Letting Grow

Any growth is a change. Children also go through this change in various ways not just age. Question is are we growing as parents?

A mother thought that she had a very disobedient and naughty child. She used to close the child in a storeroom when the situation went out of hand. One day as she was taking her child to shut in the store, a realization dawned to her. Instead of shoving him inside the store, she entered with him inside the store and said, “Son, I have a huge apology to make. It is my fault that you are so disobedient. You were not born this way. This is the way I have brought you up to be. Please forgive me. I am going to try to be a better mother for you. As part of the promise, I will stay in the store with you today”.

“That’s not so. I am bad. Really I am the one who is bad,” cried the child and clung to his mother, as both cried.

Adapted from a wonderful book by Sinnichi Suzuki called ‘Ability development from age Zero’

While there are millions of books on child behavior, somehow nobody seems to write books on parent behavior. This is when these books keep on reiterating that it’s the parent behavior that directly influences the child behavior. Ladies and gentleman, are we above evaluation?

Perhaps it will do good to all our children, if we were to heed to Carl Jung’s advice: “If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.”

Perhaps it will do good to you if you were to take a pause now, stop reading any further, and contemplate the above vis-à-vis all those things that you want your child to change, all those that you would like him or her to develop.

However, if you need, here is a guide on how to do it

1. Let’s start with tendering an unconditional apology to our child (just like what the mother above did). We need to own it up, we need to establish responsibility. Just doing this will suddenly make us feel liberated and buoyant, as now the locus of effectiveness is within me.

2. Consider “Letting Go” as the first strategy: If the child sucks her thumb, can we stop bothering her over it. How many 20 year olds you have seen that suck their thumb? And even if you do see one, chances are that child was nagged at least 20 times in a day, for 20 years, not to suck her thumb. Most children grow out of “disturbing habits” and acquire reasonable behaviors naturally. The more we try, the more we lose; the more we let, the more we get.

3. Consider “Letting Be” as the second strategy: Often, as children grow, we do not grow with them. Result we still instruct a 10 year old ‘when to sleep’ just like we used to do when he was five years old. If you want the child to be independent, give him a chance to learn to be independent. Only then he will become independent. So if you want your child to be responsible, let her be responsible for her health, for her work for her getting up, etc. If you want your child to be patient then don’t hurry up things when the child makes unreasonable demands. If you want your child to be caring, let the child take care of you – do not dismiss her to be ‘just a child’.

4. Consider “Letting See” as the third strategy: Role modeling is an obvious approach, but often children get to see the contrary experiences. Check out how many times have your child seen you angry-out-of-control, or lying (even if white), or shirking from responsibility, or being uncaring. There was a poster on a traffic signal which read “If you jump this signal, remember your child behind is watching you!”

5. Consider “Letting Understand” as the fourth strategy: Here I do not mean with academic understanding but understanding life and the world around us. Understanding that saying thank you is nice, understanding that when we care for others, they care for us, understanding that being punctual helps, understanding that sometimes one needs to keep quiet while sometimes some should speak up, understanding of all the lessons of life. Somehow we are in a hurry to teach and preach, trying to make a perfect human being, out of our child at the age of eight! Not realizing that some of the life lessons cannot be taught but learned through experiences (and realization). And our job as parents is just to facilitate that realization (and not to lecture them).

6. Consider “Letting Fail” as the fifth strategy: Normal Douglas said, “There are some things you can’t learn from others. You have to pass through the fire”.

Children need to get into the habit of failing and then getting up again. Two most common words one hears from children is “I Can’t”. The reason most people are not successful or are not achievers is not that they do not have the capabilities, but they simply do not have the courage to try. And they do not try because of “fear of failure” All because nobody trained them in failing, in learning from failure and using failure as the surest stepping stone to success. All because failure was laughed at, failure was looked down upon and failure was immediately attended to (by parents). If you gonna climb a mountain, you got to start at the bottom – not air lifted to the top!

Perhaps one should look at these strategies not as substitutes of each other, but working in tandem. Remember if you expect your child to be disobedient, so he will be; if you expect your child to be responsible so he will be. For maximum effect, remember what Gandhiji said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.

But there is one more strategy that one should consider, if at all i can call it a strategy – i should call it a way of life. To read click here