Is changing diapers and warming bottles all there is to parenting? Not at all. Here are five everyday skills that make you a great parent.
By Jasmine Kaur
Parenting is delightful, frustrating, fun, exhausting, demanding, fulfilling and so much more. But it's never easy and is constantly changing. However, despite the challenges, as a parent, it would have never occurred to you to give up on trying to do the best for your child. So, chances are, you are already a great parent, doing these five simple things.
You, on the other hand, have already realised that love and patience work better with children than strong-arm tactics like force and threats. You make it a point to tell your child how much you love him and hug him at least once a day. You consider your child's mistakes perfect learning opportunities. More important, you correct and guide him instead of scolding or humiliating him. You understand that your child's challenging behaviours are a sign of his inability to express himself in more acceptable ways. So, you equip him with the skills to express himself in a better manner than shaming him.
You don’t compare your child with others: Comparing their child with others comes naturally to almost every parent and, most parents do so, almost without noticing it — comparing a child with siblings and sometimes with peers or other children around. There are, however, some parents who consciously resist the temptation to make such comparisons. You are one of them. You don't do this because you know that she has her own unique identity and traits.
While she learns by observing those around her, when it comes to doing things, she does it her own way. And, when your child does not meet your expectations, you don't compare her with others to show her where she stands. Instead, you motivate and guide her. You come up with definitive ways to help her improve. You appreciate her effort but set higher goals. You make her aware of her strengths and weaknesses, and give her unconditional support and love.
According to Arundhati Swamy, Counsellor and Head – Parent Engagement Programs, ParentCircle, "Comparison greatly affects a child. If the comparison is with a sibling, it could lead to sibling rivalry that’s hard to overcome. Any comparison can lead to lower self-esteem in the child as it will bring out only the weaknesses and leave out the strengths. Moreover, continuous comparison may make your child think that she is incapable of doing something or, she may continue attempting to achieve someone else’s goals. Parents who compare their child with others have unrealistic expectations from their children. They do not realise that every child is unique and has different things to offer to the world."
You see the world through your child's eyes: Take a trip down memory lane and try to recall the thoughts that crossed your mind when you were a child. Think back to the fascination you felt when you saw a rainbow in the sky or a vividly coloured butterfly sit on a flower. Remember the excitement with which you planned trips to the stars and the moon, or the questions that arose in your mind when you saw birds flying in the sky and fish swimming in water.
Like you, your child also has a vivid imagination. And, while exploring the world around him, whenever he sees something new, he feels captivated and wants to know more. While your child may not be able voice his doubts or talk about what intrigues him, you are able to read his mind and understand him. This is because you can see the world through his eyes.
You allow your child freedom of expression: You allow your child to express her emotions and thoughts. You validate them and address her concerns and queries. You help your child understand her emotions by labelling them. You teach her how to express herself in acceptable ways. You do this because you understand that suppressing your child's feelings can affect her emotional intelligence adversely.
According to Quoidbach et al's study titled, ‘Emodiversity and the emotional ecosystem’ published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology (2014), emodiversity, or the diversity of emotions that an individual experiences, is an important indicator of mental and physical health. The more the number of emotions and the more intense the emotions; the better the emodiversity. The study says higher emodiversity is an indicator of better health.
You do not use guilt to control your child: A lot of parents try to exert psychological control over their child by making him feel bad about not conforming to their wishes. Parents usually do this to either discipline the child or, control his emotions and thoughts.
You understand that guilt induction will not do your child any good. So, you analyse and find out what's wrong and fix it. For example, if your child is challenging you with his behaviour, you try to understand why instead of making him feel bad about it. When you feel that you are about to lose your temper, you move away instead of blaming your child for spoiling your mood. As a parent, you are aware that along with getting your child to comply with your wishes, how you make him do it, is also important.
As parents, we know that we play a critical role in influencing our child's personality and helping her become a well-balanced individual. So, we are often tempted to compare ourselves with parents around us or even celebrities who are parents, to understand how well we are doing our job. Instead, we should understand that there are no perfect parents. That it is through love and compassion, and by modelling the right values, that we can raise a child who is an asset to society.
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