Article by: Miss Putri Anggraeni
“Your children are not your children.
They are 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.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”
― Kahlil Gibran
There is some truth in the poem that Kahlil Gibran wrote describing some truths in the relationship between a parent and a child. We may house their body because they live with us, but we can never house our children’s soul. As parents, we tend to forget that our children are unique individual beings that have their own aspirations and dreams. We must not expect our children to fulfil our own dreams within our time frame because their ambition and yearnings may not align with our own.
Raising a child is never easy. There are so many challenges in the various phases of their growth. Sometimes we have so many questions with regard to our child’s behaviour: why they do not listen to us, why they do the things that we clearly do not like and keep repeating it, why is so hard for them to eat, study, or have regular exercise and etc. Sometimes our frustrations built on until we explode and said something that we are not supposed to say.
The above are just the tip of the iceberg from thousands of problems that parents face every day. In this article, we are going to discuss some of the more common problems that we know of. We have to state the disclaimer that we do not claim to have the best advice for a particular problem because parenting problems are often complex and dynamic. But we hope that at least some of the advice written in this article will be helpful to you. The most important thing is to continue learning and help on another.
We have shortlisted a number of common cases to be split into several articles on problems that parents often deal with along with the suggested solutions to the problem after our brainstorming session with our school counsellor, preschool teachers and our own research on the parenting topics.
1. Crying toddlers
When we are faced with a crying child, the first instinct is to try to make the crying stop. At times, it got us annoyed and we start to say things like “stop crying!” or “don’t be a baby and stop crying!” or “big boy/girl don’t cry!” or “don’t cry is so shameful!”. In this situation, the first thing that we have to do is actually give the opportunity for your child cry it out while at the same time calming your child down before we talk in a calm and reassuring manner to find out what is the problem that is causing your child to cry. Even as adults, we are susceptible to crying when we are in a sad/stressful or and angry situation. It is perfectly normal and crying itself is one avenue to relieve our heightened emotions. So it is a good idea for us to give the opportunity to vent out their emotions first. They tend to be more receptive to what we have to say after and you will be in a better position to solve the problem together.
2. Arrival of a new younger sibling
Some parents are often guilty in expecting their current child to be suddenly more “mature” when he/she is going to have a little brother/sister even though their age gap is very close. This will be a little unfair to your current child since he/she might also still be a toddler when the baby brother/sister is going to arrive. Parents may also worry that they may not get along well with the arrival of the new baby. A possible solution to this problem is to start introducing to the new member of the family as early as during the pregnancy period. Parents have to constantly remind their child that he/she is going to have a little brother/sister. This will get them well adjusted to the possible changes in the family dynamics. From there, parents can discuss the possible good examples that the older siblings can show to the younger siblings. Simple acts such as kissing and hugging to show our love is often a good start. Upon the arrival of the baby, allow some time for the older sibling to interact with the new member of the family. This will allow them to foster a closer bond together. We as parents must also be realistic when setting the expectation for the older siblings because they cannot be “matured” in just 9 months when they may still be toddler themselves.
Yelling is the natural progression when anger/frustrations have reached our tolerable limits. Unfortunately, we are sometimes guilty for yelling at our own child when they made us frustrated with their behaviour. This is a bad habit that we must try to change in our child as well as on our own. Even as adults, yelling is often seen as rude and impolite. Doing it to a child, however, is worse because yelling can make their self-esteem and confidence to go down. Not only that, it instils fear in your child and will make them reluctant to open up to you in the future. Therefore, we as parents must lead by example. Show them that yelling is a poor way to get what we want across and it is not effective. Next, we teach them to reason and persuade using logic and manners. It will spur them to use their intellect and manners to solve problems.
4. Giving empty threats as ultimatum
This is important for parents to avoid but yet it is used by some parents because they want a quick fix to the problem. Giving empty threats will not solve the problem for a long term and give your child feel insecure and intimidated without them knowing the actual reasons of why you want them to stop behaving that way. No child should ever will insecure with their parents. The worst kind is when you said threats like: “If you don’t like it, you can leave my house!” This will only add to the anger/pain that your child is experiencing and may have long-term repercussion on your relationship with your child. Often when they hear those words, the child immediately feel that he/she is not wanted or worse, feel like a burden to the family. Repeated use of empty threats will erode your credibility until to a certain point that they will not believe whatever you say anymore. At that point, it will be very difficult to regain the trust of your child.
5. Making your toddler feel guilty/ashamed.
“I have given you everything! Why are you doing this?!”, usually these words are uttered when you feel disappointed with your child’s behaviour and we try to make them realise the severity by making them feel guilty and ashamed in the hope that they will realise it and change their behaviour. The truth is, guilt or making your child feel ashamed is never a good motivator to change your child’s behaviour. In fact, it will negatively impact your relationship with your child. It will also make your child develop a negative mindset making them feel like a bad person even though the problem does not lie with them as a person but rather in their behaviour that needs correction. It will be much efficient if you can sit down and talk with your child in a firm and rational manner to discuss the problem. We must let them know why their behaviour is not acceptable to us and reason with them why that is so. You will be surprised that some children respond better to behavioural changes when you treat them with respect and give them logical reasons of why that is not acceptable.
To be continued….