The color, symbolizes the sun, the eternal source of energy. It spreads warmth, optimism, enlightenment. It is the liturgical color of deity Saraswati - the goddess of knowledge.
The shape, neither a perfect circle nor a perfect square, gives freedom from any fixed pattern of thoughts just like the mind and creativity of a child. It reflects eternal whole, infinity, unity, integrity & harmony.
The ' child' within, reflects our child centric philosophy; the universal expression to evolve and expand but keeping a child’s interests and wellbeing at the central place.
The name, "Maa Sharda;" is a mother with divinity, simplicity, purity, enlightenment and healing touch, accommodating all her children indifferently. This venture itself is an offering to her........
This essay was written for National essay competition- Mind-apple, organized by Indian Academy of Pediatricians in 2005 and was awarded the consolation prize.
Why good parenting is required?
Pooja and Ravi have been happily married since 2 years. They wish for a child and soon are blessed with a healthy boy. They receive the greatest gift of life. Their world is filled with joy and wonder of having a miracle of their love and life. They dream of the child becoming a good boy. They love him, spare time for him, earn for him, and care for him. He grows up and today is his 5th birthday. Instead of a mammas boy he has turned out a spoiled brat. Ravi and Pooja laments. They think back to find out what is wrong with their rearing up? After all they are trying their best. This is the usual story in most of our lives. How can we become good parents? What makes the children turn out the way they are? We are light years away from having all the answers, though we do have some partial clues. Is our future laid out at birth by the many traits we inherit? Or is each of us a “clean slate” that waits being written on? The nature verses nurture controversy continues. Children are born with varying intellectual capabilities, temperament and biological inheritance… Also the individuals themselves react differently to the same hereditary league (as in identical twins).
Our fore fathers reared number of children without any knowledge or training of child rearing. For them bringing up children was a natural phenomenon. With large families and hard life there was no time or concept about parenting skills. There were grandparents in the joint family system who took up the role of looking after children and teaching them family tradition and values. This type of system had pros and cons. There was an advantage that parents always had someone around them to guide and help them but such families often use the age old methods like scolding, punishing and often hitting the children for maintaining the family discipline. Today in the recent trend of nuclear families and both parent working, knowledge about child rearing and good parenting skills becomes inevitable.
How to learn about good parenting?
Good parenting is an art. Parents do need education. At the same time they need to gain enough self-confidence in their own parentive abilities. They don’t have to raise their children “by the book” but can instead evaluate the opinion of experts, use what seems helpful and disregard the rest. They should know that each child is unique. A most encouraging movement in modern parent education can be the offering of classes in parenthood to college students. These courses should give young people idea of what parenthood involves, help them decide when to have children and if they do decide, to aid them in giving some thought ahead of time the issues that are likely to arise. Also pediatricians can spare some time to guide parents in understanding their child’s behavior and development. Parent support groups can be set up under the guidance of child psychologists for special problems like disabled child, hyperactive child, etc.
Contribution in child behavior and parenting
Preparations before parenting
Although the human life span legally begins at the moment of birth, birth is merely an interruption of the developmental pattern that started at the moment of conception. The health of the mother and her emotional status during pregnancy play important role in postnatal adjustment of the infant. Maternal stress cause a hyperactive state of the fetus which tends to persist after birth as feeding difficulties, failure to gain weight, sleep problems, general irritability. For maternal stress it can be said that the child born of such an unsatisfactory enviornment does not have to wait until childhood for a bad home situation to make him neurotic. It was done for him before he even saw the light of day. Mother should take good nutritious diet, enough sleep, regular light exercise, relaxed mind and proper medical advice. Avoid smoking both active as well as passive. Parental attitudes affect the development of child to a great extent. This is truer for the mother because she is the one who takes major care of the child. Any anxiety about normalcy of the infant or feeling of guilt will have unfavourable effects on parent infant relationship. If the Mother is not happy about having a baby or if the baby is not of desired sex, this will be sensed if not understood by infant. Even favourable attitudes of the parents may become unfavourable after the baby is born. First, due to frustration of not being able to handle and care a helpless newborn. Second, instead of their dream child they end up with an ugly looking, frequently crying baby.
Welcoming the newborn
Prepare in advance about the care of your older children. Try to give maximum time to your new baby. Love lies at the core of infant parent relationship. It should be constant no matter how the child looks, how he behaves or how his health is. Start breast feeding as soon as possible. Besides many factors of biological importance it gives your baby plenty of love and comfort. Breast feeding facilitates the formation of mother infant bond. However the quality of the relationship between mother and infant is more important then the feeding method in promoting healthy development. Keep aside all your worries and just cuddle, rock your baby. Take enough rest yourself. Understanding emotions of newborn is necessary. Adjust to the baby’s own demand of feeding. Artificial feeding schedule cause frustration and lead to injection of the food and predisposes the baby to often emotional upset. Respond promptly to his cry. You will soon be able to tell the reason of his crying. Don’t panic if you don’t find any reason for your baby’s cry. Remember that neonates’ responses are without gradations.
Your nervousness may get transmitted in your action and may cause more discomfort and more cry. Most babies like soft voices, pleasant lighting, colourful surroundings. Arrange for these in your baby’s room. Buy clothing that is easy to put on, soft, appropriate to the season. Check the crib for sharp points or edges that may hurt. Father and other family members should participate equally in rituals like bathing, comforting. Take care for the baby’s health. Take the first visit to your pediatrician as soon as possible. Follow his advice regarding healthcare and vaccination.
Preparing other child for the new arrival
A child more than four years could be told directly. For a younger child it might be difficult to understand. Showing pictures, other newborns and telling him that he is going to be big brother would help. Reassure that he will be loved as much. Including him in the preparations will help him cope the sibling rivalry. Avoid any major changes like toilet training or starting a playhouse during this time. Don’t get upset if the child behaves younger for age. Reserve some special time each day for him. Read, play games, talk with him, show interest in his activities.
Parenting an infant
Infancy is a critical age, dangerous age and appealing age. Infancy is an age of early brain development. The first years last forever. Early identification of developmental problems can be usefully treated. To let the child grow and develop to his full potential let the child feel special, loved & valued, safe, confident. Responding immediately to your baby’s demand at this age will not spoil him. Even a small child can sense and become troubled with problems in the family. Resolve all conflicts quickly. Expose him to diverse enviornment filled with language, play, music, appropriate toys. Sing to him while dressing, bathing. Strong desire to explore environment is not held in check by knowledge of possible harm and as a result the baby is prone to accidents. Let the child explore the enviornment with you setting a balance between freedom and limits. Direct face to face communication helps language development. Call him by his name. Infancy is the foundation year for many behavior patterns.
This is good time to establish your authority at the same time be careful not to overreact. He is still not enough to misbehave intentionally. Transitional object and thumb sucking usually begin at 8 to12 months. It gives reassurance, is normal, natural way for comfort and relaxation. Contrary to the belief it is not a sign of insecurity. It will gradually disappear as the child matures and finds other ways to cope with stress. Parents can infact help selecting safe toy or blanket as transitional object. It should be two identical objects so that one can be replaced while other is away for washing. Weaning to semisolid food should be gradual around six months. To avoid prolongation of infantile feeding use cup to drink. Allow self feeding with spoon by 9 to 10 months, though most of the time it will end up in spillage.
Parenting a toddler (1-3 years)
This is an age of “terrible two”. Helplessness and dependency of infancy appeal to parents. Gradually it is replaced by ability to do things for himself. Unfortunately, the parents cannot or do not adjust their concept of the baby’s abilities quickly enough to keep pace with his development. As a result the baby is frustrated in his attempts to do the things he can and wants to do. This makes him resistant. Help him learn walking, climbing. Don’t leave him alone as this is the age prone to most childhood accidents. Begin to explain safety in simple terms. As your toddler explores the many parts of his body, he will naturally discover his genitals. He will just touch it because it will feel good. Masturbation may cause erections in boys. If you show a strong negative reaction, he will get the message that there is something wrong with his body part and his self. Wait until he is older to teach him about privacy and modesty. Gender identification begins at this age. He is a great imitator. Present yourself as a good model. Brief separation from you at this time will help him become more independent. Don’t show if you are upset by this separation. Leave him with a kiss and promise to return. Devote your full attention when you come back. Listen to and answer his questions. Also ask questions to stimulate decision-making process. A toddler has a limited idea about good and bad. Have realistic expectations for his behaviour. Establish priorities and set rules gradually. Never punish or hit. It will hurt the child physically and more important emotionally. It will send a wrong message that it is okay to shout at or hit someone if you are angry.
The child may continue his misbehaviour to get attention in the form of punishment. Temper tantrums are common age dependent phenomena at this time, deal them with calmness and consistency. Also many children seem hyperactive at this age. Don’t restrict the child from jumping, dancing, and climbing. Give him many opportunities to release his excess energy. Limit his television viewing. Give him plenty of choices in appropriate situations. Eating: Like everyone your toddler also loves sweets. It is your duty to restrict sweets for providing a nutritious diet and promote growth, not tooth decay. Avoid adding sugar to his food; keep sweets out of his sight. If feeding bottle is used it should be given up by eighteen months. Parents should realize that at this age his appetite is no longer as ravenous as it was in the early part of infancy, partly because his growth rate has slowed down and partly because he has now developed marked food likes and dislikes. This is the age when “eating problems” reach their peak because of family pressures on the child to eat and the child’s stubborn resistance. Parents can help by preparing food so as to appeal the taste of child, presenting in an attractive manner, not forcing a fixed quantity at fixed time, giving choice or alternative. During the end of second year allow use of unbreakable cup, glass. Initial chaotic feeding pattern will get over by third birthday. Toilet training should begin after 2 years of age. Before that there may not be enough motor skill or bowel-bladder control. Begin when he shows sign of imitating adults and prefers independence. Praise him for success while not mentioning his mistakes. Make the entire process positive, natural and nonthreatening.
Sometimes the child may fiddle with the urine or stool. This is normal for him because it is his possession. Being too harsh may cause emotional upset and in severe cases may end up in retention. At bed time your toddler may become rigid about going-to-sleep ritual. Resistance to sleep in time is mainly due to the typical negativism of this age. For some children this “bed time battle” is actually an attempt to attract attention. Let your child make as many choices as possible at bed time. This helps him relaxing, which is essential for a sound sleep. Your child’s behavior patterns begin to establish during the second year. Naturally aggressive child may turn their energy toward violent behaviour like biting or hitting. Give him plenty of positive outlets for diverting his energy through physical play and exercise. Set consistent limits. Supervise him when he is with other children. Be sure to praise him when he gets through a play session without any problem. Do not hit or punish. If your child is shy allow him to move at his own individual pace. Ridiculing will only make a shy child more insecure. Various fears of ghosts, monsters, and darkness are common at this age. Eliminate the source of fear. Be close to him during the frightening situation. Help your child overcome such fears gradually.
Parenting a pre schooler (3-5 years)
The terrible twos are officially over and the magic years begin. Your child has now learned to express himself. He has sympathy for you and wants to please you. Parents should remember that healthy child is happy. Look after diet, sleep, rest and play. When the child is ill avoid giving the impression that it is causing you inconvience and expenses. He should not feel guilty for the situation which is not in his control. Parents should recognize some behaviours that are age limited and ignore them. Guiding child in getting along with other children helps child being acceptable in their group and makes them happy. Take interest in his activities and be proud of his achievements. Be happy yourself and create a happy atmosphere in home. With muscular and mental development he can hop, climb stairs up and down, kick, and throw a ball and catch. He is mastering precise movements. This is the age of questioning. Do not inhibit his curiosity by giving negative answers like you are too small to understand such matters or you will know it when you will grow older. Give answers in a manner that child understands; like if he asks you why the sun sets in night? Don’t try to explain the science but answer that he is tired in the evening and goes to sleep. Find books of his interests. Take the advantage of his curiosity in broadening his knowledge. Help him create friendship with other children. Show him that you understand his feelings. Show him by your own example how to deal with conflicts. Help him see the situation from the other child’s point of view. This is also an age of fantasy. They have “phantom friends” or “pretend playmates”. This does not signal loneliness or emotional upset; they are actually a very creative way of your child to sample different activities. Try to join your child in the fantasy play.
Little bit of lying and boasting about possessions are healthy at this age. Before punishing your child for lying understand the motive. If he confesses, remain calm. This will help revealing the truth next time. Check yourselves; is he copying your behaviour? If punishing is absolutely required give him the clear message that he is not bad but it is the misbehaviour for which he is being punished. It is important that the whole family agrees to and follows a same pattern of child rearing. Language improves to talking in small sentences with some basic rules of grammar. Stuttering is common at this age and should be ignored. Learning to read can be started at this age but only after he shows interest. Help him with educational television, games, and songs. Involve yourself. Take him out to zoo, museum. Respect his special interest like if he is interested in art; take him to art museum or a visit to an artist. It is the right time at this age to get your child ready for nursery or play-house. Help him feel the love of other people in this beautiful world.
Current styles of parenting
Authoritacian parent try to control their children’s behaviour and attitudes and make them conform to absolute standard of conduct. They punish their children forcefully for acting contrary to parental standards. Their children are more discontent, withdrawn, and distrustful.
Permissive parents make few demands, allow their children to regulate their own activities as much as possible. They explain their children the reasons underlying the few family rules that do exist and hardly ever punish. Their children are immature, least self controlled and the least exploratory.
Authoritative parents try to regulate their children’s activities rationally. They exert firm control when necessary, explaining the reason behind their stands. They are loving, consistent, demanding and respectful of their child’s independent decisions, but they are firm in maintaining standards and willing to impart limited punishment. These children are the most self-reliant, self-controlled, self-assertive, exploring and content.
In infancy activity is limited to grasping toys. Parents should give careful consideration in selection of toys. Toys appropriate for this age are mobile with contrast colours, music boxes, non-toxic teethers. Select toys that can be easily manipulated with one hand with no detachable parts and that are rounded and smooth. Toys that encourage reaching like the one that emits sound on pressing help infants to understand cause and effect relationship. Once infants have mastered touch toys (such as rattles and teething beads) a toy that no longer satisfies him should be removed and a new challenge presented. Games like peek-a-boo also eventually enable infants to understand object permanency. At 9-10 months your baby will enjoy building blocks, squeeze toys, push-pull toys, balls of different sizes, toy telephones. For a toddler books with large pictures, jig-saw puzzles, digging toys, connecting toys, child key boards, and unbreakable containers are helpful. He shows interest in other child’s company but sharing is meaningless at this age and he is very possessive about his toys. Destructive play like knocking down tower of blocks may help him release his tensions. It teaches him that large blocks will support smaller ones. Rearranging and breaking them will help him explore the possibilities. It is a child’s way of exhibiting control over the enviornment.
During preschool age cooperative play is important. Help your child learn rules of games. Teach him that winning is less important than playing. Complex games like building 9-10 blocks, colouring, stringing large wooden beads, dressing dolls are appropriate for them. You can encourage hand skills by teaching to use certain adult tools like screwdriver, hammer, gardening tools. Parents can play instrumental roles in stimulating artistic growth of the child by setting up a place to work and by providing the proper material. Provide wax crayons, colour pencils of longer size to younger children for a better grip. Allow mixing of colour and experimentation. Finger painting allows for a greater deal of freedom and spontaneity. Being messy with finger-paints frequently reduces the child’s messiness in other situations. Encourage to use imagination, make their own judgments, and be expressive and flexible. Home life of the child plays a major role in the overall development of creativity. Extremely creative children tend to have closer ties with parents. Parents can help develop creativity by encouraging divergent thinking.
One parent family
How does growing up with only one parent affect children? Boys brought up in families with father absent have more trouble achieving a strong masculine identity. It is harder for them to control impulses because they have not learned to trust people especially adult males. They are more likely to become delinquent. They score lower on tests of intelligence and academic achievement. They have more trouble making friends in childhood and developing long term relationship with women later on. They are more anxious and more likely to suffer a variety of emotional problems. Children growing up in one parent homes undoubtedly have more problems and more adjustments to make but children grow up well adjusted when they have a good relationship with one parent than when they grow up in a two-parent home characterized by discord and discount.
Children of divorce
Children react to the break up of their parent’s marriage even more seriously than they would react to the death of a parent. They feel imaginary guilt for their own role in causing the divorce. Things are made worse by parents who engage in custody fights, who communicate their bitterness towards each other through their children. Parents need to reassure their children that they are not responsible for the break and by not forcing the children to take sides. The initial break during divorce is always painful but many children thrive in an atmosphere that brings hope for a better life after the end of troubled marriage.
Employment affects the mothers emotional states sometimes providing satisfaction, sometimes stress and sometimes guilt and this in turn, influences the mother-child interaction. It is important that the mother gives more time to the child during the end of first year when close attachments are being cemented, around the baby’s second birthday a crucial time for language development and at time when a child faces other major adjustments. On the whole, the healthy development of children rests on the quality of care they receive, not on the quantity. What is more important is whether the mother enjoys her work at home or outside. Women who enjoy their lives communicate a sense of joy to their children.
In the end, parenting a child is not an easy job. Simply providing love, time, good education, toys, clothes do not work. Good parenting requires understanding basic rules for developing a respectful, affectionate relationship between child and parents. Besides, at every stage set good examples yourself because, at this age parents are their best role models. Also as each child is unique, every parent is unique and every parent-child relationship is also unique. There can be no ready made theory for becoming a good parent. Thrive for good nurture, leave the rest on nature. Khalil Gibran has rightly said …
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughter of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you and though they are with you they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts for they have their own thoughts, you may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may start to be like them but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows of which your children as living arrows are sent forth !”
Dr. NEEMA SITRAPARA
MD (Ped), PGDip. (Adolescent Pediatrics)