Bringing up children is no cakewalk, but a little effort through their growing up years can shape them into well-rounded individuals

The arrival of a child is celebrated by family members. However, the onus of its upbringing rests on its parents. A parent’s duty does not end with providing food, clothing and shelter to his child. Man is a social animal and has to live in a society, following its norms. These have to be taught to the child.

And, when can this education begin? Even an infant responds to its close family members. It is important at this stage to communicate with the child as often as possible. The outcome of leaving young infants with a caretaker or not conversing with them is not favourable. As the child begins to move around the house, there are numerous do’s and don’ts. A simple word of praise motivates the child to repeat good behaviour, whereas a ‘no’ indicates inappropriate behaviour. At this stage, it is not necessary to counsel them on the outcome of bad behaviour.

Appreciate the strengths

That necessity arises at a slightly later stage. As the child moves out of the comfort of the home, to school and various other places, parents have to instruct them about correct ways to speak and act in accordance with their surroundings. We need to teach our children that each person is unique, with his / her own strengths and weaknesses. The ideal way to get along is to appreciate the strengths and overlook the weaknesses. The child needs to understand that we must not hurt another by our words or deeds.

Parents also need to imbibe in children the feelings of compassion and tolerance. Children need to realise how lucky they are — to have a family, wealth, a loving home and comfort. One should be kind to the less fortunate, and compassionate to animals too.

As children grow, there is a transformation in their behaviour. Adolescence is a much-dreaded phase in the lives of both the child and the parent. Parents must remember it is a difficult period in the lives of the children, when numerous changes take place — physically and emotionally. Reprimanding and nagging does not work; treat them as equals. Listen to their problems and help them. It is also a time when academic pressure mounts on the child and he has to learn to cope with it. On the other hand, it is also the most vulnerable period when peer pressure is at its peak. Counsel children on their priorities and how to keep realistic goals in mind. The teen years witness frequent outbursts from children and they have to be calmed down sympathetically. Adolescent children should also be made aware of their financial circumstances and the necessity to restrain their wants and needs. Parents can inculcate habits of thrift and careful spending. It is not an onerous task to make children respect the efforts of the parents in providing them a comfortable lifestyle.

Being independent

Since nuclear families are predominant now, mostly with both parents working, children learn to take care of their siblings and develop independence. Parents should not over indulge them, due to their own feelings of guilt about not spending much time with them. As they grow, they should gradually be taught to take care of their own needs and help with household chores. Respecting elders is another significant aspect of upbringing. Children should be polite and helpful to elders in any situation, both at home and outside, and taught to seek guidance from them whenever required. Parents undergo a lifetime of challenges in bringing up their children and least that the latter can do is treat them with respect. There is no doubt that parenting is a challenging task, but we can rest with immense satisfaction when we look at the balanced and well-rounded personalities of our children.

(The writer is a special educator)