REMINDS: DR. AFROZE ANJUM
When weíre a hard-working, on the fast track – an AgayBarho! sort of an individual, then we sure do recognize the proper impact of good parenting. It is as important as getting ahead with the next big break in our career. As we are only human, sometimes we tend to cut short on our primary responsibilities while being caught up in the being busy race. Hold on, and remember that parenting requires as much dedication, method and work as careers themselves. Parenting is work. Just of a different nature; and sometimes more upon our own selves than our child. Dr. Afroze Anjum, a certified School Psychologist shares with us some key elements that can help identify what is in the best interest of our children, and us.
‘I am just feeling hurt right now because my daughter yelled at me when I asked her to eat her breakfast, and when I confronted her for talking to me that way, she said, “It’s because you just yelled at me.” After only a moment of reflection, I realized she was correct.’
What my daughter just did has been confirmed by a body of research: your child will end up doing what you do. Their problem solving or emotional management skills will not be very different than yours. Children of parents who use drugs are more likely to become drug users, and your child will most likely become abusive in his/her relationships if you abuse your child physically or emotionally, with or without knowing. I would say though, that if you reflect enough, you would find out things you didn’t know earlier. You cannot expect your child to eat healthy if your own refrigerator or kitchen shelves are full of junk food.
While these behaviour patterns tend to repeat, science has not been able to come up with clear-cut answers, as the “nature vs nurture” controversy about such issues tends to complicate our conclusions. For instance, many of our behaviours are a result of genetic pre-disposition, as about 50% of our personality is gene-dependent. To give an example, we are more prone to developing depressive behaviours, if one of our parents has struggled with depression. Many behaviours such as self-control, impulsiveness, anxiety, obesity, and health problems have genetic links. On the other hand, the researchers who support the importance of nurturance argue that one will not exhibit a particular behaviour even when genetically predisposed towards it if the environment did not support it. So a child might end up being a happy and fully functioning adult even though their father was depressed – if they are raised in an environment which focuses on happiness, and other members of the family are able to ward off the risk factors. Hence, this tells us the importance of parents being aware of their own vulnerabilities, and making an effort to work upon them via various ways [e.g. seeking counselling, developing awareness, and learning new coping skills etc.], so that there are less chances of their children struggling with the same issues. It might be difficult, but not impossible.
This brings us to the concept of the “role model” given by Albert Bandura. A “role model” is a person – usually of our gender – whom we admire and like to emulate, as every child needs one. As healthy role models, parents can try the following steps to help in the upbringing of their children.
Practice what you preach
You should not limit your childrearing to just talk or lectures, but walking the talk, as your child has the uncanny ability to observe your behaviours, and notice your hypocrisies, if and wherever they exist. Not translating your words into actions only confuses their moral sense, and you begin to lose their trust and respect. Do what you want your child to do.
Establish a suitable personality to follow
Talk to your children about people you admire and their qualities. Encourage them to pick and connect with their role models [teachers, relatives, family/community members, etc.] from their real lives. Absence of these real role models leads them into borrowing these role models from other media; while this may encourage them to talk or look like that person, they never get to really know or interact with them.
Connect with your children personally
Take time to listen to your child without judging. Not only will your child feel heard, but they will learn to listen to you, and others in return as well. Listening is a practice. Help them inculcate it by practicing it yourself.
Learn to give it time
Stay patient with your child, as they tend to learn in small steps. There is a plethora of research on sleeper effects, which means that your child may act upon what you said months or years after. For instance, they may resist your advice on sleep hygiene for a long time, until one day it makes sense to them, and they are ready to bring it into practice.
Admit that you are human
You do not have to come across as perfect to your children. Admit your mistakes, apologize often, and share some of your conflicts in an age appropriate manner with your children. This will help your child in learning to connect with you, as well as developing a realistic image of life.
Create a balanced form of parenting
Develop an authoritative parenting style – where parents have high expectations, engage kids in forming realistic and fair rules, and give consequences for behaviours, but are warm and supportive. Authoritarian [parents are harsh and punitive with rigid rules] or permissive [parents are lax with no rules or consequences] parenting leads to inappropriate behaviours in children.
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