Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Time to Say No

by Anju Munshi, Telegraph India:

Children today are over protected and consequently, what one would call over parented. They are fussed over and unduly pampered, their mistakes are ignored or pardoned for fear of retaliation; very rarely is the child reprimanded and held responsible for unruly behaviour.

Parents guard their children’s interests by criticizing schools, teachers or neighbourhood friends. The result is a generation that has no inner mechanism to drive them on and little or no resilience.

Are we secretly scared of our children? Are we trying to please them without being able to use a simple parental instruction: no, you can’t?

Owing to a lack of time and patience, parents tend to give in to their children’s demands. This gives youngsters the message that they can have whatever they want whenever they want it. Scientific research reveals that children’s brains are tuned to understand the concept, ‘no’.

Dave Walsh, an authority on parenting, points out in one of his books that “instant gratification is not the path to resilience or success. The yes culture leads to disappointment and failure.

When the same kids grow up and go to a college or take up a job they realize that they can’t always have their way and succumb to pressures. But then it is too late to do anything.”

Friendly mistake

A senior executive from a recruitment company observed that nowadays young people break down if working hours are longer than usual, and cannot handle any stress or crisis.

A professor from an institute of technology echoed this, saying that although we think that the new generation is lonely or is being unduly pressurized to do well, the fact is that young people are not resilient, they cannot take the pressure and snap easily.

Over parenting means that one is actually making life difficult for children later in their lives. When a child is constantly cushioned against ‘stress’, he does not learn how to deal with the ups and downs of life. Saying ‘no’ to children on occasion fosters perseverance, patience and resilience.

Social scientists say that the exposure levels today have made children inquisitive; they want to know for themselves, and this has made parents apprehensive about their well-being.

They want to communicate with their kids in a friendly manner without intimidating them, so they avoid saying ‘no’. But being friendly with children is different from being their friends.

For example, parents get unfriended or befriended by their kids on Facebook as they line up to be accepted as their Facebook friends. But why not allow them a private space? Why be so intrusive, over-protective? How can they feel free if parents access their every indiscretion?

Giving young people choices is a better option than giving in totally or not giving in at all. Let them think on their own, as that helps brain development. Treating them as buddies and discussing family and personal problems is like an overload of information that they cannot shoulder. Instead, it makes them feel insecure.

Nowadays we see demands for expensive androids and tablets being met by parents. A 37-year-old father fears his one-year-old child, “It is better to hand over my cell phone to him, else he will scream and shout.” Quite a number of parents express a kind of a helplessness when it comes to dealing with their toddlers.

The comfort of the child is of prime importance in our minds and rightly so. The intentions are noble but somewhere along the way, this model parenting is taking its toll on the well-being of the child, making him feel insufficient and insecure with no sense of self-worth and pride.

Saying ‘yes’ all the time is a form of over parenting and this interferes with the growth of the child’s self-reliance and sense of self-worth. For resilience, children need confident parents who can say ‘no’.

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