All of us react differently and have imaginative ways of doing things which is pretty similar to parenting as well. There is no best or worst way to deal with young, growing adults but sometimes experiences give you an unknown wisdom; a know-how which could help you and others in the long run. A single tried and tested way would probably not solve all problems because we are dealing with different characters, ages and circumstances. Being a single parent myself with kids aged from 5 to 14 and 17, I can assure you that I have had my share of ups and downs like so many parents out there! But looking back hindsight at certain situations, I have begun to understand that there are a few things that I could have been handled better, knowing what I know now!
It goes without saying that when a child is going through a temper tantrum, worse still when it happens to be in public…there you are stumped as a parent, probably feeling horrible and guilty, not to mention embarrassed with all the hot stares glaring at you, unmistakably giving you this feeling of being “The worst parent with a terribly raised child!” At these times, I concur that all bets are out of the window and you do what you can to survive, which might be dropping everything, to run out with your child or even bribing them with something just to get them to quieten down. Worst case scenario… (I hope nobody has to endeavour!) is when you feel the need to yell…which we know we shouldn’t and mustn’t have to resort to!
With that said, I am hoping these little tips I will be sharing may help you understand your kids better (if ever possible :)!), to cope/react better or to at least try with your dignity intact!
So here goes:
- Put yourself in your child’s shoes
Understand that children get stressed too with circumstances around them that you might have over-looked! When both of you have cooled down…try to sit them down and ask them questions which might help you understand why they are behaving/feeling the way they are. This will not only calm them but also reassure them (and you), that you care and are looking out for them!
2. Use the famous “Time-Out” if you need to
Make sure to make it age-appropriate; the general rule is one minute per year of your child’s age. So, a 2-year-old would get two minutes of time-out while a 5-year-old would get five minutes!
Create a time-out chair or space, such as the “thinking chair” or the “quiet zone.” Just make sure the area is neutral and boring, away from the distractions of other siblings, television, toys, or objects they could use to irritate you!
3. Grow with your child
There will always be the famous “Generation gap”, but you can help decrease it by keeping up with the times they are living in. I have sit downs and lots of casual chats with my eldest on the music he listens to and our favorite artists and the reasoning behind it. Agreed some of their music choices might sound very alien to you but hey we are trying to be part of the HIP crowd ;)! Try to find out more on the books, games, social media… topics they and their friends are currently talking about. This also gives you an insight into what they are up to without being too inquisitive!
4. They need some space too
Like I explained before, kids these days are exposed to so much more around them then we ever were. Computers, smart phones, technology can get very tiring and cumbersome. Isn’t it tiring for you? So you understand why it could be for them as well! Give them some space to reflect, calm down, and just hang with nothing to do. As parents we love to encourage our children to do various extra-curricular activities; sports, music, dancing, hobbies, which is all fine and good, but that must be followed up with relaxation too. Hence some space to rewind wouldn’t hurt.
5. Encourage but don’t push…
Being quite ambitious myself, I have had a few scenarios where I have been cross with my kids because their scores weren’t top notch or sometimes because they didn’t score that goal that I thought was theirs for the take! Thankfully, I have realized that those weren’t the best approach and learnt to never make the mistake of projecting my wants onto them. Kids are sensitive but hardy and they know when something motivates them or when it doesn’t. Communication should be a 2-way street here and try to work/resolve it out together with them. Remember we are there to support and guide them along the way, throwing in loads of love and compassion!
6. Let them decide when they are full…
As a child I was pretty much forced to eat everything on my plate. I understand that this was because our parents were taught not to waste food and they told us about the horror stories of starving children to get us to eat up! This might be true but who is best to judge when one is full? We know when we are full and guess what…so do your kids! Of course if they are not eating healthy or you suspect that they might be suffering from Bulimia, Anorexia or other eating disorders then you need to talk it out with them and maybe even consider seeking medical help.
7. Don’t “punish” but discipline them correctly with constant feedback
I always hated the word “punishment”; I swear it felt like I was some prisoner being lead to the gallowsJ! On a serious note though, discipline your child in a rational way, which means talking to them with a more serious tone and body language and proceeding to enforce better rules for the next time. A part of disciplining them is also praising them for a job well done or simply noticing and rewarding them for at least giving it a try! “Praise works wonders” and I can swear by this. Who doesn’t like receiving compliments or being recognised for a job well done?
8. Let them explain their situation
Kids will always get into trouble; we just hope that these might be little issues and not difficult ones! That is nature’s way of helping them grow, realise and learn from mistakes. Sure we are there to guide and advice along the way! When faced with such a situation, give them the chance to explain what happened and how they landed in that situation. Stand by them and support them in right or wrong, that was a given responsibility to you the day they were born! The least you can do is hear them out without already passing judgement!
9. Let them know how you feel
Open up to them and tell them how you feel. I communicate when I feel sad, or happy or even angry about certain situations. This creates a sort of bonding and you can be sure that this opens the door to them also communicating back to you when they need to. These emotional exchanges only serve to strengthen the relationship you share with your little one.
10. Never raise your hand
There is no need for it! Physical pain has and never will correct behaviour patterns. Kindness, compassion, love and good communication will however. They are your children, young adults deserving respect like each and every being on this planet does! If you ever reach that point where you think of resorting to it, let the alarm bells ring and step out of that situation. Go for a walk, let someone else temporarily talk to them, give them a time-out…anything till you can calm down and have some time to reflect on the situation at hand. Then go in with logic, common-sense and compassion and talk it through. The guilt of hitting or harming an innocent being is an impossible thing to bear and should never be condoned!
11. Even us-parents make mistakes
None of us are without fault; we are human and we can mistakes too. Let them know when you have made a mistake and apologise for it. Kids learn through example and doing. Set the correct wheel in motion!
12. Be you!
Remember the saying: “We become our parents”…Well, keep that in mind and don’t forget to be you! Our parents had their ways of dealing with us, another generation, another mind-set! You are here, now, so live with your time and the person you have become.
13. Keep learning and growing as a parent…become your child’s “Role-Model”
I am still learning every day on how I can grow and be a better parent to my lovelies. They are tomorrow’s adults and I want to make sure I am / become the best role-model they will ever need. The way you live your life will reflect back on them. I ask them for advice too, and I involve them in conversations which might impact them. They need to feel responsibility and empathy, which stems from their involvement in your daily life. Encourage, love and support them and always keep growing…
BY CHRISELDA BARRETTO
Check out more projects by Chriselda Barretto :