Being a parent is no easy task. There can be no hard and fast rules which are to be followed. What your parents did may not hold good now. Mothers may find themselves using the ‘don’t’ word very often – don’t talk so loudly, don’t fight etc. However, psychologists believe that it is better to reinforce positive ideas instead of using negative thoughts. If we look at the parenting process from a child’s prospective, we can get clues as to how mothers can do even a better job.
A mother should be consistent. A child will try to talk you into something he wants like staying out late, playing instead of doing his home work or asking you to do his/her project. He may appeal to your sense of affection or pity and try to convince you to do as he asks. You should be firm and not give in to what you perceive to be incorrect. If you give in once, the child will try again and again to travel that route. You cannot say no once you have agreed to something earlier. To avoid a scene every now and then, make it clear to the child what you will or will not agree to and stick to it.
A mother should not shout. This may seem quite difficult. When a child does not obey or is bent on doing his own thing, a mother is likely to raise her voice to get her point through. Once this happens, it vitiates the atmosphere. The child sulks and you get agitated. To avoid the situation it is best that the whole family should sit together to discuss and frame some rules. These can be displayed where everyone can see them e.g. the living room or on the fridge. The consequences of not following these rules should be put up too.
Remember, these rules hold good for both parents and children. All these discussions must be done in a calm manner. When you see your child doing something against what is defined in the rules, calmly point out that rule to him. Following the rules or suffering the consequences will take some getting used to. Pretty soon it will lead to a more relaxed atmosphere in the home.
Do not encourage arguments. Once the rules are made, it should be clear that they have to be followed. If an exception is necessary, it can be discussed calmly. If an argument starts then a child may begin to feel that it is alright to argue with his mother. The child can put forward his view point but he should know that his parents have the final say. A child should be made aware of how much leeway will be given. If he wants to stay out for an extra hour you can say he will not come home by himself but you will pick him up. If homework is missed, he will be woken up an hour early to complete it.
Don’t compare your child with other children. Each child has his own personality and capability just like adults. It is not a good idea to evaluate his performance in the light of another child. Your neighbour’s child may be good at studies or athletics, or both, but that should be no reason to berate your child who may not excel at either. Someone else’s mother may be earning more or be a better cook than you and you would not like to be compared to her, so do not hold another child as an example to your child.
What you should do is to set acceptable standards for child’s performance and then motivate him to work towards that goal. His competition should be with himself so that he does better than the last time. Do not forget to praise him when he does well.
Avoid criticising your child excessively. If all a child hears are negative comments, he will not try to improve himself. No doubt, a parent has to tell a child what is wrong and what is right and mete out punishment for unacceptable behaviour, but try not to overdo it. Point out just one short coming at a time. A child should not feel that everything he does is wrong otherwise he will become low on confidence and lose faith in his abilities. He may transgress now and then so don’t label him as ‘always lazy’, ‘always rude’ or ‘always untidy’. Find something to praise in your child every day, no matter how small it is.
Try these tips and you will have a happy child who will be ready to listen to you always.