(This article was written for www.gurgaonmoms.com and was featured there on 29th 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!)
We all love talking about women empowerment. We all are staunch proponents of it.
Today I am going to bring your attention to a class of society whose empowerment is overlooked most of the time. Many don’t think they need empowerment. Most of us don’t KNOW they need empowerment.
I am talking of our children. Children need empowerment. From day one. Whether it’s a toddler or a teenager, we need to consciously empower our kids to make them grow into mature, thinking individuals.
Like I said earlier, most of us don’t know that our toddlers can be empowered. Or that they NEED empowerment. We have a hierarchy set in our mind where we as parents are way above our kids.
Yes, kids do need our guidance. Our wisdom. Our experience. That they will always do. Even when they are 30, you will still have few decades of experience more than they have. This equation will never change.
Yet, I suggest you start this empowerment journey as early on as possible not when he reaches 30. It’s a little difficult to take out the parent in you and see your child as a separate individual and respect that.
I know of moms who still don’t see their sons as able adults! Yet, its best – for your baby- to be empowered early on.
But the question still remains- what do you mean by an empowered toddler? Some moms just shudder at the thought of empowering their already out-of-control brat.
No, I am not suggesting to stop disciplining or training your toddler. Neither am I suggesting you talk all about life and truth with him.
Empowerment (for anybody) basically means that you hear them out, respect their feelings and emotions and try to understand their point of view.
And that’s exactly what it means for your toddler too.
If you consciously empower your kid, you will not only raise a strong, thinking and empathetic individual but you will also have an easier parenting life!
Hear out your kid: It’s best to let your kid present her alibi during a catastrophe. For eg: during play if a toddler comes complaining to you that your kid hit him don’t go rushing to reprimand your baby. Yes, you know that it might be true. But always allow your baby to give his version first. You can mete out the judgment after that. He will feel heard. And that’s very important for his psyche.
Don’t react negatively to negative behavior: An eye for an eye doesn’t work at all with toddlers. If your toddler screams, doesn’t mean you scream back. Right? If your toddler screams, your first question should be to ask him why. Why are you screaming? What is bothering you? Like I said before, hear him out.
Trust your baby: If your baby is assuring you she did not hit her friend, assume it is true. Yes yes I know these brats. Its most likely not true! But say it out to her, “ok. I trust you. But then why is your friend crying? If you did not hit her, what happened to her?” After a few questions of patient interrogation, you are bound to get the truth. And that too from the horse’s mouth! If it turns out that she did actually hit her friend and was lying in the first instance, assure her that she never needs to lie to you and can always tell the truth. Then go on to some little disciplining act to make her understand that lying to you will not get past you. A disciplining act involving reward and not punishment.
Eg, a small thing like “Because your friend was telling the truth, I will give her a candy. Next time when you tell the truth from the first instance, you will get one too!” This way you have done a very important thing- rewarded the good behavior but not punished the bad. Rewarding always works better than punishment, trust me! When your baby will see you rewarding truth-tellers, she will automatically tell you the truth next time. Coz she knows that you wont scream at her for lying, you wont punish her for lying nor will you disgrace her in front of her friends.
No public humiliation: Taking on from the previous points, always avoid public humiliation for your kids. We all think that a 3 year old will not remember or not mind. But I am sure you have seen your toddler shaking with anger if you publicly disgrace her. She is an individual with a sense of self. The earlier you understand that, the better. Her ego gets hurt when you scream at her in front of her friends or even in front of strangers at a restaurant. Just like you usually don’t fight with your partner in public and wait till you reach the privacy of your bedroom, similarly, wait till you get home to settle things with your toddler too.
Respect: In a survey done among women, respect feature above love. All individuals, women men or kids, need respect. Respecting your kid doesn’t mean you don’t discipline him or teach him about life. Respecting your kid means that you treat him as an individual. An individual with his own sets of strengths and weaknesses which may differ entirely from yours. You need to applaud his strengths and need to accept his weaknesses. You need to encourage him to not allow his weaknesses define him and try to train him to focus on his strengths. But above all, at the end of the day you need to accept your kid as an individual.
One of my friends once forwarded me a message saying that parenting is like a bow and arrow. We are the bow. Our kids are the arrow. We are as different from each other as bow and arrow are. As bows, all we can do is point them in the right direction and then set them free. Allow them to take flight and hope that they land on the correct target.
Truly, that really sums it up very well. Incorporating this thinking will not only make you a NIRVANA-ma , it will also help you raise NIRVANA-kids.