By: Dr. Anjana Thadani
Perfection is the price we pay for evolution. We are all constantly striving to improvise in the diverse roles we play. The secret desire to be a perfect wife, homemaker is at the bottom of all. The role of a mother has changed with time. Our grandmothers were the homely lot who could cook a great sumptuous meal and solved our day to day problems. They were always available to hear us out. The next generation seemed more empowered but still the focus was essentially the HOME. They did go out to work and made their mark but also stayed back when needed. The mom today is truly the ‘super mom’. The family dynamics and the demands on the mother are astronomical now.
The challenge today is to carve responsible and compassionate individuals out of our little cute ones. The prime responsibility of raising and disciplining the children stays largely with mother. To get the point across with children requires effective and skilful interaction. Moms desperately want to build rapport with their children, while children are lost in their friends or gadgets and are happy with minimal need-based communication. So, the first thing the mom has to do is to get tacky and techno savvy. Talk the same language, more likely you would get along. Believe me these gadgets are not as scary as they appear and if you spend some time with them you get the hang of it. Another possibility is discovering some common interests with your child like sports, fashion etc. Also doing things together with the child gets you in their good books. It could be cooking a special dish, helping in their craft work or typing their school assignments for them. Gradually the conversation will drift from brief question and answer sessions to a friendly chat. The depth of the conversation can be navigated accordingly. If you share your little childhood secrets, the child may also do the same.
Availability is an important factor in getting closer and an important constraint in case of working mothers. The child should be told about your work schedule and in which manner the child can contact you if needed. This helps in building trust and confidence. The child will usually wait to share with you. Deadlines with respect to your children need to be observed strictly. The key to being a perfect mom lies in setting the priorities right.
Discipline still is needed. If you get too friendly the children tend to take the advise lightly. If you nag anyways they show defiance. The trick here is correct balance. Be firm and communicate your expectations regarding issues like use of mobile at night, appropriate clothing, internet access. Avoid too many ‘NO’s in day to day handling of children. But stick to your rules once they are laid. In younger children it is easier to set limits and gently cajole them into following them. But as they get older, it gets difficult. Arguments and constant comparisons with peers, may make you lose the edge. Remember the moment you get angry you have lost all you gained with numerous rapport building exercises. The mantra is to bargain and set the rules with mutual consent. Be flexible sometimes and set a grey zone to lower your own stress levels.
Also, it is imperative that you stay in control. You cannot afford sudden outbursts even if you are furious. Usually it scares a child, and if this behaviour is too often, the children learn to ignore this unpleasant occurrence. Best is to take time out before the situation gets out of control. Remember the children are like little monkeys and all they do is to ‘APE’ our behaviour. We need to be better behaved if we want our kids to do the same.
It is important to notice and try to change the unacceptable behaviour early. Discuss with your spouse, family or friends and make sure that every adult is more or less communicating the same message regarding acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. Also, we need to keep in mind that behavioural problems could be secondary to an underlying condition like hyperactivity, autism, learning problems etc. So, the sooner we accept the more likely we will respond to the needs and cause of the behaviour. Observe for a while and seek professional help with a counsellor if needed. Counselling is usually centred around understanding the child and environment responsible for behavioural concerns.
Dr. Anjana Thadani is Consulting Developmental Pediatrician, Director, Niramaya Hospitals Mumbai / Navi Mumbai