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Why do kids switch off?

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DON'T ACCUSE Give the child messages of trust and belief
DON'T ACCUSE Give the child messages of trust and belief

Why is your child turning a deaf ear to everything you say?

"Anita, Anita, Anitaaaaa... . How many times do I have to call you before you answer?" Santosh... . That's the tenth time I have asked you to change your uniform. "Nitu, are you deaf? You had better put off the TV because you do not seem to be able to hear anything I say."Are you a parent to whom this sounds familiar? Do you find yourself wondering why your child acts as though he has not heard you - leaving you feeling you are talking to the walls!In trying to understand why children "switch off" and close all channels of communication, parents first need to listen - to what the child is hearing. Listen to yourself speak.Throughout the day children keep hearing messages we ourselves would bristle at.We often do not realise that a simple "Do you always have to make such a mess?" is perceived by the child as a "put down" message. He hears "You are an untidy and irritating person". Our day is peppered with such "put down" messages. So much so that children lose their self esteem, any motivation to respond and eventually "switch off."This is because what we say and what our children hear are not the same. For example:Parent says, child hears"How many times do I have to tell you?" = "You are so irresponsible and lazy!""I am fed up of reminding you" = "You are forgetful and a nuisance""You promised and did not keep your promise" = "I cannot trust you."

Lack of self-motivation

Next we have to battle the "why bother" syndrome. Children who keep hearing "put down' messages begin to believe they are incapable of doing what is asked of them. They get used to a system where everything they achieve is through external force and not self-motivation. He knows he will be "made to" change his uniform, drink his milk, and do his homework. He is not expected to take responsibility or be part of planning/deciding anything for himself. Or worse, "Anyway mummy thinks I am bad, so I might as well be bad". So "why bother" responding to her?Parents feel children must be told what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Or else, they assume, the children won't. But consider this - Did a baby need to be forced to turn over or walk? Did he have to be drilled in language to learn to talk? So if a child can fall a hundred times and still keep trying to walk, isn't he capable of working towards his own development? Do we parents and teachers kill that inner drive for development by imposing so much on the child and controlling his every move?Give the child messages of trust and belief. If there is a task that needs to be done we should consider how important that task really is. And then communicate so that what your child hears is: "I believe you are trustworthy and responsible and will do what needs to be done."

A few tips

Use simple one-word reminders - "Uniform", "Homework", "Time to brush". They work far better than long lectures.Describe rather than accuse - "I see toys on the floor that need to be put away" rather than "Why have you left your toys in a mess?" Use "I" to express your frustration/anger rather than put down the child. "I find it hard to talk on the phone when I am interrupted" rather than "Stop troubling me. You are being a bad boy." Give information. "Paper is for writing, not walls" rather than "You are such a naughty girl for writing on the wall." If the larger portion of our communication with children is to share things, chat, listen and laugh together, then they are more open to what we are saying. But if the child is hearing a demand or order in everything we say, he is bound to resist and "turn a deaf ear". One may wonder if just words can make such a difference - try it and find out!Remember, Rome was not built in a day! UMA SHANKER & KESANG MENEZES

positiveparenting workshops@gmail.com

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