I tweaked the way I talk to my child




How I talk to my child is different from how my father talked to me. Am I glad that I am doing things differently?

Yes.

Is there a guarantee that this is the best way to talk? Is there a safety net?
No. Because there is no safety net in the world for anything.

Question- Can I watch TV? Now that's a deal with the devil, right?
My parents- 'NO. Go and do your homework. Watching TV will not help you.'
:( And all the while the TV show went on, I stared blankly at my book. I was distracted.

Me to my son- 'Yes, you can, after you are done with your homework.'

The addictive, immersive world of screen is no stranger. However, my constant NO's only make him immune to this word. What message do I want to send across? Can I reword my answer and ensure that it's positive and takes care of both our interests? Besides, it also inculcates task orientation in children. Just be sure that asking your children to monitor their screen time while you binge-watch or doomscroll is not the brightest idea either. 

Upon not picking up a concept/skill fast. We can avoid being smug.
My parents- ‘How much time you are taking? Hurry up. You are so slow.’
And I kept wondering what was so grossly wrong with my intellect? I felt belittled.

Me to my son- ‘I know it's not easy. But I can see you are being patient. Can I help you?’

Soften the blow. I wasn’t Einstein, I don't expect my son to be one. I am glad he shows focus and persistence rather than the correct answer. The correct answer will come eventually. Also, don't forget to assess who is competing against whom? 

Upon making a mistake and saying sorry.
My parents- ‘What sorry? Sorry doesn't help.’
I truly felt sorry but couldn't understand why they didn't see my sincerity. I felt sad.

Me to my son- ‘I know you are feeling sorry. Just ensure you do not repeat it again.’

Yes, sometimes this word can set your teeth on edge. Yet, know that mistakes happen and sometimes the best you have to offer is a genuine sorry. There is no harm in saying one.

Upon a bargain situation - 
I want to go to a movie with them on a Sunday but my parents want to organize the storeroom.
My parents- ‘There is so much work at home. What movie? You are too much into movies. That is why you are getting low grades. ’


Me to my son- ‘How about we agree to have a movie night the coming weekend and this weekend we get the storeroom organized?’ or vice-versa.

It’s about creating a win-win situation. I cannot always exercise my will by virtue of being a powerful parent. For a harmless day to day activities, one as a family can bargain and reach a more amicable situation rather than dictating my WILL on him. His interest is important to me. Trampling it every time is not my style.


Upon a fight, I had with my friend and I am trying to tell my parents about it. 
My parents- ‘Enough. No more of your nonsense. I don't want to listen to your stories.’

I wanted to share but guess they didn't care. I mused to myself.

Me to my son- ‘Tell me more. What happened? How did it all start?’ 

I am helping my child share his story with me. Stories of everyday life give me ample fodder to know about him, his thoughts, feelings, and ideas. I am also giving him the signal that 'I AM THERE' and he can come and talk to me about anything and everything...today or tomorrow.

Upon asking my father to buy me a comic 

My parents- ‘Go and read your school books. You are too much into comics and storybooks. These comics will not fetch you marks.'

Reading 'Akbar-Birbal' comic strip on a train journey is no sin. What is wrong with reading a comic? I kept sulking and thinking.

Me to my son- ‘Let's read together. When I was your age, I loved reading these. These comics have been around for a long and extremely interesting.’


How do you instill a love for reading? Course books are hardly enjoyable to read. :) I don't think it's a good idea to put a barricade on what to read and what not to read (of course adult supervision is a must on all that children are watching and reading). A genuine love for reading is possible when the child finds it interesting to pick up all kinds of (age-appropriate) magazines, comics, storybooks, picture books and dive into it. Also, a parent who loves reading with their child is only benefiting the child in numerous ways...two of them being- spending quality time by being your child reading companion and helping him become a READER.


Upon money matters

My parents- 'Remember, money doesn't grow on trees. When you will earn, you will get to know. Start doing some work around the house rather than coming up with new demands every day. '

I often wondered what if money grew on trees? Would he let me pluck it all? The bigger question that lingered- Is it important to make me feel that way?

Me to my son- 'This is your toy cupboard; let's look at the treasure here. Which ones you haven't touched, which ones you have outgrown, which ones you would like to keep? Do you really want to play with it or is it because your friend owns one and you cannot live without competing with him? We got you a set of toys two months back on your birthday. Do you think you would want to spend your money on buying more?'

Money matters are major and money matters are sensitive. Alleviate the stress by reminding that your little ones do not understand the difference between needs, wants, and desires. It is our job to coach them and make them learn to defer their wants. It needn't be a business discussion, just a slice of life which would help them in the long run. 


Real-life testing- A month short of his birthday, we thought it was an opportune moment to talk to our son about 'gifts' and 'return gifts' when the birthday came. Our attempt first met with an initial shock, followed by whys and dispirited introspection, later we were able to set the ball rolling. As he made a genuine attempt to understand, we made an earnest attempt to listen to him too. We are now having a 'no birthday gift' policy(saves us of the social pressure or competition to buy the best and return the best. Also, the amount of plastic we hoard in the name of birthday gifts and return gifts is out of context) and hopefully, it will make him value the experience more than what the gift bag contains.


Upon making a mistake
My parents- ‘You cannot do a single thing properly. I shouldn't have asked you to do it in the first instance. We cannot trust you.’

Really Daddy? Why? I blamed myself for the mistake.

Me to my son- ‘It's okay. We all make mistakes. We make mistakes of all kinds. The art lies in learning from them.’
Things happen and mistakes happen quite often. What do you do? Shout? Yell? Blame? Accuse? or you just give family members including yourself the room to make mistakes and learn from them? When you owe up for your mistakes, you just show your children how to take responsibility for mistakes, learn, and move on. When you let, your child make mistakes, you extend the same courtesy, room, and comfort to him. And who doesn't make mistakes? Who is perfect? None. Right? I have seen my son feel miserable over not being able to meet my expectation and not being perfect. But I just let him be. He doesn't need to be perfect. He can make mistakes. All that I want is for him to learn from his mistakes. Every mistake comes with a hidden message.

Upon joining a family conversation
My parents- ‘Just keep quiet. It's not for you. It's for us to talk and sort. We are your parents.’

But even I have something to say. Anybody listening? I shouted within.

Me to my son- ‘What do you think? Should we invite your friend’s cousin too for your birthday?’

He may be too small to give me a real solution but I am giving him an opportunity to participate in a family discussion. He is a member of the family and listening to what he has to say is important to me. Today he gives me funny solutions, tomorrow he may give me a unique idea to resolve a problem at hand. We can reserve the bedroom for adult conversation. He can be taught to not jump into the conversation when two people are talking. He can wait for his turn.  By involving him in the family discussion I am letting him know that we value him, his thoughts, his idea. We are helping him learn that a family operates together, takes decisions collectively, and bears the responsibility of the consequences.
Saying a 'Thank you'… something which my parents thought was too formal in a family set up.  To me-it’s manners, tact, and grace, the learning of which starts from home. It is an indispensable tool in your parenting toolkit. 






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