By Pallavi Sahu
The story of the potato, the eggs, and the bean is a famous story of life lessons given by a father to his daughter when she came defeated and lost all hopes in life. In this story, the father took three different pots of boiling water- to put the potato, the eggs, and the beans. All three had faced the same adversity. Yet, they came out differently.
The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it becomes soft and weak. The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard. However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After beans got exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something else. In life, episodes happen around us, but the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us. Which one are you?
I like to extract another message from this story where children perform the role of potatoes, eggs, and beans here. And our age-old application of the same parenting style to all is boiling water. Different children would react differently with the same parenting style. As children are so diverse from each other-so should be the parenting style, depending on the personality trait of your child.
Some children get scared with a loud noise and are quiet, some are very emotional and sensitive, yet others are difficult to shake. Some are dreamers throughout the day. Others are naughty yet sensible when the situation arises. When harsh words are used or beaten, some become too stubborn to manage. Yet another one makes it a point to do the opposite of what you expect, leaving you exhausted and helpless.
Firstly, try to understand by posing few questions to yourselves-Who is he/she? What makes him/her happy? What brings sadness to their face? Why is he/she so quiet all the time? Is there anything they don’t like about me or my style of dealing with them? What makes my child scared? Or, does he/she get angry when you scold? Do I give a reason for my actions as a parent? Try to answer the questions to start the journey of happy, joyful, peaceful, and stress-free parenting, where parents are not seen as threatening figures.
We, adults, are inclined to look at all the situations only from our perspective because we are adults. Children are growing with each passing day. While dealing with our adolescents, we need to look from their perspective too-reason out-give their opinion a shot to make them feel valued. Be friends with them to enter their world-keeping vigilant eye of a parent open and alert.
Talk to your child about every aspect of human interaction-physical, emotional, social. We need to remember that children are learning about human anatomy-and curious minds tend to explore. If your child poses a question, do not negate it as a matter of shame. If you don’t provide answers, they will find out thanks to information overload. However, whether the information gathered is appropriate or not-we don’t know. Children should get timely education from a reliable source in an age-appropriate manner.
In these unprecedented times of covid, children are invisible victims. Children might not have lost their livelihood like many of us, but what they are losing cannot be returned – their childhood years. One year passed just like that at home. Again, the second wave of covid has started with more force, more damage, more anxiousness, more fear of the unknown.
Children have two vital work to do to fulfill their lives-Play and Study. Unfortunately, both have been taken away from them since last year due to covid. Physical classes took a backseat, with online mode became the norm. Time to play is taken away by being locked inside the home due to fear of the unknown. No friends to play with (play, socialization are a crucial part of the overall development of the child)-all by himself/herself at home with family members.
At home, what children have been exposed to, is the persistent storm of covid related news. Unknowingly, we are instilling immense fear in their innocent minds.
Sometime back, a child, aged five, shared her fear-she is afraid of the spike-shaped corona picture displayed all over news channels, internet everywhere. She was terrified that it would enter inside her stomach (those spike-shaped covid representations). Yet another child shared-what, if something happens to my family-such thoughts, fabricated into anxiousness all the time (She lost her neighbor due to covid). I came across a similar concern from a few children-they are being exposed to unprecedented fights and bitterness between parents at home.
Famous Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
The things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
Which should be changed,
And the wisdom to distinguish
The one from another.
Now, when we know that there is no choice but to be at home with children and all the other family members. Moreover, when we cannot control the situation, we need to make changes in our day-to-day schedule. For instance, it is okay to keep your television switched on in the background- till you were alone in your company at home. But we cannot follow the same routine when children are at home-on-line classes or no classes.
Restrain yourself from watching covid related news all the time. We all know the situation is becoming worse. Nevertheless, at the same time, we also are very well aware of what we need to do to break the chain to stop the virus from spreading like wildfire. So, isn’t it better to spend quality time with your children to understand him/her better than adding on to their anxiousness?
De-stress the child by inculcating the habit of mindful meditation-preaching never works. To help him learn to meditate, set an example by practicing.
Whenever you feel like shouting at your child because of anger, take a pause-pause to think-why is he not listening? What might be the reason? Try to find out. Always remember one day children are going to enter adulthood-they will remember how you make them feel- loved, neglected, ignored, fearful, or worthless.
Talk to your children about life skills. We all learned about different concepts in schools-how to handle studies. Nevertheless, no one taught us how to manage life challenges- What skills will equip you to handle life’s conflicts, problems without feeling overwhelmed.
Recent study found that impact of covid on adolescent girls are manifold. They are grappling with the increased pressure to get married, spent longer hours on household chores, lacked tools to continue school education on-line, and reported an increase in gender based violence. Almost 90% of girls reported experiencing mental distress and despair without any access to information about coping mechanism.
Have patience and be kind to your children. We all are going through difficult times due to covid. Thinking from their perspective will be beneficial. You might feel stress-free once you are showing patience. Everyone wants to be loved and considered.
Children will connect with you totally without guards, only when you make an effort to enter his/her world and when you make the child feels precious. You can only connect deeply through love-unconditional love-no force, no anger, no abuse-just a step forward to understand your child through his eyes. You get good marks-I will buy you what you say-is not unconditional regard. Love should not have any reason to bind it. Love is divine alchemy. It has the power to transform-be it into a child or any other person. Love always transforms us to be a better version of ourselves.
Let us spread love. Together we shall fight to win over the fear of the unknown.
Stay safe and healthy,
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