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The sight of worried parents sitting in the psychiatrist’s clinic with their kids is commonplace today. The question that very commonly comes up during such discussions is whether there is anything wrong with their parenting style. Today, we are going to discuss the basics of modern-day parenting.

The common challenges parents face

  • Limited manpower – With the advent of nuclear families, we no longer have grandparents, uncles and aunts around the house. Hence, the burden of parenting rests solely on parents and the hired help.
  • Multitasking – When both parents are working, they have to juggle their workplace and home regularly. Micromanaging so many things with so little support become quite difficult.
  • Long absence – The child usually spends a major part of the day with the hired help or at daycare facilities. The parents’ absence for so many hours is a major hurdle to the child-parent bonding.
  • The ubiquitous internet – Children get hooked to smartphones, computers and online gaming at a tender age. This makes them averse to socialization and decreases their concentration abilities drastically.
  • Diluted boundaries – Growing up in nuclear families means children are privy to all that transpires between their parents. If parents squabble often, the child picks up on the trend. It then becomes very difficult to discipline the child.
  • Competitive academic environment – Every child is made part of the rat race to excel in academics at all costs at a very tender age. Lessons become less fun and more of a daunting task.
  • Lack of outdoor games – Children rarely go to parks and playgrounds on a regular basis nowadays. The lack of outdoor play areas, suitable playmates and the constant academic pressure are the reasons most parents come up with for this.

The child’s perspective

It is important to understand that the child is growing up with very little time and attention from family members, relying on the television and internet for recreation, and under a constant pressure to excel. Anxiety, depression, defiant behavior and internet addiction are the natural byproducts of this.

The solution

  • Boundary setting – It is important to set boundaries between the child and parents such that the child is not a witness to couple fights, disagreements or adult conversations. This apart, it is essential that parents take some time apart to enjoy quality time with each other, so that the couple’s bonding remains strong.
  • Quality time – Children crave attention from parents. If they feel ignored, the parent-child bond deteriorates rapidly. It is necessary to set apart an hour or two everyday where the family bonds together. During this time, every member should be present, physically and mentally, sans their ubiquitous gadgets. If this is a regular practice in the household, children feel loved and cared for, even if the parents have spent the greater part of the day at their workplace.
  • Modelling – Children learn best by example. For instance, it is not enough to tell them that too much internet time is bad. Parents need to keep a tab on their smartphone time as well.
  • Communication – All communication between child and parents should be clear and direct. Care should be taken that the child does not receive contradictory instructions from different adults in the family. Parents should remember that demeaning or criticizing each other in front of the kids is a strict no-no. It is also a good idea to verbally appreciate the child’s efforts regularly.
  • Rewards – Children learn better when they receive conditional rewards for their good behavior. The incentives could be trivial things like the child’s favorite dish or extra half-hour play-time. But the conditions should be regular and non-negotiable. In case of bad behavior, the reward is simply withheld instead of punishing the child.
  • Recreation – The game time for the child should be physical rather than virtual. Daily physical activity and outdoor games should be encouraged, even if that means half hour less study time. Discipline, good behavior, co-operation and socialization are better learnt on the field than at home.

In summary, we should reflect on the child’s emotional needs in today’s fast-paced world when rearing them so that they grow up to be emotionally-stable, confident individuals.