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October 2, 2020 / Gul Malani

Parent’s Opinions and Feelings are Magical

Isn’t it strange that we, parents, condition and program our children to have a strong Self Identity (Ego) and at the same time unknowingly we lower or damage their self esteem by shaming them. All children have the highest regard for the opinions and feelings of their Parents about them. When children feel that their parents respect them and are having a high opinion about them, the child lives a magical life. If they feel that their parents do not respect them, as they have a very low opinion of them and/or poor feelings for them, then life can be very sad and depressing, becoming a difficult struggle for the child.

Therefore, please be very careful in communication with children and definitely avoid the following or similar real life situations which lower the child’s self esteem or shames them, giving them the feeling that their parents do not respect or appreciate them. Quite a few of the statements below are inspired by the Podcast of Dr. Pippa Grange, Psychologist with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee.

  • When parents verbally abuse the child by angrily labelling them as stupid, untidy, clumsy. cheeky, slow, or making statements like she/he will never learn mathematics, will never do much with her/his life, etc. Such adjectives and statements hurt the child immensely and affects their Intellect. So much so, such statements can become a prophecy of what the child may become when it grows up
  • When the child is seeking the parent’s attention but the parent is too busy and ignores or negatively reacts to the child. Ideally, the parent can respond briefly and inform the child that she/he is busy at the moment and will definitely revert back to the child soon. Whenever they can, parents should give their intimate presence to the child which is sharing quiet times and love rather than giving advice and disciplining them. When the child is talking, parents should patiently listen and understand the child’s point of view without commenting, ridiculing or laughing at it, or correcting or suggesting alternatives, and opinions immediately.
  • Angrily reacting by immediately correcting or criticizing the child’s behavior instead of understanding why the child is behaving inappropriately. The child may be hurting inside for reasons of ill health, hunger, lack of adequate sleep, over burdened with studies, homework or because of too many extra curricular activities scheduled for the child. Problem could be emotional too, like inadequate loving or attention or understanding from the parents, parents who are quarrelling often, a fight with a family member or a friend, or being prevented in doing an activity that it wants to do badly, or not getting what it wants, etc.
  • Reacting or angrily punishing or even threatening to punish the child either rightly or wrongly. Many parents think that punishment is a means to discipline a child as a disciplined child is easier to manage for modern day, double income, busy, working parents. However, punishment is an act of conditional (not unconditional) love on the part of parents, which hurts rather than helps a child’s self esteem and also has short term results. A punished child can build up anger against the parent and become rebellious as it grows up and is physically bigger and stronger to challenge her/his parents. Or it can stop loving it’s parents and seek love from strangers or other unsuitable persons. Or it can go into a depression which can handicap the child for a good portion of it’s life. Punishment can be easily replaced by love to help the child to live life fully and happily rather than perform to the requirements of the parents.
  • Parenting with Love takes time and the parents have to be patient. Love parenting is helping the child to live life on it’s terms and not be focused only on outstanding achievements and outcomes. But the results will be positive and happy for their relationship as well as the results will be permanent. Parents need to be aware that disciplining a child or making it conform to our and/or our society’s standards is actually like shaving of the rough edges of the child which are the essential beauty and uniqueness of every child according to psychologist Dr. Pippa Grange. Regretfully, disciplined children are stressfully performing in life instead of living life fully and happily
  • Not sharing the joy of our life’s journey, instead being focused on achievements and outcomes. Focusing on achievements will make the child perform life rather than live it, according to the Dr. Grange. Shaming the child, when it does not win, or stand first or when it fails will hurt the child’s self esteem and it will feel worth less. Not coming first, not winning or failing are the more common occurrences and the reality in everyone’s lives. As long as the child has done the best it can, parents should see it as a Deep Win for the child deserving applause, despite the results. It is mathematically improbable that everyone stands first or everyone can win every time. Losing does not mean that the child is a loser according to Dr. Grange
  • Focusing on scarcity and fear to motivate the child. Instead, Parents should keep reassuring the child of the abundance it has in it’s life and that most of our fears are imaginary
  • Comparing the child with other children or siblings and adversely commenting on the child’s lower performance and capabilities
  • Praising another child in our own child’s presence without first showing warm affection for our child or praising our child first.
  • Highlighting or discussing mistakes and failures of the child. specially in the presence of other persons
  • Not understanding, not loving and hugging the child when the child is physically, mentally or emotionally hurt
  • Not allowing the child to experience her/his feelings fully by ignoring or denying them. Not helping the child to see or become aware of her/his feelings and/or experiences which the child will know best, feel them and help the child replace them if required
  • not accepting or respecting the young child, or teenager or grown up child as she/he is now or not accepting the child’s ideas and plans
  • being focused on perfection rather than sharing openly and honestly about ourselves as we are now and our relationships as they exist now. Essentially parents should not be dishonest and not cover up their own shames or fears according to the Dr. Grange. They should allow the child to express her/himself truthfully without fear of retribution
  • making the child do things in a particular way, which conveys to the child that if she/he does it in any other way, she/he is not good enough.
  • not letting go or not trusting the child to live her/his life properly
  • asking the child to apologise instead of letting her/him be and do what she/he feels right in every moment and continue to be her/himself without feeling shameful
  • not allowing the child to show up physically as she/he is now and in every moment, but to be presentable at all times. This will again drive the child to perform life rather than live it according to the Dr. Grange
  • not allowing the child to be mentally free and be something or do something it likes as this keeps the child away from authenticity
  • Focusing on the negative
  • Not connecting intimately with the child with kindness and honesty. Intimacy is a journey that can start by eye contact and connect as you both are now, without guarding your own selves.
  • Not bringing richness and depth in their relationship with each other
  • Not accepting the child as how she/he thinks she/he is now. Pushing the child to be something or somebody other than what she/he is now.

In order to retain a high self esteem and a low level of shame in the child, Parents have to give unconditional love and respect the child as she/he is now. Parents should always be available to listen and understand the child’s point of view as they are expressing it. Most young children feel and expect that their parents are the only ones that will understand them fully. Parents should not disappoint them in this regard and let the child’s self esteem take a beating. Parents should handle the child with love, kindness and extra care no matter how young or old they are so that their self esteem remains at a high level and their shame at a low level . Then Magic will happen with the child and it’s life. 250920

Never underestimate the power of parent’s caring and love. One small gesture can change the child’s life. Being a friend of your child is the best gift you can give to your loved one! – adapted from Tara Brach’s YouTube ‘Learning to Respond Not React’ 101120

Image courtesy of photostock at


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