Happy Mother’s Day

Rudyard Kipling truly said “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” But there are times I end up asking myself—Is it so? Am I as good a mother as my mother had been?

I know the answer. It’s NO!!!

However good or bad a mother is, people judge her based on how her child or children turn out to be. I don’t know how I have turned out to be, but I know that I had (yes past tense; my mom left for her heavenly abode about 17 years back) the most terrific mother. She tried to instill the best of human values in me. Thanks ma!

Starting from the nine month of carrying her children (my sister and me) in her womb, hours of painful labour, and after a harrowing number of years of raising us, baring with our numerous chilhood and teenage tantrums, she has been able to make us who we are today. A few words can not describe the amount of gratitude she deserves. I have thanked her for some things, appreciated her for a few others, but there are many little yet special things she did which “then” went unnoticed. I am able to see them now very clearly, but I can’t say anything to her because she is no longer around.

I am now a mother of an 18 year old, but still feel the loss of my mom every single day. There are times when I wish I could pick the phone and talk to her, hear her voice, share my problems, ask her for advice, and even enjoy the silence. I can summarize it as:

The grief is inexplicable
The loss feels unbearable
The bereavement seems never-ending
The lament seems to do nothing
The pain is strong and relentless
The hurt has rendered me helpless
The damage done is permanent
Your death was my life’s worst moment
I miss you mom
– Anonymous

About honoring our mothers, Adrian Rogers said: “Obey her when you are young, care for her when she is old and honor her at all times.” Not just the mothers, this is the way we can honor both our parents (mothers and fathers).

Let me end with: happy mother’s day to all the mothers…..

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Saying No to Kids

 As a parent, you usually want to give to all demands your kids make. You just can’t say a no to your kids and the kids as usual, hate to hear a no. But the truth is that you need to train your children to accept disappointments, denials, and refusals. Modern life is not only competitive but also stressful in many aspects. Children have to gradually adapt themselves to this demanding environment at some point of time.

I have seen children throwing a tantrum, rolling on the floor/road, and crying at the top of their voices in demanding something that they want. Even worse, the parents, instead of telling them to stop the tantrum, enjoy it and give the child what (s)he is asking for.

Yes, it is difficult to see your child hurt, but is it better that your child is hurt when you are around make them understand in private and also to lend them morale support. This is exactly why parents need to train their young ones to go through denials and disappointments and allow them to learn to arise from the setbacks. Children must be taught to take a no, not only from parents but also friends, teachers, neighbours, and even strangers.

  • Refuse without saying no: First start without saying a no to your child. We don’t have to sound negative all the time. Now, how do you refuse without saying a no? When you 4-year old child picks a chocolate, you immediately say a no!!  Why don’t you rephrase the statement a bit?

Avoid: No chocolate before lunch/dinner.
Here it sounds as though you are refusing the chocolate though you only mean to say no chocolate before the meal; can be had later.

Better: You can have the chocolate after lunch/dinner.
Here it sounds as though you are allowing the child to have the chocolate. Here, even though you mean to say no chocolate before the meal, that is left unsaid.

  • Let them decide: Most of the kids are not interested in doing home work. Instead they either want to play or watch something on TV. Parents end up pushing them to do the homework and the adamant child keep refusing to do it. Most of the tie, the child ends up hating to do the home work. The best thing is to give them an option and let them decide.

Avoid: First do your homework and then play.

Better: Decide what you want to do—-play for half an hour and then do your homework or do your homework now and then watch your favorite cartoon show?

The child will probably decide the latter.  By offering them an option, you help your children feel like they have some power over the situation. They also feel that they have the right to make the decision. For kids uptill five years of age, this also encourages them to make simple choices and develop a sense of independence and competence.

  • Never satisfy all demands: All parents derive immense satisfaction from fulfilling all the wishes of their children. It makes them feel that they are good parents. Remember, prevention is better than cure. As parents, you should deliberately leave some wishes unfulfilled. If every whim and fancy of the children is entertained and fulfilled, they will grow up to be a very self-centered person. They will also not value what they have, they will want more.

    If they don’t learn to take rejection at a little age, even small rejection at school will hurt them to a large extent.  If someone at school (may be a friend) does not reciprocate their feelings, they may get depressed or even violent. If they are not selected for a school event, they feel a sense of humiliation. Such children will not be able to take disappointments in the right spirit and there are chances that they become prone to acute depression.

  • Discipline begins at home: Some parents tend to pamper children unreasonably. Abundance of anything, ranging from toys, games, sweets and chocolates, spoils children at a very young age. Research has shown that children brought up in affluent families, where their needs are taken care of often tend to lose their power of imagination.

    They have too much on their platter that it becomes difficult for them to yearn for anything. Therefore, parents should not bombard their children with more than what is actually needed. The need for this inherent discipline has to be first followed by the parents themselves. Only then will you be prepared to prepare your children for the rough and the smooth in life.

  • Never encourage comparisons: Parents should always discourage their child’s tendency to compare his or her material assets with other children. For instance, if your child demands a toy because a neighbour has got a new one, you need not buy one for your child. You need to explain why such a craving should not be entertained. If you don’t curb this tendency at a very early stage, such children will end up constantly comparing themselves with other people.
  • Don’t try to please the kids: In order to keep their daily routine hassle-free, parents tend to please children. Remember the times you have said, “Don’t disturb me now, go watch TV instead.” The policy does not pay in the long run. When you want to stop the child form watching TV, they will not listen to you. However, over appeasement has short-term gains. Children lose respect for their parents. Therefore parents must have the courage to call a spade a spade.
  • Never give in out of guilt: Some parents tend to please their children out of guilt. They are ready to do anything for their children to get rid of their own guilt. These days the children are smart enough to know the reason behind the bribe and use it to their advantage. Therefore, parents should not let guilt get better of them. Instead they must have the courage to face the child’s tantrums and let them know that they cannot get everything they ask for.

For example: A working mother who comes home late may be harried. She may not have time for attending to the child’s homework. If the child asks for an ice cream after dinner, chances are that the mother will give in despite knowing the fact that an ice cream can cause a bad throat.

Always Practice What You Preach

Like father, like son. You must have heard this phrase very often. It is very true that there is a tendency for children to grow up to be a lot like their parents. Physical attributes, looks, mannerisms, temperaments, and even habits can be alike. The two main factors that are responsible for these are the genes and the environment. Parents pass on the genes to the children. Hence, genes are the factors that can affect their physical traits and behavior (positively or negatively) to an extent. You can do nothing much to control the genetics part. But you surely can focus on the environment to make sure that your children grow up to be the best they can be. What you say and how you act, behave, and react and in their presence say a lot about what they would grow up to be. So you better watch out your own behavior.

We often talk about disciplining our children. But as parents, we should realize that before disciplining them, we should first discipline ourselves. “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.” said Clarence B. Kelland. This stands good for all the parents. Children learn a great deal about behavior and character by watching, observing, and following your behavior. Hence, don’t try to get them to follow the “do as I say, not as I do” approach. It will not work! Remember, kids may or may not listen to your words, but they always pay attention to your actions. Studies have shown that children who show disrespect to others usually have an adult role model at home—either you or your spouse, or both. Before you lash out or blow your top in front of your children, think if that is how you want your children to behave when they are angry.

We are parents, but we are also human. We also make mistakes, but we should be quick learners and learn from others mistakes too. Most of the time our kids do not make a bad situation worse, it is us who do it. If we are good parents and want to set a good example, admit that you made a mistake—first to yourself and then to your children. Then try to set it right.  Agreed, it is not simple as you may think it to be. To achieve this means that you should be a person of strong character, with no trace of false ego. You can always tell your son to remain calm every time he feels like screaming and shouting when he sees some one, specially his younger sibling meddling with his gadgets. But controlling your own anger when he does something you don’t approve is a challenge that you should first take on. When your son sees you react in that particular situation, he will know that can do the same. When you expect him to remain calm, he might listen to you because he has seen you do that very often.

I clearly remember an incident which took place when my daughter was six. I had come back from office a bit too tired. There were a lot of things going on in my mind regarding work, a really tense situation. I was overseeing my daughter’s studies. In between she got up and started doing something else. I all my frustration, I screamed at her and told her that she was being irresponsible and said some things about good and disciplined approach. She looked at me, picked her books, and went to her room. In a while I calmed down and was upset with myself for my outburst and behaviour.

After about half an hour my little one came to me with a glass of water and asked me if I felt better? I felt so ashamed at that moment. I took the glass of water, took a few sips, hugged her and apologized to her. I said, “I think I am tired and I over reacted. I am sorry for my behavior.” Very calmly, she told me, “That’s ok mom, you usually get angry when you are tired and stressed. Today, you were probably too tired and very stressed out.”   

I told her that irrespective of what I felt, I should have controlled my feeling. I actually carried my professional burden into my house and spoiled the calmness there.  I told her that I should not have done it.

I have heard some parents say, “So what? I am the parent, I shall do what I want to, but you are still a child and have to behave like one.” What rubbish? There is no worse way to mislead your children and steer them into wrong behavior yourself. You can’t teach your sons to drink responsibly if they see a drunken dad who drinks anytime of the day saying that he gets alcohol out of his own money. How can you impart the lesson of calming down when you yourself scream and shot for trivial reasons? You cannot tell your kids to respect their elders when you are constantly picking fights with your in-laws. But accepting your mistake and apologizing for your misbehavior sets and example to your children and teaches them to do the same.

If you really want to see a positive change in your kid, then you first have to begin working on your own transformation. The characteristic of a role model is to practice what you preach and set an example for your kids. Sometimes, as parents we often make the mistake of not listening properly, jumping to conclusions, and making hasty decisions. Most of the time, our children suffer because of it. Think of the traits you wish to cultivate in your child—respect, friendliness, honesty, kindness. Exhibit these behavior yourself—express thanks, offer compliments, tell truth. Above all, treat your children the way you expect other people to treat you.

So in short, what should good parents do?

  • When you make a mistake:
    • Don’t lie about it.
    • Don’t ignore it like it didn’t happen.
    • Don’t cover it up.
    • Don’t justify saying that you are a parent.
  • Don’t throw a temper tantrum.
  • Take responsibility for your own actions.
  • Try to make amends for the wrong.
  • Maintain a calm respectful disposition.

When parenting, practice what you preach and the results will be a lot better.

Making Time for Your Children: Guidelines

Parents start bonding with their kids right from the time they know that they are going to have a baby. It becomes even stronger when they see the ultrasound images of the foetus and listen to the heartbeat. For the mother it becomes even stronger as the child grows in the womb for 9 months. The unknown bond is formed, but the actual bonding in the world has to take place. As you know, relationships of any type take care, time, and effort to develop. Bonding with your kids as they grow, also requires, time, effort, and care.

  • Unplug: When the kids want to talk to you put away all the devices—phones and laptops and give them undivided attention. Give them your full attention for a while and then you as you get into the groove of the talk, you can do some activities (depending on the seriousness of the topic of discussion). Pick up tasks that don’t require your concentration so that you can listen to your kids. Be open to conversation about what is happening in their lives. This is how you can have productive conversation with your kids—when they want to speak. They won’t be in a mood to speak when you are in a mood to listen.
  • Have a family meal together: Setting aside time to sit down as a family and share a meal is very important. You must heard the saying, “Family that eat together stay together stay together.” Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging. It is also the perfect opportunity to teach your children appropriate table manners, meal etiquette, and social skills.Eliminate any distractions, such as the television, newspaper, or mobile so you can focus on having uninterrupted and some quality conversation.It may be difficult to always make it for dinner, but don’t let that stop you. Be creative. Maybe you can share breakfast and lunch on weekends instead. If you cannot make it for dinner, the family can have a special dessert time.
  • Turn off the TV: If you have your family meals (especially dinner) together, make it a habit to turn off the TV. You will be able to talk better and will allow you to focus on your meal and your conversation. Apart from distracting you, it also adds another level of noise and stress. Later, you may watch a particular show together. That will be an icing on the cake.
  • Watch TV with kids:  Make it a point to sit with the kids and watch TV along with them.  You will find that it far more enjoyable watching something which both you and your child can enjoy—laugh together, comment together, make fun together.  This is one of the easiest way to bond with the kids as they feel confident that even you can think at their level and can enjoy kiddies things. Then you can discuss the good and bad with your children.
  • Steal the Moments: You are busy. Your kids are busy. Your spouse is busy. All are busy. Most of the kids like talk with their parents, but there are some who have learnt that you are “always” busy and rather chat with someone else but you. So, you have to take advantage of opportunities to strike up a conversation with your children, even if you have to steal some moments to do it—in the car, before going to bed, while reading, while watching TV, during dinner, etc.
  • Reconnect during car drives: I have always observed that we have so many unexpected important conversations as we travel in the cocoon of our car. Even men who are usually quiet start talking. Use the car rides as a way to bond with the kids. Even if your kids are just chatting with each other, just listen to those little voices and enjoy them. You can sing silly songs, play oral word games, or just listen to them. The time in the car also offers a great chance to talk about various topics apart from studies—music, hobbies, friends, etc. Your children may not feel too comfortable sharing all of their thoughts during face-to-face conversation. When you are driving, you may find that your kids will never stop talking.
  • Limit kids activities: Learn to say no to over scheduling your child’s day. Limit to one after-school activity a day. Period. I know this restriction is much difficult for the parents than kids. You want your son to continue with the piano class, he really wants to continue with the cricket coaching, he is doing very well in tennis. How do you choose? All these activities build skills and give the children a sense of what they can do. But time spent with family gives them a sense of who they are.
  • Limit your activities:  As a parent, you too have your limits. Imagine this scenario. Working parents, the child comes back from school to an empty house. The parents come back home in the evening, but it is activity time for the kids and the mother (gym time). Mother is comes back home with the child. Dad is busy in some work related meeting. The mother wants to freshen up and get some rest while the child does his/her homework. Mother is happy, has her dinner at 8.00pm. The child has dinner at 9.00 pm. Dad does not eat before 10.30 pm.Simply put, you cannot be there for the child when you are busy with your activities.  The rituals that build a sense of closeness, bedtime stories, cuddles in front of the fire or a favorite TV show can’t happen when parents use the house as a stop-over place from work. Taking time for yourself and looking after your health is also important, but take care and effort to keep yourself free when your child is free and do activities when he/she is busy.
  • Do activities together: Instead of doing activities separately, do them together. Order for take home dinner, relax, enjoy good (read fun) food and do some activities or play games together. In this era where it is difficult to say a friend form a foe, it is good to have some sense of security and happiness at home. Remember, home and family is our fortress, our best protection from the outside tension.

Try to do a hobby with your child that you both can enjoy together. There is nothing better than spending time with your child doing something that you both love. It does not matter which hobby you sharepainting, reading, playing some games, etc. The real goal is to just have time to bond together.

  •  Schedule time for your children’s activities: You might not be interested in attending the school concert and watch a school play or dance sequences. You might in doing something else more important to you or more appealing to you. But remember, for your child, your presence in their school events, irrespective of whether they are participating in it or not, is more important than anything else.Actually, your presence demonstrates to them that they are important to you more than other things. Give it a thought, is your meeting really more important than the excitement and good will your child feels when they see you in the crowd? If you hurt your child by not attending such events just because you are not interested and don’t even feel upset about it, you are either a sadist or mentally sick. You should not wait for your child to ask you if you will be attending. Infact, you should confirm your attendance when you child tells you about the event. This builds a feeling of dependable trust in your child. Mark their events on your calendar and treat their events just as you would treat your important meetings.
  •  Involve your children for errands:  Make it a habit to take your children along when you run errands, or get grocery.While your kids might not always want to run errands, you can spend some great time shopping together. Involving them is such activities will build their self esteem, confidence and independence.
  • Access flexibility at work: If you have flexible working hours (as it is in most of the IT companies), try to start your work day earlier so you can get home around the time your child is back from school. Flexible schedules are a great way to make some quality time to be with your kids. In addition, if you have the work from home option, do that when required. Remember these options are given at work so that you can balance your work and professional life.

Making Time for Your Children: Healthy Bonding

Bonding with your children is of importance for their overall wellbeing—physical, emotional, and psychological. It makes a child feel asense of being loved, independence, and security. It is also mutually benefitting because your child learn about your values, beliefs, and expectations. On the other hand, you learn more about your child. This is the best way to nurture their growth and your relationship.

With so many demands on your time, it is often difficult for you to get together with your children for a family meal, let alone spend some quality time together. However, you can put in some conscious effort and follow some methods to build a natural, healthy, loving, and positive bond with your child:

  • Communicate: Talk to your child as much as possible. Make sure there is plenty of communication between you. You need not make an appointment to sit to talk. You can talk to them as you cook, do the laundry, fold the clothes, do the bed—you just need to figure out when. Even when you are doing these activities, give some attention to them and speak in a loving and caring manner, not as though you are doing them a favour.
  • Undivided attention: Spend quality time with your children. Don’t do any activity when they talk to you. When your child talks to you, sit down with your child, make eye contact, and if possible hold your child tenderly and affectionately. In short, give undivided attention to your children when they try communicating with you.
  • Listen to problems: Listen to your child’s problems. Some of them may seem very trivial to you, but do not laugh or tell them to forget about it. Remember it IS a problem for your child. It will mean a lot to them if you pay attention to it as well. Offer sympathy, support, and offer suggestions to overcome it. Remember, sometimes children take a lot of time and courage to express some of their problems with their parents. Ensure to be there when they want to talk with you. If there is really a problem, you can help them. After a later stage when your kids realize that it was not a problem at all, you can discuss it and laugh about it.
  • Say Yes: Instead of saying, “shall get back to you in 5 minutes”, you should say “shall listen to you for 5 minutes”. As a rule, when your child wants to talk to you, stop doing whatever you are doing—working on laptop, talking on phone, even house hold work. Talk to them—give them the first 5 minutes to judge the seriousness of the matter— if they are just telling you about some routine school activities, you may get back to your household chores where in your concentration is still on what they are saying.

If you think the topic is more important (to them, not to you), give full attention. For all you know it is an attempt where the child has gathered courage to talk to you about some serious issue.  Don’t tell the child to wait and teach them tolerance. It is something the parents need to have in the first place. Many suicides could have been prevented by giving a listening ear to the children at the right time.

  • Be there for them: Provide support (emotional or otherwise) and confidence to your children when they face the ruthless realities of life. Children are often scared and concerned about their future. They repeatedly require assurance and reassurance. If as parents, you cannot provide them support and confidence, who else can? If you case you can’t don’t do anything to help them, don’t do anything to strip off the little confidence they already have in them.
  • Don’t ignore: With our busy lives, instead focusing 100% of our attention on what our child is saying to us, we are often thinking about other things. Some parents often pretend to listen to their kids, or tell to talk while they are busy working on their laptops. Some parents just ignore their child’s attempts to communicate with them.

Somehow, I feel extremely sorry for such parents. In their timeless and egoistic life style, they themselves throttle the enthusiasm and confidence of their own children.  If you don’t give time for your children, they will often start to misbehave. Can you then blame the child for misbehaving? No way!! If parents can’t do their work of parenting, they have no right to find faults in their children. Remember, for a child, negative attention is better than being ignored.

  • Appreciate: Do not expect your childen to behave like adults and do not expect too much from them. This may frustrate you both. If your child gets 70% marks, appreciate it, and motivate him/her to do better.  Also, appreciate the things that your child does best—music, dance, sports, arts, etc. If you feel that your child is really intelligent and can easily get 80% marks, give positive encouragement and support and let them know you are there for them. But don’t push the child too much.
  • Play games:Play games with your children. Play games that your children are interested in and is at their level of ability and understanding. Try to introduce different types of games, instead of playing the same thing all over again.
    • Sometimes play games that will help in their development.
      Example: Scrabble improves vocabulary,  monopoly makes them understand finance related matters, Scotland yard makes them think in a structured manner, pictionary makes them think creatively
    • Sometimes play game just for the heck of it: ludo, snake and ladder, etc.

Making Time for Your Children: The Importance

These days, time is an uncommon commodity. People seem to have money, but barely any time. Parents are first busy making their careers, and then in stepping up the corporate ladders, and then maintaining their status. They barely have time for themselves or for their kids. This is an era when people decide against having children because they feel that cannot spare time for the child. Good. But when you have kids, ensure to make time for them!

As parents you feel the need to work very hard to provide for your children. You want to make sure that the kids not only have the necessities, but also things and comforts you didn’t have when you were children. There is nothing wrong with that. But, you need to know that the children actually look forward to spending time with you, talking you about their school activities, their ambitions and desires, discussing their problems and seeking your advice.  On the other hand, most parents feel that spending time with the child while eating or watching TV together is enough. However, quality time involves more than just an hour a day of sitting side by side—it does not allow time or communication for in-depth bonding.

Bonding time is the time where you as a parent can show your child things, do fun activities, school-work, and even discuss about values. Going to a park, gaming centre, movie, or to eat out does not essentially create bonding time. True, but spending quality time with a child doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. Some of the best quality time can be spent doing regular, day-to-day activities, with your full attention. It is less important what you do for your kids, it’s more important that you do it together.

Why is this bonding time important?

Bonding is all about unconditional love for your children which develops an emotional connection between you and them. The way you treat and behave with your children establishes a sense of security, comfort and closeness between the two of you.  Kids sense a feeling of comfort and safety with parents who are ready to sit and listen to them. Then, they feel comfortable sharing all their problems and issues with you—their parents—who they grow to believe and trust. This sense of trust and security is really very important.

When a child does not get to spend time with their parents, they constantly get mixed signals regarding right and wrong. What the maid or the babysitter may consider to be right might be wrong for you. Hence, there will be a substantial difference between your values and the values of your kids. Hence, you have to make an effort to spend time with your kids, talk to them, ensure that they get the right values from you so that you both can later communicate at the same level.

When the kids are in their pre-teens or teens, most of the time, parents feel that kids have grown up and no longer require the time or attention they required as a child. This is a wrong notion. The adolescents actually need your undivided attention. This is the time when they are confused, have low self esteem, and unstable confidence. Hence, you should do your best to be available when your teen-aged children express a desire to talk to you or spend time with you.

By telling a child (irrespective of the age) you love them, you can foster their confidence and perception of themselves. Give frequent, but heart-felt compliments or positive feedback. By listening and being supportive of their ideas, even if you don’t agree, makes them feel as if they can come to you with their problems. They feel comfortable in discussing their true feelings and their greatest problems with you. Such kids cannot be blackmailed by the others because these kids know they can share their problems with their parents.

 A good relationship with your children, based on quality time versus quantity time, on a regular basis serves a variety of purposes.

  • It establishes a secure and emotional attachment between you and the children. It helps the child-parent relationship to grow and blossom.
  • It helps in the growth and development of self-esteem, confidence, and maturity in the children.
  • The feeling of how important they are to you is reinforced time and again. The children will not find the need to throw tantrums for attention. Children who do not get the attention they want from you often misbehave because they are assured of being noticed.
  • It helps children reach their potential and grown into well-adjusted and confident adults.
  • When they need attention or help, the children know they can get it from you. So, they don’t have to look for it from wrong people at wrong places.
  • They will be confident in their relationship with you, which in turn will give them the confidence to go out into the world and build new and positive relationships.
  • Children who are raised in loving, nurturing, positive, and happy environments are likely to be well-adjusted, secure, and more confident than their counterparts.

Poor bonding results in poor communication which can create a sense of sadness, dissatisfaction, confusion, restlessness, and fear in the child. Poor communication with children can also lead to your children getting into dangerous activities like drinking alcohol, doing drugs, having unprotected sex and unhealthy relationships.

Hence, throw away your ego and unrealistic priorities in life and bond with your children instead of seeting them in a wrong path!!

How Far to Push Your Kids: Part II (Guidelines)

Here are some guidelines you need to follow to ensure that you don’t push your kids too far.

  • Whose dreams? Is your child doing an activity because he/she is passionate about it and love it, or is it your dream and passion that you are trying to fulfill through your kids? If your child complains about the activity and seems to be unhappy, it is time to consider another alternative, even if you want him/her to continue with it. Most of the time, you end up enrolling your little kids for activities, you were interested in, but could not learn it yourself.

As a parent, I wanted my daughter to learn carnatic music and earn a name for herself in lawn tennis. My daughter did not have interest in either. She chose dance. Though both me and my husband are not remotely interested in dance and cannot shake a leg to save our lives, our daughter has earned a name for herself as a good dancer and I am proud of that fact. Carnatic music and lawn tennis went for a toss. My daughter is happy with her dance related activities and I am happy seeing her happiness and her achievements.

Remember, you and your child are to separate individuals—you will have different dreams, aspirations, and interests. When are you happy the most? When you can follow your dreams and fulfill them. The same applies for your children as well.

  • Be satisfied: As human beings, we are never happy with what we have. Most of the parents fall into this category, especially as far as their kids are concerned.  If the child gets 70% marks, parents want the child to try for 80%. If the child gets 80%, they want the child to aim for 90%.It is true that you will achieve success only if reach for more. This need for more can be done in moderation if the child really has the potential to perform better and is basically lazy and careless. Don’t expect too much from your child and force them to perform much beyond their reach. Yes, it good to excel, but try to get your children to excel in the areas of their interest and in the areas where their passion lie. Once they taste success, they themselves might want to perform better in the other areas as well. Help them succeed, don’t push them to succeed.
  • Check natural strengths: As parents, you need to get a little more sensible and smart. You have to closely observe the interests and the natural strengths of the children.  Then, encourage the kids and give them ample support to develop and excel in those areas. Success from natural talents brings enjoyment and confidence in a child. Pushing the  children to be something they are not is not good. Instead, it is good to be encouraging and giving little pushes when required.
  • Check personality type: It is very important that the parents recognize the personality style of their child. Every child does not fall under the same category. Nor should they. Some parents may want their kids to be more outgoing, the center of attention, a total extrovert where as the child may be just the opposite. Wanting is fine, but pushing the child hard to adapt an entirely different personality is not the right thing to do. Many a times, the children do what the parents want them to, only to please them—they don’t want to disappoint their parents and want to be appreciated for their efforts. Trying to be what they are not, results in severe depression and anxiety. The children then become very confused as they find it very difficult to understand who they really are.
  •  Do the balancing act: Getting children involved in some extra-curricular activities can be beneficial to them. Initially allow them experience different activities (dance, music, keyboard, guitar, drawing, tennis, swimming, skating, etc.). Then let the kids themselves decide what they truly enjoy being a part of and love doing the best. From the list, choose two or maximum three activities based on the frequency of the activity in a week and the stamina of your child.
  • Give a gentle push:It is true that some children need to be pushed in a certain direction. In such cases, it is undoubtedly your job to mold your children and guide them. Sometimes forcing them into certain sports might turn out to be the best thing for them, which might change their life for the better. Team sports are good for your children, as it makes them disciplined, and helps them loose all the energy they have.

    My daughter started attending dance classes from the age of 5, but she never participated in any dance activities that were conducted in our housing society. According to her performance required a hall with a proper stage and lightings. She did not consider performing in the open as a performance. I had to push her to make her first performance in the society function. She had to learn that there is nothing like big and small stage for performing.

    When she was 9, I gave her an ultimatum, either she performs at the society function or she should discontinue her dance class. She naturally chose the former with the condition that it would be the first and last time she performs at the society. She performed, it as well received, people appreciated her, and called her a good dancer. They next year, when the function as announced she came to me to ask my opinion and suggestions regarding what dance she should performance. There has been no stopping after that. Apart from performing, she also started teaching dance to some kids in the society—infact I sometimes feel the urge to pull her back a bit.

  • Don’t call names: The kids usually end up doing what the parents which them to. Else, they are called lazy, dumb, useless, or stupid. Thus, the children are usually psychologically abused by their own parents—this is probably not intentional.
  • Children are not trophies: These days, all the young parents want to show off their kids as a trophy.

My son stood first in the class
My daughter came second in the dance competition
My son stood second in swimming.
Our son is the school head boy.

 Some parents also feel that they are not being good parents if their kids do not participate is all kinds of activities. Children are thus under pressure to achieve, to be competitive, and to win. Relax! Children are children, not your trophies. If your neighbor’s son comes first in his class, it does not mean that even your son should. If another neighbor’s daughter wins a swimming competition, it does not mean that you should try to make your daughter a swimmer as well.

  • Don’t over exert: Don’t push your children into all those activities you are interested in or could never do yourself. Give them the suitable options based on their liking and then allow them to make the decision regarding what they want to do.

 Tanmay enjoys cricket. He goes for tennis class, music class, and also goes for cricket coaching class.  He does not mind the pressure associated with practice and games (both cricket and tennis). On the other hand, cricket is Arjun’s  passion and obsession. He cannot think about anything else. His father is a swimmer and his mother wants him to learn tennis. Hence, he goes for swimming and  tennis coaching class as well.  But unlike Tanmay,  Arjun is not able to enjoy all these classes. Since cricket is his passion, he wants to focus only on cricket. He is overwhelmed being involved in other activities which do not interest him at all. He wanted to concentrate only on cricket. The other activities did not allow him to do it!!

  • Don’t sweet coat: Some parents actually understand what they are doing is wrong. They give examples of the other parents who push their kids and show concern for those kids, but when it comes to their own, they have a perfect answers:
      • My daughter loves all those activities. She becomes sad when we talk about taking her off a class, so we allow her to attend all those she wants to.
      • My son is very energetic. All these activities keep him occupied.

If your child wants to do six activities, it is your duty to help the child prioritize and make a choice. The truth is, you are allowing them to do these activities because you really want them to do those activities. Am I right?

Never force your children to study a certain career because you like it or could never complete it yourself. Let them recognize their own career path. You have to be around to guide them, to help them, and honestly answer their questions and queries. If you don´t know what to answer, you can investigate from reliable sources and ask your kids to investigate by themselves as well. Then you can take a well thought about decision.

You should understand that a child’s ability to succeed in life does not depend on the well-intentioned efforts of the parents. It depends on the capability, interest, passion, the thought, and the personality type of the child. You might want your son to become a doctor, but if his interest lies in machines, let him become a mechanical engineer. Okay, you need to teach your children, the importance of taking part in competitions and being competitive to survive in this world. But the drive to perform at unrealistically high levels may make the kids anxious, depressed, unhealthy, stressed, embittered, resentful, and exhausted. This may foster indifference, self-centeredness and false senses of entitlement.

We all know that parenting is not easy. Children don’t come with a user manual, but it is always rewarding to see your children achieve what they really want. If you really want your kids to be successful in life, you should first teach the kids moral values and ethics. You should also teach your  children to be resilient and independent.