It is true that, child’s mind is like dough of clay which can be moulded according to our wish, so we need to mould their behaviours since childhood itself. There are three promises that every parent needs to make to become more successful. Promise to have courage – to be open & accept new ideas. If, what you are doing is working, stick with it. If not, then have the courage to try something new. Promise to have patience – plenty of patience. Child needs time to change, this is where we lose. We have gone from a few hours to 4 minutes photo, microwave dinners,telephone booths to cell phones which have conditioned us to expect instant gratification. Technology has taught us impatience. We believe that because we are trying a new idea, change should take place overnight. A few days time is not enough to test a new idea. Some methods may take weeks to show improvement.
Promise to practise – every parent must practise what they preach. My child does not care a bit that I am a health professional who takes care of other children’s health. When I am home, I am a mother. I get tested just like other parents. There is no magic wand to make the things happen. What can be done to modify the child’s behaviour?
Children have tendency to continue behaviour when it is rewarded & stop behaviour when it is ignored; of course, consistency in parents reaction to behaviour is important because rewarding & punishing the same behaviour at different times confuses the child. Parents should learn to differentiate between normal & abnormal behaviour at each age & developmental stage.
Physical punishment is less effective. Hence the useful strategy is to make them realize through stories that bad behaviour is not tolerated & good behaviour is rewarded. These are the learning skills that will come in good stead in parenting.
This is the proper age when a few good habits can be cultivated in them like personal hygiene & study pattern. One should be organised well. Here there is no proper explanation for ‘like father like son’ because the habits are not inherited but the behaviour which is daily observed and undertaken becomes a habit. Hence at times parents need to change their bad habits for their children.
Studies, competition, achievements, failures are inevitable things in life. So, to cope-up with these & face them boldly is necessary to get happiness which is long lasting in life.
Along with this, proper eating habits, regular exercise & entertainment patterns should be practised in the family itself because what children observe in other family members they start copying the same. They should be encouraged to watch edutainment programmes rather than horror shows or violence. As far as possible, parents or grand parents should together watch shows & provide transitional remarks like, ‘well acted’, ‘well done’ and ‘skilfully conveyed the difference between reel & real life’ etc. Children should be provided with proper explanation for the situation whenever needed and thus ‘power struggle & no- win’ situation can be avoided. Parents should praise their child often when they deserve it. But let the children know where they have gone wrong and avoid criticizing in front of their peer and other people.
Some stubborn children take more time & test parent’s patience to change their behaviour. Still parents should continue reward system rather than punishment & maintain dossier of behaviours to see the gradual change in the child’s behaviour
After all, parents need to persevere as their children truly need them for a few years; these years do pass & most children survive to flourish.
Dr. Mrs Prajakta Kaduskar
Consultant in Adolescent Paediatrics
Dr. Ajay Kaduskar
Dr. Mrs. Prajakta A. Kaduskar