Parenting can’t be generalised. I respect every parent and the way they bring up their children. Every child is different and the parenting style is different in every family. I am a parent of a preteen. My daughter is 11 and I have to be careful while dealing with certain situations. She is at a delicate age, where sometimes she just flips out. The tiniest of things are made into a big deal. I have to be mindful of how to handle the situation so that she doesn’t feel rebuked.
Communication is the key
Preteen is an age when children are generally confused about their changing bodies and emotions. Hence, I feel it is important that parents communicate with their children. Parents have to be tactful while dealing with them. They need to build a relationship where the children can share their feelings freely, without the fear of being scolded. It's an impressionable age and parents need to guide their children so that they aren’t wrongly influenced.
I make it a point to engage in ‘girly’ chats with my daughter. As a mother, she can come to me for whatever that’s troubling her. I have given her the liberty to come and talk to me about everything under the sun. I have been open and frank about a lot of things so that she doesn’t feel the need to hide anything from me. For example, it might be an incident with her friends in school or a boy she has a crush on… I encourage her to have a discussion where she feels free and not scared to ask me questions or share things with me. But at the same time, I have drawn boundaries. She needs to respect me as a mother and she can’t cross that irrespective of the mood she is in.
You have to delicately handle the situation, especially when you are dealing with teenagers or preteens. I boost her self-esteem and reward her every time she does something good. But also point out when she has done wrong. I'm very consistent with my discipline and rules.
Today, in most households, both parents are working or are busy with something or the other. But you have to make time for your children. At least once in a while make time for a family get-together, and take children out for a movie or dinner. Or maybe have at least one meal together… Whatever works. Ensure there are no devices on that table. Make it a family time where everyone is chatting, talking about problems or sharing how the day was each one... Have a healthy discussion. This makes children feel loved and not neglected. Children often act out because they don’t get enough attention from their parents or loved ones.
Be good role models
Parents need to be good role models. The children might listen to you, but they observe, imbibe and imitate whatever the parents do. For example, if I tell my child that I don't like eating a certain food, but I eat it. This is to make her do the same.
Due to the various pressures of life, at times, parents take out the frustration on the children. This is wrong. If your child is making a mistake, explain and make the child understand. Don’t go all guns blazing and scare the child. That's a lose-lose situation. Because then the child will start hiding things from you, and trust me, you don’t want that. You have to show your child that your love is unconditional. Be there for the child. Support and show him/her that you have their back no matter what situation they are in. Set boundaries, but don't be harsh with the child.
(Riddhima Kapoor Sahni is a fashion and jewellery designer, and daughter of veteran actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor)