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August 3, 2013 / Gul Malani

Small tips for Easy & Fun Parenting

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Parenting gives us a great opportunity for us parents to transform and empower our children according to Dr. Shefali Tsabary. Our own experiences also confirm this!

Parenting becomes simple and fun if both the parents are in pure awareness and full acceptance of the present moment. It implies remaining peaceful and calm (non reactive) most of the time and accepting our child as he/she is right now!

Preferably, both parents should individually and jointly, dedicate adequate time to bring up the child. Ideally, the father should take three months paternity leave and the mother a full year of maternity leave. The best option is that one of the parents is available full time to the child till the child is about 4 years old and is showing signs of independence. This way, parent’s work pressures will not affect patient, attentive, caring, loving, physically and psychologically healthy up bringing of the child!

Additionally, it is equally important that the husband cares and lovingly looks after the health and welfare of his wife as she is likely to be occasionally sad, depressed or may even break down as her life style changes dramatically! This can have a disastrous effect on breast feeding, health and the up bringing of the child as well as on the good and proper functioning of the family and home! Husband’s full time commitment, and not casual support, to the wife is absolutely essential during the first year of the child! It continues to be necessary thereafter also for good up bringing of the child!

Each day is a new day with a child as rapid changes are the norm! Forever, new situations will arise with children even when they grow up and become adults. Try and not label them as problems but as challenging situations that will bring out the best in us parents! In order to handle these challenging situations, both parents have to be very patient and sensitive to the needs and wants of the child to an extent that parents should be able to respond to the whispers from the child. They should not have to wait for the child to cry hard or throw tantrums! Parents have to be very careful and aware that their own needs and wants or the needs and wants of other family members or friends do not override the needs and wants of the infant or child! Parents have to remain focused on the needs and wants of the child and make their decisions from the child’s point of view for the child’s healthy up bringing!

Newly born infants needs are limited to feeding, burping, cleaning, sleeping, playing and cuddling! But when to do what for the infant does not come easily from the mother’s instincts or grandmother’s experience as most of us believe! We recommend that parents to read during pregnancy and follow up in the first year of infancy, Gina Ford’s very useful and relevant book titled ‘The New Contended Little Baby Book’. She states ‘The whole aim of CLB routines (which varies as the baby is growing) is to ensure from the very beginning that the baby’s needs are being met so that he (she) does not need to cry for any length of time. If a baby is in a routine from a very early age the mother will quickly learn to understand and anticipate his (her) needs. I have found that this results in the baby crying very seldom – around 5-10 minutes a day in my experience‘. Another quote from this book on Feeding – ‘By structuring your baby’s feeds from early on, things should never get to a stage where he (she) is having to cry to let you know he (she) is hungry, as you will be pre-empting his (her) feeding needs‘. Yet another quote on Structuring the Milk Feeds – ‘The aim of the CLB feeding routines is to ensure that the individual needs of all babies can be met‘.

Parents have to be astutely aware and observant at all times and check if required so as to reduce the child’s discomfort to the minimum and do the needful soonest like cleaning, feeding, burping, helping the child to sleep, playing, cuddling or medicating when required! Changes in the patterns and routines of the child should be noticed and evaluated to eliminate unnecessary triggers like handling of the child by strangers, noisy or not so clean environment, family members playing with the child during its sleep time, feeding being delayed for want of timely organisation, delay in changing diapers and other such situations. Routines will also change as the child keeps on growing and this has to be understood too! However, we have to provide for the fact that we are dealing with a human child and not a robot so rigidly adhering to recommended routines everyday will be to the detriment of the mother as well as of the child!

As the infant grows older, its Intellect starts forming its illusory identity called the ‘Ego’ based on inputs from parents, family members and friends. Child’s natural capability of living in the present moment starts to get replaced by living in the future or in the past! This is the beginning of the child’s wants and the resultant disharmony with its own self! So, when the child expresses its wants, parents should listen carefully and not react. Calmly and lovingly parents should explain to the child if they are not willing or ready to fulfill the specific want of the child so that the disharmony within the child is kept at the lowest possible level! This does require careful handling if we want to have our child be in peace & harmony with itself most of the time! Only when our child is in peace & harmony with its own self, can we expect it to be in peace & harmony with others as well as with the Universe so that she/he can live life fully!

Despite improper behaviour of the child, parents should never threaten to punish or leave the child and go away as the child’s only security is its parents! When the child is calmer, we can explain the difference between proper and improper behaviour so that the child can exercise her/his choice in the future! Punishment has no long term effect. It only lowers the self esteem of the child and drives the child to put on a mask of good behaviour in  the presence the parents!

For most parents loving and caring means being anxious and worried about the child’s future and taking numerous steps (mainly financial and physical) to ensure that adequate provision is made to take care of any untoward events that may happen in the future. Whereas, true loving and caring is when parents listen to and understand the child without reacting and commenting each and every time the child is communicating with any of its parents!

Healthy upbringing that will lead to psychologically strong and complete children, capable of independently handling life’s up and downs, requires parental acceptance and acknowledgement of the inner qualities of the child, like imagination, creativity, decision making, honesty, loving and helping others, good communication, confidence, courage, skills developed, gratitude, learning, understanding, experiencing emotions fully and coming through to a state of calm again, and any other such inner qualities.

Complimenting or rewarding the child only for external achievements like doing well or excelling in studies, sports, winning medals or honour etc can build in fears of failures and make the child very anxious and worried in the future of repeating or improving on the earlier successes, thereby losing its capabilities of living life fully in the present moment and doing the best it is capable of doing! We have to also appreciate and compliment the child for building inner strengths which are very important as only the inner strengths carry an individual smoothly through life!

Compliments or Praise should be descriptive and based on the parents taking genuine interest by observing and experiencing the details of what the child has done or achieved. Just responding quickly and saying good, wonderful or well done will leave doubts in the mind of the child about the genuineness of the compliment! Descriptive Praise helps the child become aware and appreciative of it’s own strengths. (extracted from the chapter on ‘Praise’ in Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish’s book titled “How to talk so Kids will listen & listen so Kids will Talk”) *

Please be aware that success in the external world, like doing well in studies or sports or having special talents or skills does not imply that the child is happy and strong from within! Inner Strength is most important for every child and parents have to carefully help the child build this up. Parents should do everything possible to build the child’s inner strengths and self esteem!

Below is some more wisdom from Ms. Adele Faber & Ms. Elaine Mazlish book.

Our purpose is to speak to what is best in our children-their intelligence, their sense of responsibility, their sense of humor, their ability to be sensitive to the needs of others.

We want to put an end to talk that wounds the spirit, and search out the language that nourishes self-esteem.

We want to create an emotional climate that encourages children to cooperate because they care about themselves, and because they care about us. 

HAPPY & FUN PARENTING BUILDS HAPPY FAMILIES WITH HAPPY CHILDREN! Let us do the best we can for our own selves as well as for our kids now!

I could believe that despite our feelings of pride in our children’s progress and joy in their growing independence, there could also be the ache and emptiness of no longer being needed – Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish 

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