Parents often come to me exasperated by their child’s behavior and wishing that I counsel the child. It is sometimes a four year old, who is very aggressive, an eight year old, who is very slow in his responses or an eighteen year old, who keeps failing in the exams.
Though the issues are seemingly varied, there is a common cause of worry.
The child is not measuring up to their expectations……..
To these parents, I ask, have you ever checked what your child expects of you?
In the eyes of the child, you rank right up there next to God. You have the power to heal, scare away monsters, repair his toys and love him without limits unconditionally. He never compares you with anyone. He does not compare your salary or job profile with that of the father of his friend’s. Do not disappoint him by expressing your conditions and expectations. Do not ever create benchmarks. He shall start hating himself and the person with whom he is always compared with.
The insensitive, competitive world is already doing it in good measure. Please spare your efforts.
Know that you are your child’s best friend and guide. No one would understand him better than you. Nobody can replace you. Spend maximum time with him to understand him better. There could be some special traits that he has, which could pleasantly surprise you. Know that you had partnered with the God Almighty to create him.
Observe your child objectively. Check his physical faculties, his vision, his hearing abilities, his responses, his motor developments, his comprehension, his ability to express and correlate. Consult the teachers, if they have observed any abnormality. They have an advantage of studying his responses against that of his peers. Take it as a constructive feedback. Do not be overly alarmed by any adverse revelations, because it is only you, who has the magic wand to make a difference. Do not doubt your capabilities. Challenges are only for those who have the strength to face it.
We, who have been endowed with sound faculties, can never understand what its absence would mean. Lack of faculties can be very distressing, especially if one is unable to express and when there seems to be no recourse. A child may not even be aware of his deficiency. For eg a child with short sighted vision, feels that the whole world sees the same blurred vision that he has. This results in lack of skill in copying from the Blackboard or writing in his book and he subconsciously avoids it. No one wishes to pursue an activity which one is not good at. The added on inability to express the disability can be very frustrating to a child and he gets labeled slow, lousy, and lazy much to his chagrin. He expresses his annoyance through destruction, aggression and further incurs the wrath of the teachers and parents.
Teachers would express their inability to help, considering the large class strength. The parent who has not actually realized the key issue is unduly paranoid and disguises it through anger at the vulnerable child. The net result is that the child receives only negative messages from us, adults.
Parents please pause and check, if you have been unfair to your precious baby and know that during crisis he needs you the most. It is now or never.
Parents also need to be wary of comparison. Do not ever compare your precious child with any one, not even with his sibling. He is born with his unique identity. A special destiny awaits him. Constant comparison leads to blind emulation and can destroy the spark within. It was during one of my visits to a KG Class, when I witnessed a lone child, crying while copying something in her note book. Surprised I approached her and asked the teacher the cause of such despair in the child. The teacher explained that the child could never stand any one writing ahead of her in the class. The moment she saw her neighbor complete her work faster, she would be miserable and tears would roll down involuntarily. This in turn required her to pause a while to dry herself, which delayed her further. I was shocked at the stress of the four year old! Who could have instilled that feeling in that tender mind? Mind you parents, this is nothing less than child abuse !!!
A mother of a class I student, visited me with a request to get copies of the Class Work. Her child was unwell and she needed to get her son oriented to the class work done in his absence. The needful was done. The mother came to me again and pleading privacy said she wished to confess. She narrated that her son never listened to her. In fact he had often said that he hated her. Just the week prior, in the Maths test the child had scored 4 over 10 and had no remorse. He had indifferently thrown his bag and proceeded to play as if it did not matter. Angered by such a careless attitude, she had branded him with the hot cooking spoon, which was the only tool with her while she cooked. The tender hand of the child had got totally charred. The child was now at home recovering from the burns and she, as a mother was collecting the class work. Justifying her act, the mother said that she had abandoned her very promising career, just for the sake of the child and she was getting too frustrated at the lack of sincerity in the child. My advice to the parent was to take up her job to ensure some professional fulfillment to her and some space to the child. It was a case of over indulgence and over familiarity which invariably breeds contempt.
Parents often feel that their children have to be groomed well, so that they are able to earn their decent livelihood. They feel their investment in the upbringing in form of time and money shall pay rich dividends in the times of their need. These expectations spoil the nobility and the sanctity of the beautiful relation. It may please be remembered that the child did not demand to be born out of you. It was purely for your pleasure that you bore him. It suited your convenience and image building, to send him to the best reputed school in the vicinity. How is it fair to expect him to fulfill all your unrealized dreams? I have often witnessed parents quarreling amidst themselves to decide about the best possible career option for their child, based on the highest paying jobs in the market. This leads to sufficient parental pressure on the child and the child in turn resorts to looking at his peers for support. He feels secure getting camouflaged in one single race. He prefers losing his identity and being treated as a part of the team. All these happen because the child has lost faith in himself and his capabilities. Parents are singularly responsible to build the self esteem of the child.
Parents, do not treat your child as an investment. Even if you do, you already have got sufficient returns in form of Naming Rights, Right to cuddle, right to hold a new born, getting lovable kisses smeared with chocolate and most importantly someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter how your boss behaved today or how your stocks performed that day. Even the lousiest cook and the dreariest mothers are assured to get the title of Bestest Cook and Most Beautiful Damsel on Earth. By becoming a parent, in many ways you get to be immortal. You get another branch added to the family tree. You get free education in psychology, nursing, justice, communication and negotiation skills that no college can match.
Parents should never advice children on good behavior. It often falls on deaf ears. Children learn best by emulation. Values are never taught, they are caught. Put up your best behavior and know that your child shall follow suit. Do not ever criticize school or teachers in presence of the child. Your criticism may have been for some unfavorable, unacceptable act of the school management or the teacher; however the child is going to generalize it. He shall subconsciously decide that the school is a wrong place to learn and the learning shall stop. Purely in the interest of the child’s education, do not undermine the efficiency of the teacher. They may err at times, but they are there to take your place in your absence and are trying their best to help you. Help them to help you…….
Love and celebrate the children’s presence in your life and express your heart felt gratitude to the Creator to have chosen you to partner with for HIS CREATIONS !!!
-Mrs Jayshree Venkatraman