Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Role of Punishment as a behaviour correcting tool

              The Role of Punishment  as a behaviour correcting tool
It is interesting to see people trying to mould behavior patterns in kids by strategic use of punishment. However I have my reservations about the efficacy of such a tool, especially in small children.
Essentially punishment should be an instrument of correcting behavior however we often reduce it  to a mere power wielding weapon to assert our authority over children and  make  them  conform by  creating a dread of ensuing punishment.
And the result,  is merely to scare the child out of his wits into following a set line of behaviour without adding anything to his understanding of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. This may work  but sometimes  such children   grow up as timid  , unquestioning adults . That is why the role of punishment seems limited to me. However since punishment of some kind  is at times the only option , a few things can be kept In mind:

·         puni blog4.jpgFirstly , for punishment to have any impact , it should be seen as such by the child. A  5 year old is unlikely to know he is being punished faced with a screaming parent. All he sees is an angry face and hears a loud voice  --- he is not ‘listening’ or understanding…he is merely  dealing with an angry tirade and trying to shut off the noise.Calmly explain how you want him/her to behave.
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·         At  any time punishment should be  in proportion to the age of the child and gravity of the situation.

·         Hitting the child as punishment is a sure sign  of the parent’s helplessness .The children recognize it as our last ditch effort of trying to get our way.—and often push their limits just to see how we would react.

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·         Any form of punishment that entails physically distancing the child from you  for a period of time is often construed as rejection by children who might feel that you are using it merely as an excuse to get rid of him/her.

·         Do not play upon the child’s fears. A child of 6 who is afraid of the dark  and is made to sleep without a light as punishment  will only become more nervous.The idea is not  to “teach him a lesson” but to teach that what he did was wrong how it would affect others around him and what he should remember in the future.

·         Even when punishment is the only recourse, have a face saving device ready so he/she could muster up his/her lost dignity. Tell them how they can make amends to right the wrong they have done. Remember the aim should not be to humiliate the child but to make them a better person.Even their smallest efforts at this should be appreciated.

·          Be approachable. Create an environment where the kids are not afraid to come and tell you when they have done something wrong. If you blow your fuse the minute you catch them , they’ll start hiding things  and lying to you ---so in fact –in trying to solve one problem we have created another  i.e.  lying.

·         Do not ‘brand’ the child. Calling the child ‘liar’, ‘thief’, and ‘cheater’ etc only makes the child more defiant and he will stop making any effort to change a faulty behaviour pattern since you have already given him a name tag.

·         N o matter what they have done  hear them out and  do not rush to judge them and punish them .

·         And lastly, Reassure them  that you will  love them , no matter what--- that gives the child the motive for improvement.

I’ll be back in the next year .Till then…Wish you all a merry Christmas and a Happy new year !!!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013



 Have  you ever noticed that as soon as we are blessed with a child ;we dive headlong into a mad,” Quest for the Best”? We leave no stone  unturned in trying to provide him the best doctors,the best teachers, best school, best coach , best books…in fact nothing but the best would do for our precious little one. Sounds familiar? Very much so…  I, myself am guilty of being  slightly obsessed with this ‘best’. So far so good… the problem begins when we start expecting our children to ,‘pay us back’ by being the best  student, best athlete, best musician, best painter etc.
If for some reason they are not able to match our self –styled  standards of excellence we begin to feel cheated  , betrayed almost let down.

And this is where  the problem  begins.

Firstly , in this quest for “best-ness” we tend to overlook our child’s uniqueness. Instead of celebrating his individuality we start measuring him on pre-set yardsticks set by others.
And secondly children , if they sense our disappointment, often develop low self-esteem and fail to realize their  true potential.I have often wondered how children feel  when  we  judge them. I have written some lines from a child’s perspective  and I think some of us would identify with this;…..so here goes…..               
WHAT”S WRONG WITH BEING AVERAGE?                                                                                                                                                                               By: Parul Mathur
You always wanted the “best   ”for me   of that I’m quite sure                   
But my   best was never quite good enough-   you always wanted   something more.
You dreamt that I would top my class, so I guess I’ve let you down
No matter how hard I try,   I will never be the talk of the town.
You always picked the best books best clothes even my best friends for me
Still I could not become the kind of BEST you wanted me to be.
You are always trying to match my school grades with the boy who lives next door
You keep changing my football coach ‘cause    you are not happy with my score
I’m okay with being the tenth in my class—who wants to be at the top?
So what if all my stage performances are always such a flop
I’ve never won a prize at school   and it bothers you no end
That the smartest geek in my class is still not my best   friend .
I’ve never been the teacher’s pet (she  does’nt  even know my name!)
And quite unlike all your friends kids; I have no claim to fame.
I cannot draw, or paint, or sing –I’m not good looking or tall
And as for basketball and chess, well, I’m just   no good at all.
But I get by with passing grades at school  , I play football and swim,
And though I don’t look like a movie star, I still love hitting the gym.
I love school and sports and games and just to hang out with kids my age
But what I want to ask you is --------

So let’s go  and take a second look at that ‘’average’ child sitting at home  .It takes only the best parents in the world to find something special in that average child!!!!!


Tuesday, 10 December 2013



So here I am again with some more reflections on the challenges of bringing up kids. And the lessons I  have learnt in that process

 I and my sister are 13 years apart in age and  I  always envied her for enjoying a happy active childhood with my parents who were then, young and healthy. By the time I was born they were well into middle age and the youth and vitality was dwindling
However as I grew older I realized the advantages of my position in the family .When I was having sleepless nights with my toddlers, my sister’s kids were well into teenage. And as I was stumbling with each stage of child growth and development, my sister provided me with rare insights on how to deal with each phase and tried to prepare me for the next based on her personal experiences. She herself was learning to cope with a different set of problems of adolescents. After  listening to my endless wailings about  one such taxing session with my then four year old difficult son  ,she sent me  a copy of a letter my father had written to her when her kids were about that age and she was having a hard time with them..She had saved that letter all these years .

That letter contained what I have started referring to as the Ten Commandments of Child Rearing. I want to share these with with all of you as they may come in handy at some point of time.

It’s an old, well worn letter, so let me put it more clearly:
1)   Keep your cool. Be patient
2)   Set example. No double standards
3)  Child’s ego is as important as yours.
4)   If a child’s ego is hurt, have a face saving device.
5)   Child does not like to be insulted.
6)   If there are too many rules ---likely to be broken every so often.
7)   Punishment useful only once in a blue moon.
8)    Slapping or beating futile shows helplessness.
9)    Get into the child’s shoes to have a look at his world.
10) A child is a child after all.

The fact that I was not the  only one groping in the dark, trying to keep my sanity in the face of their different demands when my kids were four  and one year old ,was reassuring.  But more than that,  The fact that Papa had realized her problem all those years back and guided her based on his own experiences  while bringing US up was truly unnerving!!!.Was I a difficult child? My sensible mature sister, a brat? Hard to imagine. But in every age and time all parents more or less face the same situations. If you are lucky you get a sister like mine to reassure you ---and as for the rest of you--   well—you have my blog!!!!!

Till next week then...

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Enjoying Parenthood


This blog is my tribute to my parents  who brought us up with nothing better to guide them  than  lots of love  and basic common sense.Even though we had our usual quabbles while growing up ,today as I bring up my own kids  I find myself  looking back  to recall my parents reactions to my various tantrums when I was all of  four!!
This blog is not a manual on parenting tips. Infact it is an attempt to reach out to other parents like me who are often taken completely unawares by by strange situations while looking after their kids. It is only my way of reaching out to all those groping in the dark, "Hey! you are not alone in the universe of parenting. It's okay if you dont have all the answers.-- you'll figure them out soon enough"

 Over the years I have come to realize that a parent is born much in the same way a child is . All the knowledge we may have acquired before becoming a parent pretty much goes out of the window when you hold your little one in your arms for the first time .The plethora of parenting guidebooks flooding the markets would have us believe that once we have read them cover to cover we are well equipped to take on the responsibility of a new life.But real situations are often not as cut and dried.

So for all those couples who want to have kids but are apprehensive about their capabilities as parents and their level of preparedness to handle this mammoth responsibility --I would like to say- just go ahead ,because you are just as prepared now as you are ever likely to be . Motherhood is a highly glorified job in the society that we live in but I do feel that a couple can get by with mutual support and sound common sense.There is no such thing as being "fully prepared" for parenthood.
Bringing up two adolescent kids has still not prepared me mentally for what I might have to handle in a few years time. Everyday presents a new challenge,a new problem where I find myself delving into the recesses of my mind trying to find the right answers which may not even exist! So by and large I feel parenting hones a basic skill , one that management gurus rave about--- thinking out of the box. .There are no readymade answers because there are no predictable questions.
Children sometimes bring out strengths in us some of which we ourself are unaware of . You would be surprised at your own  level of patience, caring , concern , warmth ,generosity of spirit and kindness  you never knew you had. Time and again they draw upon our hidden qualities and make us a better person.
So do you think you are ready for the magic?