First things first, there is no right way or wrong way to bring up your child. There is only the best-you-can-do way. The birth of a child also is the day parents are born. Both explore and grow with each other. While it is not just expected but acceptable for children to fall and dust themselves off before moving on, one misstep by parents can alter the course of the child’s development. But there is hope. More often than not, most of these mistakes are not irrevocable and parents can catch themselves in time and turn the tide around.
Here are five ways to avoid making some common parenting mistakes
1. Involve your child in household work. Children should not be allowed to become too dependent on parents for their physical and psychological needs. It is very essential that they start building their independent thought and acting by themselves at a very young age so the culture of self-reliance sets in. A great way to facilitate this is involving the children in the household work like sweeping the floor, setting the dining table, watering plants, filling water bottles, pumping up cushions, making the bed, etc. It also helps the younger children build their gross motor skills while they are learning some essential life skills that will become second nature to them as they grow.
2. Discipline should be necessary and sufficient. Too much discipline or too little discipline is a strict no-no. The mantra every parent should live by is necessary and sufficient. Inculcate discipline by modeling the best behavior. Don’t be overprotective about exposing the child to the harsh realities of life like failure and disappointment. Only when children face these will they be able to build the discipline needed to tackle them.
3. Listen to your child. It may sound mundane but it is the most important thing a parent can do in a day. Don’t just hear what your child is saying while you check your mail or stir a curry. Take time out, sit down, and have an eye to eye conversation where the child is doing most of the talking. The child should never feel that there is no one who understands him. He should be able to freely talk to a parent and express herself.
4. Give freedom for exploration. Avoid restricting your child’s freedom by setting up physical barriers that won’t allow the child to crawl and explore the floor; or my picking her up when she wants to run around. Let her move freely and explore the world around her by touch and feel. Remember every experience the child has teaches her something. If it is chasing an ant, she will likely learn how to avoid a stinging bite. If it is mixing chapati dough she will learn that she can be covered in white! Allowing exploration is the best learning tool a parent can give a child.
5. Believe in your child. Children are more capable than we give them credit. Give your child the chance to know his own limits when he volunteers for a task. Any realization arising out of this work would have achieved two things- the child knows that you will always believe in him and he knows that he can back himself to do a good job.
Criticism has to be only of the constructive variety. There is no space for outright rejection of any work done by a child. The minute this happens, the child will never wholeheartedly attempt to do anything in the future.
Remember parenting is a two-way street. You always work in tandem with the child. The more you give the more you get whether it is love, freedom, responsibility, discipline, or trust.