Work keeps Rahul away from home for long hours and it's usually late in the evening when he returns home. But, whenever he steps in the door, his daughter, Diya, is there to greet him with the cutest smile. And, while Rahul winds down, she keeps hovering around him, chirping excitedly about the compliment she got from her teacher or how she helped her friend solve a Maths problem or what she did after she returned home.
Diya eagerly waits for the weekend when her father will be home and she can spend the day with him. And, when it is the weekend, she drags Rahul to take part in whatever she is doing.
But, though Rahul does spend time with her, he isn't present with her in the moment. Something or the other keeps him preoccupied or distracted — an upcoming meeting or a presentation or a phone call from a colleague. To make up for his 'not being there', Rahul ensures that Diya's every need is fulfilled and everything she asks for — from gadgets to toys and clothes — is 'bought' for her.
Are you also someone who thinks that fulfilling your child’s material needs will also take care of her every need?
If so, then let's read on to find what you may not be giving your child:
- Physical contact: From hugs to kisses to high-fives, a child needs to physically feel your love. Hugs and cuddles will not only make your child feel good but also benefit his health. According to studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, in the US, it has been found that parental touch lowers heart rate, slows down breathing, decreases stress hormone levels and boosts immunity. What's more, it reassures a child and makes him feel emotionally secure. So, if your child is sad or disappointed about something, give him a hug to make him feel better.
- Positive attention: Few things are more satisfying to a child than having you look at her with a smile and an expression which says 'I'm all ears'. So, pay attention to your child. And, do keep in mind that your child is a lot more perceptive than you give her credit for. She knows when you’re actually listening and when you’re just pretending to. Paying attention to your child makes her feel valued. It will also give her the confidence to speak out and help her develop a positive self-image.
- Morale-boosting moments: Words of encouragement can make the difference between whether a child will work hard to get better at something or give up after a few attempts. Sincere and honest words of praise from you can work wonders. So, praise the effort your child invests in the task, regardless of the outcome. For example, your child worked hard to prepare well for the exams yet his scores weren't good. Appreciate the hard work he put in instead of criticising him for not scoring well.
- Stable home environment: A stable childhood forms the foundation of a happy and successful future. So, establishing a regular routine, without too many daily changes, will make your child feel safe and secure. Similarly, a change of house, school or city can be difficult for your child to handle. But more than any other changes, frequent changes in your mood can also leave your child feeling unsure. So, maintain your composure to provide your child with a stable home environment.
- Code of behaviour: A child needs to learn what's acceptable and what isn't, and obey rules. Fulfilling your child's every desire and failing to discipline her can give rise to serious behavioural issues in the future. Also, remember that your child may feel unhappy and not like being disciplined. But, rest assured that once your child grows up and understands why you brought him up that way, he will appreciate what you did.
- Fun and happy moments: Laughing isn't just an expression of our happiness, but research has shown that laughing, or having fun and happy moments promotes good physical and mental health. In fact, the scientific community is debating whether laughter can prescribed for good health as the study by Dexter et al, 'The Laughter Prescription', published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine (2016) shows. The authors say, "enough evidence indicates that laughter may be employed as part of our basic armamentarium to help prevent diseases, reduce costs, and ensure a healthier population." So, be silly, tickle, crack jokes, or giggle along with your child. It will do wonders for you both!
- Heart to heart connection: The bond between a child and parent isn't just physical but emotional as well. The ability to converse, empathise and get along reflects how close they are to each other. So, make good use of every opportunity to be with your child — whether it’s talking about the bird sitting on the window sill, driving her to school, having dinner together or going for a walk. Your child will feel happy and understand that nothing maters to you as much as she does.
Money is important. For, lack of it would prevent us from fulfilling the needs of our families and leave us miserable. But, as parents, we should also remember that there are a lot of things our children need that don't require money. And, it is those very essential moments or instances that usually turn out be the gifts our children will treasure throughout their lives.
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