How Parenting Experts Discipline Their Children — Part 1
We often consult experts to find solutions to our parenting woes, but we forget that they are parents too. So, have you ever wondered how experts discipline or bring up their children?
By Jasmine Kaur
Parents try to do the best for their children, in every way they can. From providing for their needs to taking care of them and teaching them all about the ways of the world,, parents try to make sure that their children always remain happy and safe.
But, at times, things don’t always go according to plan. Issues do crop up between parents and children, especially when parents try to discipline them. And, that’s when experts come in to suggest possible solutions and settle things down.
But, most experts are also parents and, like us, face similar issues with their children . What do think they do at such times?
We talked with experts to understand their parenting philosophies and to find out how they deal with their children. Following are the excerpts:
Rupal Jusraj Patel has been a parenting coach, a parent-and-child counsellor for the past 16 to 17 years. She has a 19-year-old daughter, Unnati.
What are the two mistakes you didn’t want to make as a parent? (Because you saw other parents or even your own parents, making those mistakes.)
I didn’t want to be either a dictator or a doormat. I wanted to give my child limits with flexibility. And, I was 110 per cent sure that I would not hit, shout or call my child names.
Name the two significant discipline issues you struggled with most while raising your child...
I didn’t struggle much, because I learnt parenting quite early. The only struggle, if you can call it so, is that it takes a while for me to get my daughter to do certain tasks because she is not one who will blindly follow directions. I would not call it a struggle though because I raised her to be independent. So, I can’t say that she should not think for herself. Although, we don’t always agree with each other, I have learnt to respect her stand.
I know that I had an easier time parenting than many other parents because I applied the parenting techniques I learnt, early on. And, that is the idea behind conducting parenting workshops, but people do not always understand that.
Some tips you would like to share with parents who are struggling with discipline issues...
A child does not know right from wrong. Discipline issues can range from refusing to go to bed on time or not doing their homework to, arguing, screaming or hitting. So, limits should be set, but as the child grows and learn to make her own decisions, these boundaries should also be adjusted.
Parents need to pick and choose their battles as their child grows up. When the child is young, it’s easier in some ways, because she is looking for guidance. But, how much the child listens to her parents changes as she grows, because she is becoming her own person. So, if you expect her to pay the same attention to you as she did before, then you are not teaching her to think for herself.
If the parent–child relationship is very strong, then disciplining will work. If you do not work on the relationship, then your efforts to discipline your child will not work.
The key is to make your children listen to you because they want to, not because they have to.
Parents also need to understand the purpose of disciplining their child. The aim is to teach the child to learn from her mistakes. If the purpose of discipline is to punish, then that is not discipline. The general mentality is to look at discipline as punishment. So, when you discipline your child you need to ask yourself a few questions — ‘When I am disciplining my child, am I teaching my child something?’ or ‘Is my child learning from this?’ The aim is to empower your child with knowledge so she doesn’t make the mistake again. It is not about her listening to what you have to say, it is doing what is best for her.
Dr Mahalakshmi Rajagopal is a consultant psychologist and depression counsellor from Delhi. She is the Founder Director of Sahayam — an organisation that provides emotional and psychological wellness through individual consultation and training programmes. She has two daughters aged 23 and 20.
As a parent, what are the discipline mistakes you avoided making?
I didn’t want to be overprotective and I didn't want to indulge in helicopter parenting. I avoided doing these two things because they are very harmful for children.
The two discipline issues you struggled with the most while raising your children…
My children used to eat extremely slowly and I used to get impatient. I would give them fruits and dried fruits to eat and they would sit with that for hours. Eventually, I would have to throw away the food, which made me feel frustrated.
So, how did you deal the situation?
I don’t think I dealt with it very well, as even now they don’t like dried fruits (laughs). Sometimes I would overlook what they did, and at times, I would crush the dried fruits or nuts and knead it with dough to make chapatis. Even when they were in high school, their friends used to complain about their habit of eating slowly. So, I really didn’t deal with it well.
Did you understand why your children were so slow at eating?
I don’t know, because even now, they eat slowly! But, if they have classes or have to go somewhere, they eat quickly. I think perhaps they used to chat with each other or relax, as they would have just came back from school, and that’s why they took so long to finish their food.
Other than this, I never faced any problems with my children. I followed positive parenting from the beginning and everything fell into place. Right from the beginning, I have never carried their bags, so they had to carry their bags to the bus stop or school or wherever. They would sit and do their homework on their own and I would never sit with them. So, they were regular in such things.
I also wanted them to be honest. So, if they got up late, missed the bus and couldn't go to school, that is what I wrote in their leave note. They had to show the note to their teachers, even if they got a scolding I didn't go and argue with the teachers if my children complained about them. Instead, I helped my children understand the reason behind the teachers' actions. They had to respect their teachers and not find fault from a young age.
Children also learn certain things from the way they have been brought up. For example, my daughters shared a mobile for a long time. When my eldest child passed class 12, that’s when we got her a smartphone. Till then, it did not occur to her that she needed one one, even though both of them studied in a posh school in south Delhi. When you do not give priority to some things, your children also learn those values. So, I didn’t have problems with cutting down on their luxuries, which is a common issue parents of adolescent children face today.
Anything else you would like to add?
How you lead your life and the things that are important to you teaches your child a lot. So, don't lead a double life. For example, if you have a smartphone and are busy with it all the time, you won't be able to tell your child not to ask for one. Remember, parents pass on their perceptions to their child. If we, as parents, remember that, it’ll make parenting easy.
Also, parents need to teach their child to be responsible from a young age. Many parents carry their child’s school bag right up to the school gate. It is not difficult for a five or six-year-old to do this on his own. Children should know it’s ‘My bag and my books, so, it's my responsibility’.
As a parent, if you think that you have answers to all the challenges that you will face on your parenting journey, think again. Life can surprise you in unexpected ways.
So, be clear about your parenting philosophy and goal, and live by them.
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About the author:
Written by Jasmine Kaur on 31 December 2018.
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