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I was just going through a beautiful article by a new dad of how he tried to stay away from social media on fathers day and spend some quality time with his family. He started to share of how we as parents, many times forget the importance of responding and reacting with our children. There's a very thin line between the two, but a huge difference. A reaction is typically quick, without much thought, tense and aggressive. A response is thought out, calm and non-threatening. A reaction typically provokes more reactions – perpetuating a long line of hatefulness with nothing accomplished.
Have we ever wondered what influence each one has on our children? This article made me share my experience and views on it. As parents, we are raising lives, we are creating humans for the rest of their lives and each of us wants to give the best of ourselves to them. It was just day before while I was shopping grocery at the supermarket with my 16 months old daughter. She's recently started to try throwing tantrums to see how her parents react or rather respond :) so while I was shopping, she tried to pick a glass bottle from the shelf to which I politely refused and stopped her from trying that. She tried again and I was more subtle this time but then she started to yell and wanted to do it. I calmly told her she can continue to shout as long as she wants and I have no objection. While, the rest of the customers started staring and their throwing glances at both of us. But I didn't bother a bit. My point was clear, I don't want my daughter to suppress her emotions. Not that I want her to learn to yell and misbehave in public places, but our instant reaction as parents would be either to shut the child up by raising our voice or give what the child wants even if it's wrong so we get spared from the embarrassment. But why should we be embarrassed in the first place? Your child isn't committing a crime. He or she needs to know the difference between right and wrong, that's what we want to teach them rather than reacting to their behavior and not letting them know what they are doing is not apt for them. If my daughter was a little more grown up, I would have tried to explain to her why she cannot do a thing. And try to repeat myself with patience as many times.
I know it's very easy to say things like this, while as parents we get very tired trying to give our best and be patient round the clock and answer and teach hundreds of things, but I have been learning that this is what parenthood is all about. The more we react, the more we are worsening the situation between our children and us. Responding to a situation is the need of the hour. It will simplify things to great levels and teach what's needed. It's very important to let the child's emotional development happen through such experiences. They will themselves learn to mold their thoughts and actions. You don't have to tell them things like, 'you're embarrassing me or don't cry, stop shouting, most importantly that people are watching'. They don't make sense to them and trust me children don't care as much as we care about what others think about them. Thats how it should be.
Our children are learning and processing so much information and they don't know what to do with all of these new feelings that come up. I try to remember to make sure my daughter knows it's OK that she feels deeply. It's not embarrassing to me when she throws tantrums in the grocery store, or screams on a plane. Let's not be embarrassed for our children. It doesn't reflect on us. In fact.. we should probably be a little more kind and patient with ourselves too. Lastly, there are no perfect parents in the world, but one thing my mom always taught me was to not parent based on what anyone else thinks. She always let me feel what I needed to feel, even if it was in public and embarrassing. And I'm going to do exactly this with my daughter.
Learn To Respond Today.... Cheers!