Continuing my diatribe on common mistakes made by parents, when it comes to following discipline, most parents err mostly being – too too rigid, too dominating, very over protective.
I recall a parent couple, both highly qualified and holding senior position in their respective companies, who succeeded in getting a child through assisted reproduction (largely due to age); like all prospective parents they planned, planned and planned during pregnancy but went in over drive once the baby was born. They had every small step listed on how the baby was to be brought up; regarding food, what to start and when to start? Which toys will be bought and at what age? Boy had not been to a garden by the time he was 2. He was being brought up in a totally dominated and over protected way; they were too scared to send him out without they being around and since both had a career, it was only possible some Sundays. They got their first jolt when the child, during school interviews, would look at the mother/ father for approval/ support and was able to answer only a few questions and thus was rejected in most schools they tried. Later, pulling strings and giving a huge donation, they managed to secure admission in a good school.
This is where I entered; I had been cautioning them over this approach of theirs – my cue was the observation that whenever he was brought for monthly vaccinations and need based visits he never touched any item on the table (we have to keep a watchful eye as most kids, being curious, will touch almost every item on the table – pen, torch, mouse, key board etc), this child had no curiosity, he did not want to experiment!
We started serious counselling of parents to change their behaviour; the main attempt was to convince them that child is not a status symbol and you are not to bring up him up in the most ideal way so that others can pat your back! Childhood is their only opportunity to be wild and free and as long as they aren’t doing something dangerous to themselves or anyone else and aren’t being disrespectful, they should to be left alone. Counsellors explained, at length, the negative effects of over domination.
Many parents try to control everything the kid does – talking, eating, sleeping, going out etc etc. The child loses out, big time, in this structured life; everything planned to the minute. There is a task list for the caretaker (it is worse when the mother is around to enforce the schedule). They do not let the child learn any initiative. Research has shown that kids grow best when they have to face uncertainties and manage them; this stimulates thinking, hypothesizing, making choices, decision making etc. Kids have to be given a chance to speak their minds as the life they will face when grown up will NOT be structured and planned to a ‘T’.
Obedience is, definitely, NOT a positive virtue. If we raise rigidly obedient kids, we are actually raising obedient, process driven, adults, who will not ask questions! We must ensure that our kids ask questions and we answer each one of them. We must raise kids who see the world differently. Our kids must realize and appreciate that we have good reasons for what we expect them to do and are willing to explain them. We, definitely, do NOT wish to raise someone who does it “Because someone said so!”
We must teach a child WHAT to think instead of HOW to think. The latter leads to inculcated helplessness and ability to be influenced by others – being too impressionable!
I am sure no parent will want their child to be one!