Today, in the morning, as I sipped my morning coffee, Ayaansh came hurriedly and told me he wants to join NYPD and be a detective like Jack Peralta (Brooklyn Nine Nine). I laughed at him and said that he needs to be an American citizen and clear Police exams to become one. By noon, he wanted to be a paleontologist and then later, he said he wants to be a masseurs’ and cater to babies. I, as a parent couldn’t help saying that his is career option was slightly weird and it would be prestigious to be a doctor or a lawyer. He laughed at me saying, ‘Amma, if I become a masseur, I will be looking at babies through the day, they look so cute and make me so happy. Look at our Hridu. I want to be happy when I grow up, so I am going to learn about being a masseur only’.
Saying this he ran happily around the house while I sat in bewilderment how my five year old found a simple way to be happy. As grown-ups, we have forgotten on how to be happy, we have stopped chasing our dreams that pave way for happiness. We seek happiness in others, materialistic things leading us all the way to misery, ultimately shoving our dreams and desires into our children’s shoulders.
It was another day when Ayaansh wanted me to buy him another Yuval Zommer’s book. Since, I had a rule that homework comes before play and leisure, I simply told him to complete his homework before we can buy one and there was no other way around. He said he always can finish doing his homework after ordering the book, he would still have completed his homework before the book is delivered. I realized what I was telling him (that he had no choice) and what I desired for him (the freedom to be and do all that he desired) were totally at odds!
So, with these two incidents, let me begin today’s chapter in Parenting Essentials:
Chapter 4: D–Dreams and Discipline in Parenting Essentials
What are dreams? What is discipline? And how are they connected?
Dreams in a layman’s terms are our aspirations and desires. It can be one or many of the things that we wish-to-be or wish-for and one that gives us joy when fulfilled and agonizes us when it doesn’t. Discipline is an instilled process that helps us to be organized, be accountable to our actions and a path that nurtures us to be the best version of ourselves.
Discipline in children must be instilled through mutual respect and using positive instructions that nurtures their self-esteem and confidence, making them independent and be accountable for their actions. Discipline or a set routine helps children to have self control, be more empathetic, respectful and mindful towards others. It also helps them to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them. Positive Discipline also helps in strengthening your relationship with your child. A disciplined child can be decisive, be a good leader and usually has clarity of thoughts which paves way to identify their own dreams/aspirations and work towards achieving it.
How can parents help children to achieve their dreams through discipline?
Remember the second incident I told you about? Here, I realized that it is not going to be easy and comfortable for me to allow my children to choose for themselves. Yet, as a parent it is my foremost duty to let my child be independent and have his own thoughts. And in the first incident when Ayaansh told me he wanted to become a masseur, I had to hold myself back and look at his reasons to be a masseur. It is only when a child learns that they can make their own choices, they learn and grow. It is from their own achievements and mistakes they develop their sense of good and bad. And when they develop this sense they realize that they are the makers of their dreams, their future.
So, here are some ways to nourish our children in realizing their dreams through discipline:
- The first and foremost thing to do is practice what we preach them. For example, if we tell them that they should keep their books in place, we need to model our actions in front of them.
2. The second step is to establish limits and giving a logical explanation about it. Children these days are smart, understanding and easily adapt to their situations. So have clear, consistent rules that they can follow and practice it as routine. The rules can be as simple as speaking softly to everyone at home, looking after own belongings, washing hands when you use the toilet, etc. These small steps helps in establishing confidence and allows them to believe in themselves.
3. While setting limits is important, it is also important that we do not impose control over their desires. We need to trust their abilities, be slightly flexible and provide them with options. For an example, if the rule is to do homework before playing in the garden and the child refuses to do so, provide them with options like:
a) You can do the homework now and play for an extra twenty minutes or
b) you can head to the garden right away but might have to come home early since we are left with homework.
This helps the child to understand the reason why is it important to finish his homework.
4. It is important that we empower them with the knowledge of the power to decide for themselves. In the above example, the child has been presented with two options, both having the consequences. It is by providing them the freedom to choose, we help them to own the consequences for their chosen action.
5. It is equally important that as parents we have to stop the urge to rectify them or judge them for their actions. Let them process what works for them and what doesn’t. Let us be more nurturing and gentle in our approach.
5. Another important step is to be attentive when your child talks to you. It is extremely crucial that we have an eye contact with them and give our 100% attention while they are talking to us. Listen to them, especially when they express difficulty in following a certain rule. Empathize, respect their honesty and provide with alternative. Motivate their sense of coming forward and talking about it to you.
6. As much as it is important to hear your child out, it is also important for a parent to know when he/she must not respond. At times, when the child keeps doing the same mistakes again and again, the best option is to ignore them and let them learn from their own mistakes. But if things go completely out of hand, a time-out as a discipline tool (when used in scarcely) can be used and is very effective too. Time-out helps again help children calm, self-realize their mistake and take steps towards rectification.
7. Acknowledge and appreciate! When a child is appreciated for a good behaviour, it instills confidence and self worth. A pat in the back has a lasting impact on the child’s personality by urging them to push their boundaries strive hard to be a better version of themselves.
8. As parents to modern-day children, one thing I have found that children like to experience and try different things. So, when a child asks you for expensive toys like Lego and you are not ready to buy it, instead of denying their requests completely, you can take them to a toy store and allow them to play and experience in play areas of the toys tore. This gratifies their eagerness and allows you to explain the reason about why you cannot buy this for him.
9. The biggest gift we can give ourselves and invite your children to have is self-trust. As parents we must trust our instincts and support our children to trust their gut feelings too.
10. Remember while you discipline your child, you also incorporate their needs and explorative and curious nature. Allow them to imagine and creatively express themselves. We must allow them to choose for themselves and not for us or anyone else to be happy. As your child changes, be willing to change your support to suit.
Children are resilient, curious and each has their own unique version of greatness. As parents, our greatest gift is to empower our children to freely explore that uniqueness and to help them become what they know they can be.
This is the fourth post written as a part of #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge for the alphabet ‘D’. You can find all 26 posts on ‘A TO Z OF PARENTING ESSENTIALS’ under the hashtag #themummastartupblogs in Facebook Instagram and Twitter.
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See you tomorrow with a new post on Parenting Essentials. Till then, let us keep writing, reading and spread smiles around!