Health

Naughty or nice? Psychologists answer tricky parenting questions

happy mad ride on father's back. Indian small girl sitting on Dad's back while mother and brother laughing. selective focus

happy mad ride on father's back. Indian small girl sitting on Dad's back while mother and brother laughing. selective focus  

Your child may not be keeping score, but parents often doubt themselves and their parenting abilities

Parenting is hard, because nothing can prepare you for it. If you’re questioning your parenting abilities, know you’re not alone. We asked parents what their trickiest troubles were, and got the experts in to help.

Thenndral S, child counsellor, and founder-CEO of Eros Psycoun Services, Chennai and V Shreya Mythrei, a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist at Aarohi Centre for Mental Health, Coimbatore answer tough questions parents ask themselves.

Should I reward my children for good marks?

Encouraging children for their work is good, but psychologists warn against materialistic rewards. “If a child is constantly being given gifts, they will always expect something materialistic in return for their actions,” says Thenndral. If you feel that your child has worked hard, gift them experiences. “This could be taking them to a park, going out for dinner or giving them a monthly subscription to their favourite comic,” she says.

What should I do when my child throws a tantrum in the store: grin and bear it or throw one myself?

Acceptance is the first step. Understand that children can get overwhelmed in public spaces. “Usually, the problem arises when parents become conscious and place the onus on what others may think of them. Avoid succumbing to the tantrum. Instead, reassure them and avoid shouting or threatening,” says Shreya. Prep children before you go to the store. “Tell them what they are allowed to buy, and if they make a scene for something that has not been discussed, explain the reason,” she adds.

I suspect that my child is hiding a social media handle. Is it okay to snoop?

No, but it is okay to let your child know that you feel your number 1 priority is his safety. Says Thenndral, “Understand that your child also has a personal life. Reflect on why your child was reluctant to share this information with you and then have a conversation. Explain the pros and cons of using social media and also share your concerns with them. Do also listen to your child.” Explain the non-negotiables: for instance, online bullying or accessing social media that may have age guidelines.

I think my child prefers my husband because he plays the good cop and I am always the bad cop. How do I become the favoured one?

The idea of one parent being favoured is inappropriate. What is ideal for a child is to look at both parents with equal respect. “Parents should bring a balance here and it can be done by making decisions together. For example, when a child approaches the father for permission to go on a school trip, tell him that it is important for him to discuss it first with the mother. This helps the child understand that opinions of both the parents are equally important and eliminates the situation of being the good or bad cop,” says Thenndral.

My child dresses outrageously in tiny shorts. What are my options: keep quiet or bring it up?

Asserting themselves is a part of a teen’s developing identity. Conversations are important. “Have a discussion with your child and listen to them. State why you feel it is inappropriate. Explain to them the importance of dressing to the context and reach a middle ground. For example, a parent might say that they can wear short shorts when they go on a picnic but not when they go to the local market,” says Shreya. Relationships are not built overnight, so spend time with your child, always giving her your full attention when you do — which means get off the phone, chat, laugh, and listen.

I used to smoke. Now I tell my kids not to. Should I confess?

Yes. “Tell them how it affected your health and the reasons you quit. If they come to know about this from anyone else, your child could lose trust in you and may not be interested in listening to you at all, even on other matters,” says Thenndral.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 1:49:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/naughty-or-nice-psychologists-answer-tricky-parenting-questions/article30380183.ece

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