How to Be a Good Parent II
Children of different age groups demand different approaches. But for the health of the family, parents must remain a guiding force, knowing how to be assertive while giving children the freedom to explore and learn.
Letting them get bored: Just the fear of a whining, demanding child sometimes compels parents to enroll them in different classes right from a young age so that they have no time to get bored! There is an age criterion for many activities. For instance, since the bones are still forming in the early years, six years is the recommended age to teach them dance. Their attention spans are also shorter, and pushing them to sit for hour-long classes can create aversion to learning anything. Instead, let them sit idle or get bored, since that will inspire them to be creative and try out new things.
Helping with the chores: Yes, your son or daughter is the prince(ss), the apple of your eye and you will do anything for them. But chores are not just tasks to be done. They improve motor skills, help develop self-confidence and prepare one for life. In fact, in the Montessori system of education, age-appropriate chores are included as part of the learning process.
Gender stereotyping: ‘Boys will be boys’ is an oft-heard excuse for boys who rough up others and turn into bullies. Boys are different from girls and have a different response system to stimuli. But this cannot be a reason not to respect others. Be it a girl or a boy, instead of finding an excuse to justify their bullying behavior, see if a bit more of attention from you can help them change. And, chores, by the way, are meant for both sexes. There are no tasks too mean for boys and too difficult for girls anymore.
Balancing between academics and hobbies: Ah, that dreadful, uncertain future when even a 98% no longer suffices to get admission in a good college in the right course! But, remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Hobbies are a great way to unwind and also help in developing the personality of the child, enhancing their life skills, sharpening their wits, and, if it is sports or dance, making them fit and improving their coordination skills. Encourage them to pursue a hobby of their choice and support them to express their talent whenever and wherever they can.
Playtime: Free unstructured playtime with peers is another important need of a growing child that a parent should encourage. This improves team playing skills, communication, and readiness to embrace success and failure. And, most importantly, don’t fight your child’s battles over perceived wrongs. Be supportive and understanding, but let them deal with their playmates on their own without your running to their defense at the smallest slight.
Being a friend vs parent: Parenting is like tightrope walking. Be too much like a parent, and you lose the opportunity to befriend your child. Behave like a friend, and you are left with no authority. Your child can find many friends in the world if you bring them up right, but he or she has only you as a parent. Parenting is about support, guidance and security. Put your foot down, draw lines, dictate edicts, but also explain why in a way they can understand.
Most importantly, respect your children and allow them to dream. The parent-child bond is unique and cannot be replicated. There are no manuals for parenting and you can only learn through trial and error. But if you keep the goal as bringing up lovable, responsible and sensible individuals into the society, then you have done your job as a better parent.