“I wish parenting came with a manual or one style that would solve all parenting issues”; this is probably the most commonly heard statement of new parents who always want the best for their children. Parenting is not a destination that we have to reach, it is a journey that we are bestowed in our life as parents. Why is there The Urgent Need For Understanding Child Psychology?
Sometimes we fall, sometimes we learn, sometimes we are exhausted, sometimes we are grateful, sometimes we are perfect! Throughout this journey one thing that should stay constant as parents is the desire to make ourselves better and progress with our children as they grow. This would mean facing our inner demons, challenging our weaknesses and rising above our strengths to raise confident and kind children for the future. But how often do we seriously reflect on our parenting practices and their impact on our child’s growth?
In one of his recent articles about parenting, spiritual master Sadhguru makes a statement, “Parenting is a 20-year project if your children turn out good, if not it is a lifelong project.” He also suggests that we should only take up this project if we are truly ready for this long commitment, and it requires a huge transformation as individuals within ourselves. How thought provoking are these words!
A child who comes in our life is absolutely naive and totally dependent on us for his survival and future success in every aspect of life. Isn’t this a really big responsibility then?
Understanding the way in which a child develops and makes meaning of this life is crucial to make this journey a memorable one for both the parents and children. And one parenting style would not be suitable for everyone as each child is born unique and special. How best to nurture this uniqueness is the biggest challenge of parents in today’s fast-paced technological times.
There is a plethora of research done by neuroscientists and psychologists which reveal that the effects of the attachment bonds shared by the children with their primary caretakers during their formative years of childhood play a remarkable role in their future relationships and achievements in life.
Children do not learn by listening, as much as they do from imitation. The bonds we form with them, how we connect with them, how we behave and respond to various emotions are all being registered by our kids as they watch us. When a child experiences belittling and dismissal during his childhood, he will often tend to be insecure and judgemental; whereas the one growing with unconditional love and acceptance will exhibit positive self-esteem leading to fulfilling relationships in future.
In his book ‘Unconditional Parenting’ author Alfie Kohn argues that the single most need of a child is to be loved unconditionally so that he knows he is accepted and loved irrespective of his actions and behaviour. When deeply reflected, it indicates that creating an environment free of prejudice, filled with respect and love needs a major paradigm-shift in the parenting techniques that we might have been brought up in the past. And this is often the most neglected aspect or difficult part to accept for adults as parents. This is not to say that we are parenting our children in an inappropriate manner. But, understanding the dynamics of child development and impacts of parenting styles on them makes it more effective and a satisfying experience rather than ending up with frustrations and power struggles.
The society we live in also has a considerable effect on our parenting practices. It sometimes creates a barrier and restricts us to behave in a certain manner with our children which is unknowingly hampering the very well-being of our children. For example, parents often choose to react rather than respond with patience to the meltdowns and tantrums of the children (especially in public). It is important at this stage to decipher the need and the reason behind the behaviour of the children and not focus on meeting our need of being able to appear competent in the eyes of the strangers around us. In his article “What makes a terrific parent”, Alfie Kohn brilliantly mentions the three closely related features of high-quality parents.
1) Acknowledging and respecting the uniqueness in the needs of your children and understanding it to be distinct from your own
2) Learning everything about nurturing this uniqueness and the needs according to their development
3) Acting on and staying committed to meeting those needs whenever possible.
It requires a high-level of self-reflection, thoughtful consideration to understanding the growth of our children and staying in task with them throughout the journey. It needs practice, takes time but is certainly an enriching and nourishing experience at both ends. This also facilitates the children to be a contributing part of the journey and not just do what we want them to do as their responses and gestures offer an assurance to us as parents to stay committed and bring authenticity and depth to this beautiful bonding with us.
It is imperative to find some time in our busy schedules to know more about the influence of our parenting techniques and hence learn more about how it feels to not just be in the children’s shoes but also have their feet. Their childhood days may seem longer but the years will pass by soon, which cannot be relived in our lives. A comprehensive knowledge of their developmental years and a little more conscious parenting will be a great deal of investment for their future accomplishments.
As parents we all do want the best and wish success for all the endeavours of our children. Although we cannot (and should not) control their life, we can definitely lay a good foundation of life skills into them during these fundamental years which will help them lead a happy and confident life.