Before marriage all potential parents are dreaming of their honorable offspring and vow on how they will be raising a strong personality or a hero.
A lot of mothers decide not to work in order to be there for their children. Then their dream comes true and reality steps in. They are truly blessed with a wonderful girl or boy but day after day the challenges are faced quite differently and the stay at home mom is overwhelmed by feeding and cleaning and totally forgets nourishing her child’s soul and personality, while the exhausted father comes home angry and doesn't want to be disturbed by a whining child.
A lot of parents naturally assume that because they brought these children into the world, it means that they own them, we say "my children" thinking we are free to do whatever we choose upon them. On the contrary dear parents,
" Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
and though they are with you yet they belong not to you." ~ Khalil Gibran.
Every parent has been blessed with the honor of being responsible for another human being and should learn that this doesn't mean that he owns this little human but should do his best to service, stimulate and scaffold him to his own individual and distinguished best potential.
General Parenting Tips
A golden guideline is to always deal with your child in the way you would like people to deal with you:
1. Do your Homework as a parent: Read and learn about child behavior and how the child develops. A very common example is parents punishing children for drawing on the walls or spilling food while eating; the drawing means your child has artistic tendencies and aesthetic needs, so the right consequence is to calmly clean the wall together and then cover the whole wall with chart paper and tell him, now you can draw. As for spilling food, instead of taking over and feeding the child till he’s seven or even older, coach him nicely till he masters the skill.
2. You are a priority “Me Time”: you know when you go on an aero plane and the stewardess says “if you have a child, put on your own oxygen mask first and then help your child put on his”?
Parents and specifically mothers tend to completely ignore their needs once they are blessed with a child. I have seen a talented artist who told me sadly when I asked her what do you love to do, “I haven’t even held a brush for ten years, since I got married” Just imagine the frustration that could be bottled up for all these years!
It is extremely important that parents take care of themselves because without that oxygen mask, you will not be fit to take care of your child.
3. Use consequences and not punishments: Would you accept that your friend shout at your face and scream that you are punished because you have been naughty? It is preferable that you stay calm at all times and instead of using punishments which in my opinion imply hurtfulness, apply a consequences strategy where every misbehavior has an appropriate and natural logical consequence. Like, the natural consequence of spilling something is wiping it off the floor.
4. Praise your child for good behavior: Always try to call your child with a positive description of his actions, like “I like how you are sitting nicely " instead of " at last the naughty monkey has got tired"
Any negative label will automatically increase the negative behavior.
5. Talk to your children decently and respectfully: Your child will fully adopt the way to speak from you so if you want a decent child, be a decent parent. Also, refrain from saying anything hurtful like, " you’re disgusting, or I can't stand you”, or anything that may imply that your love is conditional to the child's behavior. Your love as a parent should be totally unconditional.
6. Be proactive and plan to prevent misbehavior: If you are going anywhere, like to the doctor’s office for example and you know your child will be bored, stack your bag with play cards or any activity that will help entertain your child for a while, instead of asking him to sit nicely for an hour without doing anything.
7. One misbehavior at a time: If your child has a lot of misbehaviors, choose only one or two to work on through consequences and ignore the rest. It is very frustrating to be told you are making mistakes all day and this causes the child to think he is bad and there is no use so he gives up on himself and starts behaving even worse.
8. Quality time: It is not really about the amount of time you spend with your child, but it’s how you spend that time that matters. A lot of stay home parents get over occupied in the family chores and daily routines and really forget or are too tired to interact, socialize and play with their child. Sometimes when I ask parents about how they spend time with their children, the answer is “ oh, we take them out every weekend” .Actually, if you really want quality time, it’s preferable to be at home or in a cozy place where there will be ample opportunity for interaction, eye contact and all types of human communication. The best way to do this is to play with your child and of course excluding any electronic device or gadget.
Finally, just always keep in mind that what you will plant today when you are young and strong, you will sow tomorrow when you are old and frail.
By Dr.Mona Youssri
Child Psychiatrist, Family Counselor & CLC Founder