What determines the way a child behaves? This question is on every parent’s mind. What’s the best action we could take to teach our children how to be caring, happy and successful?
There are two important factors for a child’s behaviour: one is the emotional regulation – the ability to understand and manage one’s feelings; the second being given by the social interactions between the child and adults and the child and other children. Sadly, there are few resources on these two factors available for parents. The majority of resources available focus solely on discipline which do not help parents reach the objectives of understanding behaviour.
Parents should avoid comparing children, be they siblings, members of the same school group, neighbours etc. It is very traumatic for a child to hear remarks such as ‘His brother was faster’ or ‘The neighbour’s child knows how to do this, unlike you’. Such practice damages the relation between child and parents and harms the child’s self-esteem. Parents should also avoid using remarks such as “You did well, HOWEVER I think you should practice more”. Although these types of remarks may seem harmless, they can have the same detrimental effects on long term. Parents can use positive remarks instead, such as “ I noticed you have done really well in painting, would you like us to try to paint a different scenery?”. This kind of approach makes the child feel important, consulted and stimulated to practise. The child is thus helped to grow and reach his potential.
Parents can be really influential to the way children develop their feelings towards themselves and the surrounding world. We can differentiate between two types of parents. There are the parents who find negative emotions (sadness, anger) as being detrimental and disapprove/reject these types of emotions. This type of parents will try their best to replace negative emotions with positive ones, perceiving the unhappiness of their children as being a sign of their own failure. They treat emotions in the same fashion as one treats clothes, just casual things which can be chosen, changed, replaced or discarded. The second type of parents are the “emotional coaching” parents. These parents welcome all array of emotions as an opportunity to connect with their children and use it as a learning/ teaching opportunity. These parents notice even the less intense emotions of their children as well as their own. They welcome emotions with empathy, trying to set boundries or amend/ solve behavioural issues when and if such issues are raised by emotions.