How to be a better parent

Simple dos and don'ts, so that you can be a better parent

Parents with kidParenting is a difficult task because, it is not a world of only black and white, but a million shades of grey. Every issue has two opposite courses of action to choose from, and neither of them seems wrong. Parents constantly live with a sense of guilt, for everything they do or not do. However, there are a few things which are definitely good, or definitely bad, for the child.

Let me list a few of them:

Ban television

This is the most tempting thing for mothers. You simply switch on the television and there will be no more tantrums, no sounds of things being broken and no more pestering. However, this momentary peace and quiet is causing serious damage to your child. Firstly, no matter how much you try to supervise, at some point they would stumble across something which is not suitable for their viewing. There is always a right time and place to learn and know things, so don’t let your child lose his innocence a little too early. Secondly, violence depicted in the television is not good for children to see, for what they see is what they do. You may be putting your child’s life in jeopardy. This thought may sound far-fetched now, but the day you walk in on your child with a kitchen knife, it might not seem so impossible. Thirdly, sitting in front of the television for long hours means total lack of physical exercise, which is not good for any age group.

Give them time

You may buy them expensive toys, or succumb to their every whim and fancy, but nothing can replace an hour of your day solely devoted to them. Play some music and dance; you would be amazed at how this relieves you of the entire day’s stress, not to mention the giggles and laughs you get out of your child. Everyday after dinner, instead of switching on the television do a jigsaw, play a board game or simply read them a story. Kids love listening to stories, and I am sure every parent enjoys doing those voices. Put them on your lap and read them a book. By doing this, you will be laying a foundation for a good reading habit.

Be the adult

Somehow, during the course of parenting you forget who the adult is in the relationship. You often end up being extremely childish when you show resent or reactions to disobedience. Being the adult does not mean having more numbers in age but means you are the mature one. You are the one with the duty and the ability to help them make a right choice. You should not have ego, lies and deceit on your side. You must give the child his space, and always a chance to explain or put forward his case. An adult respects the talent, choices and achievements of all, even his own children. You have to be an adult and not resort to lies and falsehood to support your case or wish. Also, being the adult means being patient. You have to be patient with their tantrums, tears, complains, failures and losses. Give them words of wisdom rather than words of sarcasm and anger. Always remember, violence is the last resort of the incompetent so before you lose your temper or raise that hand, ask yourself a question or two.

Physical exercise

Exercise is essential in their formative years, to make the child’s body supple, flexible and fit. The best way to achieve this is to take the kids out in the open. Play a game of football or cricket with them. The kids will run around, enjoy to the fullest, and get a complete workout too. Swimming is another activity, which gives your body good exercise, and you know how much fun it is for children to be in water. Just add a few floats and colourful balls, and your child will have more than his required quota of physical exercise for the day. Take them for hiking or a camping trip; it is good to be protective about children, but to make them tough and sturdy they must go through such supervised rigorous activities.

Video games and play stations tend to influence the psyche of the child and incite violence in them. On the other hand, sports give them a sense of camaraderie and team spirit, which is a very important lesson in life.

Make them work

You must encourage children to keep their room clean, help in the household chores and have their set of duties completed. This keeps the child busy and instead of creating havoc, he will be doing some quality work. Also, they will learn to be independent and responsible. Parents who use the phrase “Oh he is just a child” when it comes to work are doing more harm than good. It is never too early to start. If he is capable of picking up something and playing with it, then he is of course capable of putting it back in the right place after use. It is better to start now, rather than complaining on a later stage about the child’s attitude towards work.

Take them out

Leaving the kids behind without a reasonable cause is sad because they too deserve social interaction. Take them out – not just to parks or birthday parties, but also for buying vegetables, grocery shopping or any other simple chore. The more they step out of the house, the more learning is in store for them. You sit at home and show them pictures and flashcards to teach them about birds, plants and colours. Ever wondered how easy it is to take them out and just point those things to them. Take them for a play, to the circus or to a zoo and let them see and experience the world first hand, rather than through picture books.

Spare the junk

The next time you tell someone that your child eats only chips or that he cannot live without cola, leave the pride out of your voice and replace it with shame. It is very sad how a two-year-old toddler who has so much to experience in life has already experienced the worst of food. Please keep soft drinks, packaged and semi-processed food away from your child. Give them freshly cooked food, vegetables and fruits. If they crave for chocolates, give them some homemade desserts like halwa and kheer or maybe some dry fruits. Work a little more, cook a little more, do that for your child – do not just grab the first bag of chips you can lay your hands on.

Mind your language

Children follow by example, if there is something you want them to do, you have to first do it yourself. You expect your child to brush his teeth twice a day, but are you doing the same? In the same way, you cannot expect your child to be polite and refrain from using bad language if he does not see and hear the same at home. Does “thank you” and “sorry” come naturally to you – even if it is your spouse, your closest friend or a person working for you? Children watch all this and learn, so be polite, use good language and avoid abusing, no matter how frustrating the situation.

Inculcate a routine

It is very easy for children to be lax when it comes to timeliness. Parents must teach them to do the right thing at the right time. There should be a bedtime and there should be time to rise. Meals should be taken at fixed times, mostly with the entire family together. There is playtime and there is study time. Therefore, there has to be a routine and a sense of appreciation for it. Yes, there may be events, which may cause the routine to break occasionally, but when it happens on a daily basis, that is where you are failing. It may sound like an army regime initially but a good routine, which constitutes of good habits, is a boon to your child.

Learn to say no

A typical scenario between a parent and child – child asks for something unreasonable, parent says no, child insists, parent says no, child throws a tantrum and the parent says “do whatever you like”. Another no, and the child would have been a better person tomorrow. You love your children too much, so it is very easy to give in to all their demands. The best thing to do is never give an instant no, think it out. The child is always willing to wait before your first response. If you find the demand very unreasonable, only then say a no and then stick to it. In case the child throws a tantrum, leave the room. Tantrums often subside due to lack of audience.

Here are a few things, which you know subconsciously but somehow in the din of your daily chores you tend to forget. Do your kids a favour. All they want is your time and appreciation – give them their due and you will always be on a magical trip full of laughter and joy.

Garima Midha
Garima Midha is a New-Delhi-based health writer.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here