(This article was written for www.gurgaonmoms.com and was featured there on 11th October 2015. Gurgaon Moms is a growing community of mothers who reside in gurgaon. Many interesting book readings are organised by Gurgaon Moms apart from giving a platform for moms to communicate with each other!)
Newton never thought that he would be doling out such awesome parenting advice when he stated his Third Law of Motion- “To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
This is undoubtedly the best policy for not only becoming a Nirvanama but also for bringing up a disciplined balanced kid. Can something be so powerful to have some awesome outcome? You bet!
Someone very wise once told me that you can’t always control your kids’ actions, but how you react to those actions is the defining moment in parenting.
Imagine a scenario (in fact a scenario that took place 10 minutes back in my life!):
You just shifted into your new finely painted apartment. You have not yet finished admiring the pristine white walls when you notice your kid, who have never painted anything on the wall when she was supposed to, has just put a nice black palm print blotch on the wall!!! If it were anybody other than my DD, I swear the outcome would have been something like what Uma Thurman does in the movie Kill Bill. However, as a mother each opportunity is a teaching moment. So what do I do? Let me detail it out. I call it the Mommy Steps to NIRVANA!
Step 1: Take a deep breath and tell yourself “it’s OK.”
Step 2: Paste a smile (even if you are boiling from inside) and ask your baby calmly, “Why did you do this?”
Step 3: Understand what was cooking inside your toddlers brain.
You will be surprised that babies have a lot of good reasoning for each of their actions. “Just like that” is an excuse they have not discovered yet! For example, what my daughter told me that when you enter a new house, you put your palm prints on the walls. That’s what she was trying to do! Awesome, isn’t it? She must’ve seen this Indian ritual at some wedding or in some TV serial and she was applying the same logic here!
Suddenly her actions made perfect sense to me! Since I understood why she did it, I was now better equipped to handle what I would say to her about it.
Step 4: Spell out that you understand. Always tell your toddler that you understand why she did a particular thing. And then enter into a “However” or a “But”
Step 5: The “however” reason and the Alternative. Once you have gained your child’s attention and confidence by listening to her and being calm and stating that you understand what she was thinking, it will be a cakewalk to reason out things with her. Wherever possible offer her an alternate after giving her your “however” reason In the example I am running, I handled my reaction by saying,” Oh Now I see why you did this. What you were thinking was fine, However……That ritual is done on the wall OUTSIDE the door and not just any wall. And it is done with a particular color, not your regular water colors. Because water colors just spoil the wall and are difficult to erase. So why don’t you promise never to put anything on the wall without asking Mom again. And as for your handprint, I have a better idea. Let’s make it on a piece of paper and stick it outside at the door. This way, if we have to shift to another apartment later we can carry that paper with us there too!”
Step 6: Take a bow: You have killed many many birds in one go. You gained the confidence and trust of your baby, you didnt yell, you became Nirvanama, you could make your kid listen to reason and you taught him a permanent life lesson to make your future easier. No more wall paintings to tackle!!!
Imagine if I had burst out into frustration, yelled at my unsuspecting baby and thrown a fit! All I would have done would have dug a grave for being buried even deeper next time. Whenever my baby wanted to push my buttons, she would know- just paint the wall!
Do you now see the catastrophe I have avoided by measuring and timing my reactions?
That’s why I said that unknowingly Newton has given us an important parenting lesson- To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Translated to mommy language it means “You cant control each action of your baby, But the way you react to these actions lays down the blueprint of your parenting path in the future!”
So choose your reactions carefully and wisely coz your bub wont be choosing her actions wisely for many years to come!