Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. That's a Robert Fulghum quote that sums up parenting in a sentence. Want proof? Just observe your children while they play or go about their work and you will perhaps get a more than fair idea of yourself and your spouse! From early morning blues, to TV viewing, cell phone addiction, eating habits and handling stress, children exactly replicate your behaviour. Are you to be blamed for your lil' one's 'bad habits'? Read on to find out.
Do you shout and scream?
With growing workloads, increasing work tension and demanding family needs, most parents these days are busy, stretched and stressed out too. Very often they bring their tension and stress home and unmindfully burst out in front of their kids. And the 'smart kids' watch their parents 'carefully' and mimic them unconsciously. Agreeing to this, Rummy Azad Mahendra, who has two children says, "It's so true. There are times when I shout at my maids for certain things and I find my children doing the same. They feel, if their mother could behave like this, then it's fine with them too. I then tell them politely that it's not correct to follow me always or shout at elders. To bring in a change in them, now I have made it a practice not to argue, fight or shout in front of them."
If your kid does something good, praise him/her in public. If he/she does anything wrong, then parents should censure the child in private. Shouting can stress out a kid. Parents should not bring work tensions home and conflicts with spouse should be resolved in private and not in front of the children.
Addicted to your cellphone?
You may call it a trend or an addiction, chatting on the cellphone for hours has become a common practice. Kavitha Reddy, a busy mom, says, "My daughter keeps on telling me 'Mom, when you're at home, you're either sleeping or on the phone'. Moreover, these days she's insisting that I buy her a cellphone too. I think, I'll have to talk less on the phone now."
Sabina Xavier, who has two daughters, aged six and three says, "Though talking on the phone is not a major problem for my kids, watching TV definitely is. And the reason, I feel, is that I watch television after a day's hard work in the evening hours and that helps me relax and sleep. But my kids follow the same and that hampers their regular routine. Now, I realise that I must change my habit for the sake of my kids."
An hour a day is okay, but parents need to take care that whatever they are watching should be healthy and knowledgeable. Parents should select programmes for kids and see that they complete their homework before sitting in front of the TV. As for the phone, parents need to set and example and should stop talking for long hours on it.
Are you a couch potato?
Unhealthy parents tend to have unhealthy kids. That's a hard fact to digest. If you don't exercise daily or indulge in outdoor sports, there's a slim chance your child will do it. Says Rachna Mehta, who has two sons aged eight and seven years, "I'm not a fitness freak, but my husband is. He takes out the kids for swimming regularly and ensures they get their daily dose of exercise." However, another parent Kamini Saraf, says, "I have taken a fancy for Italian food of late and my son too loves all those pizzas and pasta. I think it's time to stop all this and at the same time start off an exercise routine for him"
Just as parents prioritise school activities and academic goals, they should also prioritise fitness as well. At least an hour of exercise is necessary. They can either play games, run around or do a workout — it just needs to be a physical activity. Encourage your children to do it.
Can't resist junk food?
It's very common these days to just fill up junk food like potato chips, French fries, burgers, etc., in kids' tiffin boxes or give them the same stuff as a snack at home. In fact, many parents are guilty of gorging on junk food themselves. Dr P Raghuram, who has two sons, aged 13 and seven says, "Though I have inculcated all good habits in my kids, junk food is their major distraction. They can't do without it and I've had a tough time making them understand that it's not good for their health. It's true that parents set an example for kids and thus their eating habits are very important." Another big mistake many parents make is to reward their kids' good behaviour with a treat like pizza, colas, fries, etc. So, naturally kids begin to perceive junk food as a treat and not a threat to their health.
Saying no to junk food will not work out if you do not add healthy food like vegetables and fruit to your daily diet. You'll have to balance it out. If a kid wants to have burger, you should give him a bowl of salad with it and not a cola or French fries. Moreover, even parents need to follow a healthy diet and make it easier for their kids to follow the same.
Are you sleeping enough?
Late night parties, TV shows and movies are what today's parents look forward to, after a hard day at work. And more often than not, children tend to follow suit. The result — kids find it hard to get up in the morning and even if they manage to get to school on time, most of them end up sleepy in class! Sirisha Mulpuru, who has two sons, one 12-year-old and the other 18, says, "I'm a movie buff and usually opt for late-night shows with my friends. Seeing that, my sons too pester me to take them along. I have no other option, but to give in to them. It affects his school as he finds it difficult to get up early in the morning. I think I'll have to work this out now. Yes, good or bad, kids do learn from their parents."
- Kids who are seven to eight years should sleep eight to nine hours
- Teens should sleep around seven to eight hours
- A regular time should be maintained
- A couple of hours relaxation can be allowed on weekends. But that should a rare exception.