I quit my full-time job because of my daughter’s high emotional sensitivity. Almost everyone questioned my decision. According to the people around, a 2-year-old does not know how to express and can’t have so many emotions. Also, by quitting my regular job, I was training her to be demanding.
I have never followed any parenting rules, in-fact there aren’t any. I wish parenting were that easy, and we had a one size fits all kind of manual. But regrettably, there isn’t a handbook. The only principle I believe in is treating children and their individuality with due respect. Hence, the ‘pep talks’ didn’t dissuade me, and I decided in favor of my child.
Comparison is at the Core of Indian Parenting
I remember being told by a mother how disappointed she was in her five years old. The child disagreed with being enrolled in a dance school. The mother confessed to coerce the child verbally and physically. I was appalled at her naivety. Firstly, when will people realize that hurting a child verbally or physically is abuse and not discipline?
Moreover, the peer pressure that is created by parents is worrisome. What if the kid is interested in witnessing the next supernova or studying Beethoven? Maybe the child is too young to know his likes and likes but can certainly decide where he/she wants to go. As parents, a little cajoling is fine, but nagging or force is unacceptable.
“See, Sharma Ji’s child started walking at one year, started speaking at 1.2 years, and your kid can’t even walk at 1.3 years of age?” Yes, those concerns (read comparisons) begin quite early in a child’s life. Often the constant jibes affect the parents so much that they eventually take action.
Unfortunately, many times, parents fall for such undemanding comments and push themselves and their children when it isn’t required.
Comparison, equal expectations from all children, and treating them as their possession is the center of Indian Parenting values. And with such mindset, it does more harm than good to the temperaments of the young minds.
Every Child is Unique
I am bad at remembering names and relations (Those in India would know how typical our family trees are). But my mother manages to embarrass me even today by asking me in front of the adaptive extended family if I remember who they are and what their name is. And then my daughter enjoys the show of me scolded by my mother.
That isn’t just a random rant I fit into this piece to lighten my heart. But I wanted to highlight how parents expect every child to be alike and not have a persona of their own.
Every child has a different personality trait- physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually. If we treat each child uniquely, we are fostering self-respect in the kids by creating an environment of acceptance. This directly influences a child’s emotional, cognitive, and social development.
It’s easier said than done. So here are specific tips for you to help children grow without affecting their individuality:
Observe your child
Create an excellent parent-child bond and observe the children. Try to figure out what interests them, what scares them, what can’t keep them engaged. If you can read and understand your child’s temperament, you are already halfway through.
Work as a Team
After you have identified your child(ren)’s interests, create goals based on these interest and encourage them to work towards them. Occasionally, introduce them to activities outside their comfort zone too, but not forcefully, rather amicably.
Happiness Should be the Priority
Happiness matters above all. Please ensure that your children feel happy and secure in the learning environment they are subject to.
Keep your Child Motivated
Use learning journals as a way to share achievements and to make that child feel proud and unique. Add children’s initials to the weekly planning to show you are considering the individual and plan for their next steps.
Never Compare Children
I have emphasized enough and will still do that every child is an individual with different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. You would never judge a fish by its ability to fly. Likewise, do not criticize your child for something that the Sharma Ji ka ladka can do, but your kid cannot.
Stop Giving Children Labels
Do not call one sibling brighter or less active, etc. than the other. Every child is different. One may be more inclined to sports; others may love books. One child may be witty; others might not be. But respect them for what they and don’t set expectations on what they are not.
Every child is special with unique abilities. They need support and guidance from the adults around them, but they don’t need to be tyrannized. With the right amount of assistance, and an environment of acceptance, learning, and growth, children will turn out to be great adults but at their own pace.