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Patience, Positivity & Parenting

by Nason Tan 1 Aug 2013

Imagine this scenario: two boisterous kids run around in a bookshop, bumping into customers and screaming in all their glory. Their mother is oblivious to the ruckus, engrossed in a novel. A retail assistant timidly approaches her and politely alerts her to the ongoing chaos. She asks the mother to watch over her kids to avoid disturbing other customers. Taken aback, the mother retorts, “Who complained? Tell me, who? Do you have kids? Kids are like that, what do you expect?”

I’m sure the majority of us have had this experience and silently wished for such kids to be dealt with. Of course, we cannot blame kids for behaving like, well, kids, can we? Could it very well be that it is the child’s upbringing that is at fault here? While some are undoubtedly inherently hyperactive and beyond control, there is a likely chance that if they are brought up, such incidents could be avoided or controlled to a certain extent.

We strive for healthier types of positive parenting to nurture our children into emotionally, mentally and physically balanced human beings. There are four types of parenting that parents-to-be may find helpful in deciding what sort of parents they want to be. Meanwhile, those with children can analyse which category they fall under, and perhaps tweak their current parenting skills to further improve themselves for their child’s benefit.

• Authoritarian Parenting
These parents are strict and uncompromising. They exert lots of demands on their children; warmth and intimate two-way communication is rare.
• Neglectful Parenting
Parents are unaware of their children’s whereabouts, activities, friends or academic performance because they are bogged down with their own lives and careers.
• Indulgent Parenting
Parents are very responsive with their children, placing few demands on them (pampering).
• Authoritative Parenting
Parents are strict yet willing to listen to their children’s point of view. When necessary, a compromise is reached. Children are brought up with warmth and are expected to behave at their intellectual and social age.

Positive parents are sensitive to their child’s behaviour and give encouragement through non-violent disciplinary techniques. Through such encouragement, they learn self-control. This greatly improves the parent-child relationship and also the child’s self-worth and discipline. Additionally, parents can teach children to think for themselves.

In this context, practising a healthy parenting style is more vital. Children who come from less healthy parenting environments tend to display lower self-esteem, assertiveness, responsibility and maturity and may develop a rebellious streak. Spend more time with your children while also setting firm house rules (“Bedtime in 30 minutes” or “We are leaving in 15 minutes”).

Teach them how to make decisions by prompting questions like “Do you want to eat?” If you expect your child to comply, give ‘do’ commands i.e. commands starting with verbs like “Put away the toys, please” or “Walk slowly”. Use “when ... then” commands to tell your child the consequences of their actions: “‘When you have finished washing the dishes, you can play with your friends.”

Have realistic expectations of what your child can and cannot do. Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting.

Lastly, I will leave you with an excerpt of Brene Brown’s parenting manifesto from her book ‘Daring Greatly’ as a touchstone for when you are wrestling with parenting vulnerabilities or fears. I certainly wish my parents had this manifesto, and I encourage all parents out there to share it.

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto
• Above all else, I want you to know that you areloved and loveable.
• You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.
• You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

Excerpt from Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (Gotham, 2012)

For more helpful health and medical advice from Dr. Nason Tan, visit his clinic at No. 2A-1, Level 1, Wisma Menjalara, Jalan 7A/62A, Bandar Manjalara, 52200 Kepong, Kuala Lumpur.

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