There are tonnes of challenges that parents face in present times. While some parents complain that their children don’t listen, others say their kids are way too addicted to an electronic gadget, while others complain of their kids are fussy eaters and don’t eat healthily.
From all the responses we’ve got, an overdose of technology, lack of free play, junk food and behavioural problems top the charts, take a look at what some mums have to say and the solutions offered by professionals.
Saloni Mirchandani Malkani, a Mumbai based mother of an 11-year-old adds, “With iPads and phones easily accessible, it is difficult to curb or control the time and quality of content/exposure to the child. Also, with so many options available for everything, it is difficult to decide whether the child should be allowed to decide or the parent.”
She further mentions, “With the Internet telling us all…One day something is good while another day the same thing is bad. Also, with kids being exposed to foul language and sexual content on almost every front, how does one stop them from using such language? How do we keep them motivated and focused on a particular hobby?”
Mother of 4-year-old, Manisha Kothari from Mumbai, seconds Saloni’s view. She says, “Raising a well mannered, emotionally secure and a happy child is the dream of all parents. However, there seems to be a lot of challenges to these seemingly simple goals.”
She lists down four significant factors that are posing a major challenge in parenting and they are:
- Exposure to technology– smartphones, iPad, and tablets are fast replacing hide and seek, hopscotch and playing ball. The importance of unstructured outdoor (pre-lockdown days) play seems to have almost disappeared, taking with it all benefits of creative play, social skills, and conflict resolution. All the critical skills learned by children while interacting with other toddlers.
- Food habits– with junk food and instant pre-cooked meals, it is a challenge for parents to ensure a balanced diet for children.
- TV time– the one boon and bane of our generation. Ironically, we use a TV like a ‘virtual babysitter” as per our need & once the child gets used to the colorful moving images, we complain about too much screen time!
- Inculcating good manners – Sorry, Thank You and the values of caring and sharing, these seem simple, but it remains a challenge since unstructured social interaction itself is limited now.
- Safety– With increasingly reported cases of child molestation, the safety of our little ones has become a paramount challenge. Imagine explaining ‘good touch and bad touch’ to a 4-year-old, the age of innocence is getting shorter every day.
What experts have to say
While we heard of what the parents had to say, take a look at what the professionals in the field of child care and development have to say –
Consulting Psychologist and Psychotherapist, Dr. Kashissh A Chhabriaa shares, “Keeping calm when your child is misbehaving, handling peer pressure, classes all the way…which class to opt for, academics v/s extracurricular and several opinions about the upbringing of a child in a join family, the list of parenting challenges in present times is endless!”
Dwani Shah, an Occupational Therapist who mainly works with children, shares the following list of the major challenges faced by parents –
- Handling tantrums of the child or disciplining the child is a big challenge for parents these days.
- Finding quality time to spend with their child, especially if both the parents are working.
iii. Enhancing independence of the child in their daily task activities, for example, feeding on their own, making a time-table for the school or making schedules and managing their time.
- Technology taking over physical games or social-interactive games.
- Social pressure. Best schools, best classes, my child should be an all-rounder who knows everything.
She shares, “This is not only increasing the mental and physical burden of the child but also the burden on the parent’s pocket.”
Effects of electronic media
Senior pediatrician Dr. Nita Jagad MD (Paediatrics) DCH shares from her years of experience that these days children being exposed to media and gadgets and have access to unsupervised internet, television programs. The television now is used more of an ‘electronic baby sitter’, especially while feeding a child or soothing a crying child. This reduces the child’s active conversation with a parent.
She further adds, too much of audio-video at an early age can affect the speech and language development of a child. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to long hours of TV can also read to poor reading skills. She even cautions that over-exposure to electronic media can have an impact on the reading, talking and imagination skills of children.
Older kids who are into social media and spend hours having ‘electronic friends’, land up having poor relationships and are less empathetic towards others.
As parents, we need to restrict television viewing. The fast-changing pictures/ images on the screen stimulate the child and their concentration capacity is greatly reduced, which can also make them hyperactive and aggressive.
The kind of media we are exposed to right from the internet with newspapers covering disturbing reports and articles on rape, murder, accidents, terror attacks is also constantly being bombarded to the children.
As a conscious parent, try and ensure that you help children to analyse and interpret the news accordingly.
Effects of Competition and Stress
Dr. Nita also points out another important factor – that’s competition and stress. She says, “Most parents push their children into competition, academic excellence by sending them for tuitions and classes without giving any importance to their capabilities and aptitudes. As a result, the children become bored and need to be pushed by their parents to do well but with no internal motivation. So they land up studying to get good marks with no fun to learning.”
She further adds, “We see education as a means of earning and success to get admission to a premier institute as then we feel that it will give them the necessary happiness. But is this all necessary for happiness?”
In the process of pushing our children to excel, we’re forgetting to instill the value of empathy into them. Owing to the excessive stress and competition that they go through adds to the pressure and we land up producing stressed individuals who don’t know how to vent out their feelings – because ‘feelings’ is something that is not as important anymore.
She emphasises on the fact that learning should be a joyful experience, without any destination, instead of an ongoing process. Learning through fun and games will also help them stimulate their thinking and analytical skills.
Poor relationship skills and loneliness
Children are unfortunately becoming self-centred, selfish and impulsive and are not able to maintain friendships. This makes them stressed out as they’re unable to handle the pressure.
Since we do a lot of over-parenting and are so over-protective of our children that they don’t learn how to problem solve on their own.
Over-parenting/ Helicopter Parenting
On the other hand, there’s something that we Indian parents always run the risk of over-parenting which is often called Helicopter Parenting.
As Dipali Ved, a skilled parenting workshop facilitator points out, “Parents are overly concerned with the safety of their children, so much so, that children are not allowed to take basic risks while playing or learning to do new things. This could make children fearful and over cautious and it could also make them unduly dependent on external help.
What she suggests is that ‘parents should mostly help by not helping’. Parents should view their children as separate entities who are capable of learning, failing and growing.
This is one trend that has arisen in the recent future that is dangerous for our kids. This is due to the rise in the number of working mothers, baby helpers available to hover around children all the time and fewer children per parent.
In the earlier days, parents let their children be as they believed in the notion that children grow up anyways.
Behaviour problems in children
Parents find it very hard to handle children’s behaviour and temper tantrums. Dr. Nita further adds, “I’ve often find parents get stressed out about this issue and the real issue is that the children are not able to recoginse their own emotions and hence are not able to manage them, let alone verbalize their feelings and express it in an appropriate way. They have become so busy with their routine that they don’t get time to learn about handling their emotions. Gradually what happens is that they get used to not sharing or not communicate their emotions and land up spending a lot of time in front of the electronic media that makes them bottle up their feelings inside.
What you can do to work on this aspect is to spend quality time with your children and accept their emotions and feelings. Guide them through their negative feelings and emotions as well. Teach them about emotions and how to recognise them and express themselves correctly. Most importantly, prepare them to face failures and rejections – as it is also a part of life and a learning process.
Positive and negative trends
As an Occupational Therapist, Dwani Shah points out to us the positive and negative trends in present-day parenting.
Positive– Parents are allowing the child to have their own approach towards life rather than forcing theirs on the child and allowing them to have an opinion from an early age.
Negative– Providing them with an unstructured environment. Yes, it’s good to set your child free but it’s also necessary to provide them with the direction in which they are supposed to go. An unstructured environment is allowing the child to do whatever they wish and behave however they want, which is leading to behavioral issues, tantrums and indiscipline. It’s the early tender time when you can mould the pot, once it becomes hard you have to accept it the way it is and it is potter’s responsibility to mould it correctly when it goes out of shape.
Positive– Punishment is gradually declining and studies have proved that punishment has never helped in making your child a better person.
Negative – The meaning of spending quality time with the child has changed. Malls, theatres, restaurants have taken over parks, beaches and zoos. Things have become more materialistic like a father coming home with a Playstation will be welcomed more happily than a father coming home with a book and this is not kids fault as they have been seeing the world like that since childhood, but what shall we make our child see since they were an infant is in our hand again.
For the Bayside Journal.
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