Yesterday, we were going through our yearly ritual of arranging the pictures and videos of our family on my laptop. I had asked my family photographer (they existed a decade ago!) to send me all the videos he had recorded over the last two decades so that I could store them in my laptop. I received many videos of my daughter from the time she learnt to talk, walk or hold a ball.
One video caught my attention where she must be around three years and she was trying to play badminton with me and my mother.
She tries to hit the shuttle cock with the racket. She sits down and puts the cock in the centre of the oval racket. She stands up balancing the racket and tries to bounce the shuttle by moving the racket.
I move towards her and show her the right way of doing it. I give verbal instructions also to the three year old who was trying to figure out the shuttle cock and the racket.
After two-three minutes, she is able to hit the cock with her racket a bit – she shrieks and jumps with joy. She is thrilled “It happened, it happened”, is what she repeats as she jumps.
“Don’t shout so much!” I tell her.
Not only this, I tell her to try more.
As the video ended, I was so angry with myself. I felt like giving a mouthful to myself.
How callous of me to try to teach stuff to a three year old, spoiling her exploratory journey and putting her down.
How brutal of me to tell her not to shout when she genuinely wanted to.
I was a young, unexperienced foolish Mom like many of us here who sadly believe that they know how to raise kids. Some of us like to advice and admonish, like me, all the time.
Some of us like to scare and scrutinise them.
As parents, we have all the right and some capability to encourage & guide them but we need to learn how and when to do it.
How many times do we try to bend down to the level of a child? We speak the same adult language to them to make them understand our viewpoint. The hurried tone, the eagerness to teach, the repetitive scanning of habits is full of words, normal for adults but scathing for toddlers.
For children below three, can we shut up and observe?
Can we spend more relaxed time noticing their actions, their reactions? Can we lovingly show rather than tell?
I wish I had someone who could tell my immature self to be less verbal and more loving with my three year old.
We need to reach to their level and talk only as much as they understand. Do the actions and they will follow.
As our children grow up, we tend to advise them every now and then. There is nothing wrong in guiding them but most of us actually try to instil fear in them through our advices.
“If you do not study well, then you do not get your cycle.”
“If you don’t get selected, you will not be successful.”
“If you do not make it to the top schools, you will disappoint us.”
We keep sprinkling such sentences in our conversations from the early childhood and the damaging outcomes are seen much later.
Can we observe our child and notice his skills.
Academic Skills – What does he enjoy reading? Does he ask questions? Which subjects is he/she repulsive to?
Social Skills – Does he feel comfortable in groups? How does he/she handle peer pressure? Do they try to fit in or hold their ground? Do they like to lead or get led?
Creative Skills – Check their disposition towards design thinking, exploring products or ideas. Do they get fascinated by automobiles or computers or cooking?
Artistic Skills – Observe them closely to see if they like to sing or dance or draw or paint or play. Do they take to sun or water or exercising?
Spiritual Skills – Notice if they like to pray or stay silent? Observe their moments of complete focus.
Physical Skills – Notice their physiological strengths and their agility. Expose them to various sports to see if they take to any of them.
Emotional Skills – Observe your children to see what makes them happy, irritated, sad, scared, frustrated, playful or angry.
Our observing skills are more important than our oral skills in the first decade of our child’s development.
During the teenage, our over confidence with respect to our children can be fatal.
“I know you very well”.
“You are not trying enough”.
“We have sacrificed so much for you”
These are some sentiments of parents which are largely untrue.
We hardly know what is going on inside the minds and hearts of our children unless we give them complete confidence that they can come back to us come what may.
Since they are scared of our responses to their choices, they hide the wishes of their heart from us. In the process, they drift away slowly but our over confident selves continue in denial, firmly believing that we know our children well.
Try to remember all the things, all the statements of parents that hurt you as a teenager. Ascertain that you are not hurting your children in the same way.
We need not have rigid career expectations from them because they can make a career out of so many avenues available in different fields.
I saw the amazing photography by a young wedding photographer who left his MNC job to start his photography start up. He is happy to be known as a celebration photo shoot expert which was unheard of two decades ago.
Shut up and listen to your children’s songs which they might be nurturing secretly. Don’t sing for them or handover the lyrics to them. Give them the courage to write their own songs and compose their own music from their heart.
Shut up and learn their language. Speak your mind without being judgemental. We expect our children to listen to us and obey us. But we are their companions, their well-wishers, not their bosses. “Don’t talk back”, “Don’t argue” are our favourite comments once they grow up. Parents equate disagreement with disrespect which becomes painful.
We can surely disagree without disrespecting the other person. Our children are not our clones. We must celebrate their uniqueness and let them be.
Love them, limit them but let them be.
I am an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller), Why Women Are What They Are, Come On! Get Set Go
I am running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.
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