wish I had used some more useful methods to engage them.

I feel terrible at times of the rare, probably a couple of occaisions only, when I really slapped my kids hard for some really really serious reasons. I wish I had the control over me then, to deal with them with more restraint. I have even apologised to them for these acts time and again. But these kids are no saints—they are monsters in the garb of sons and daughters—they do forgive and forget at the moment but then use it as ” a tool ” whenever deemed necessary. I wish I had never given them a chance to use this” life line”.

I attended a lecture, sometime ago, by a philanthropist from Brampton, by the name of Baldev Mutta who deliverd an extremely enlightening lecture and that too based on scientific evidence and research about what makes kids great sailors and survivors in this bad mad sad world.

The rules he presented were mainly of common sense and indeed many a times made me wonder during the lecture—gosh! why didnt that click to me when I was raising my kids?

Baldev Mutta ji begins with saying:

Spend quality time with your kids.
A child’s self-esteem is greatly influenced by the quality of time we spend with them-not the amount of time that we spend. With our busy lives, we  often think about the next thing  we have to do, instead of putting a focused attention on what our child is saying to us. We often pretend to listen or ignore our child’s attempts to communicate with us. If we don’t give our child quality time , they will often start to misbehave. Negative attention in a child’s mind is better than being ignored.

It is also important to recognize that feelings are neither right nor wrong. They just are.

So when your child says to you, “Mommy, you never spend time with me” (even though you just played with her) she is expressing what she feels. It is best at these times just to validate her feelings by saying, “Yeah, I bet it does feel like a long time since we spent time together.”

So beautiful is the technical term given to quality time – Genuine encounter moments (GEM).

Give Children Appropriate Ways to Feel Powerful

If you don’t, they will find inappropriate ways to feel their power.
Ways to help them feel powerful and valuable are to ask their advice, give them choices, let them help you balance your check book, cook part of a meal, or help you shop. A two-year-old can wash plastic dishes, wash vegetables, or put silverware away. Often we do the job for them because we can do it with less hassle, but the result is they feel unimportant.

Unfortunately many of us desi parents love to keep our children emotionally and physically dependent on us. Not because we want it that way but because we fear losing them if they get independent.

Mr Mutta, to my utter shock, reinforced several times that the kids should be independent enough to make their own breakfast at the age of 12 and above. Many of us would shoo this as ridiculous stuff but believe me once I learnt this I took my hands off my kids morning stints and now they ‘re all independent.

I ’rest in peace’ while they get up, get ready in the early morning hours and fetch their own breakfast. At the oputset my heart thumped hard as I lay in bed overhearing the background noises of their activity in the kitchen, but now my soul gets rejuvenated each time I see them walking away from the kitchen with a self prepared breakfast. And that no more am I an indispensable entity.

Only if I attended Baldev’s lecture 5 years ago !!!

Create love for books in the child right from day 1:

Says Mr Mutta that research has proven that if the child is given a book right from the first days in the crib and then made to sleep each day after reading to them from a colorful attractive book—the child grows up with the love of reading books. And as the child loves to read he broadens his horizon, raises his intellect , aspires to acquire more and stays away from boredom related social ills like drugs, hooliganism, crime etc..
Every occaision should be used to give them books as presents. They last longer and impact far more than the plastic toys.

Teach the child to be empathetic towards the parents:
As parents especially as moms, we all have a Mother Teresa within ourselves. We donot want our kids to get even an iota of suffering in this world and in doing so we do more harm to them than we anticipate. We donot share our worries, our pains with them thinking they are kids.
Says Baldevji—if we are sick, we should act sick in front of the kids and teach them to care for us—by sitting beside us, accompanying along to the doctor and even share our social and economic problems with them so that they get to learn and realise that their parents are as human as others. We shouldnt attempt to fake ourselves as Godly or saintly figures in front of them who can provide them with panaceas to every problems or everything they ask for. If they learn to care for us from the early childhood then only will they care or feel for us in the later age.
Teach the child to share and do charity:

We often pamper our kids by telling them they’re special kids and all that is ours belongs to them. True it may be but we donot realise that this way we are grooming them as self centred egotists.
Baldev ji suggests that if you intend to do any charity or give any gift to anyone outside the immediate family—let your child do the giving act. This way they learn the art of sharing and giving.
Looks pretty common sense. I remember many a times I had to give some presents to other kid’s on their birthdays quietly, because my son would want them or would be disturbed by it being given away. I think I should have let him feel that way to make him learn that all is not ours.

Rest of the tips I obtained from my web search, are fairly commonsensical and probably we all are aware of most of them. But despite knowing it ” all”, time and again we omit them when we need to use them.

Withdraw from Conflict
If your child is testing you through a temper tantrum, or being angry or speaking disrespectfully to you, it is best if you leave the room or tell the child you will be in the next room if he wants to “Try again.” Do not leave in anger or defeat. I know very well how “easier said than done” this tip is!

Separate the Deed from the Doer
Never tell a child that he is bad. That tears at his self-esteem. Help your child recognize that it isn’t that you don’t like him, but it is his behavior that you are unwilling to tolerate. In order for a child to have healthy self-esteem, he must know that he is loved unconditionally no matter what he does. Do not motivate your child by withdrawing your love from him. When in doubt, ask yourself, did my discipline build my child’s self-esteem?

Use Logical Consequences
Often the consequences are too far in the future to practically use a natural consequence. When that is the case, logical consequences are effective. A consequence for the child must be logically related to the behavior in order for it to work. For example, if your child forgets to return his video and you ground him for a week, that punishment will only create resentment within your child. However, if you return the video for him and either deduct the amount from his allowance or allow him to work off the money owed, then your child can see the logic to your discipline.

God has indeed been very forgiving and kind to me and my husband as parents —despite all the major & minor follies—kids arent as bad as they could have been. They may not be “superkids” but I am still proud of them.
When we aspire to have “superkids”—we must question ourselves—

Keep thinking….

Ilmana Fasih
23 November 2010.

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