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Teach your child that being themselves is the biggest thing they can do for themselves, and model it to them by your behaviour.
Just when you thought parenting could not be any more warped up, you are thrown off balance yet again. Yes, bringing up a child is the most challenging job that is and trust me this is not a hyperbole. Each age group brings with it different sets of troubles and you glare at your tiny pint sized elf, cluelessly.
My little girl is five years of age but she has an individuality of her own and is extremely clear about what she wants and what she doesn’t. The other day, as I send her off to her evening ritual of going to the park, and take a sigh of relief, quickly grabbing a simmering cup of tea, I hear the door bell ring again, stirring me up from my sweet solitude.
I open the door only to find my daughter looking flustered with a frown on her tiny forehead. When I make an effort to know what had happened that had made her come back so soon and what is with the long face, she tells me in a disappointed tone that two of her friends did not like what she is wearing and it makes her look fat. I swallow hard, take a deep breath trying hard not to break in to fits of laughter. She looks pretty serious about the aforesaid allegation and looks at me annoyed. I tell her that her dress, which is a denim dungaree, paired with a white tee, is cool and she is so lanky that I wonder what makes her believe what her friends had to say.
She listens to me, still unconvinced, maintaining, “But, they said so”.
At this point I wanted to make my daughter understand the bigger picture and bring home the fact that it does not matter what other people think of you and what matters is that should be comfortable in your skin. But, I struggle as to how to get this in her little head as even we as adults grapple with issues germinating from low self esteem coupled with our constant bid to please people.
It was then, that it occurred to me that when it comes to kids, preaching is not enough, but demonstrating what we want them to inculcate through our actions is the key. Children subconsciously pick up what they see around them every day. So, we have a larger role to play in what they perceive as right and wrong.
At that juncture, as I was faced with the task of immediately pacifying my girl, I tried telling her as to how one should not be bothered by what others think of you. I told her to go back in the same outfit and face them. It took Herculean efforts and a big pep talk to achieve this but alas my daughter went back to the park all charged up.
But, I could not help but wonder what I as a parent should do so that in the longer run, such a thought never crosses her mind. After a lot of retrospection, I came up with the following pointers:
If the parent does not have a positive self image and is forever in self doubt, then this state of mind is certainly going to rub on the child too. He will end up thinking that it is normal to constantly doubt yourself. So, make an effort to have a healthy self image, and never exhibit that you are not sure about yourself in front of your child.
That day, my daughter was preening in front of the mirror and she uttered, “Am I looking fat?” No points for guessing where she got this from! Such assumptions if not nipped in the bud can lead to low self esteem, and your child could be party to body shaming.
Children are endowed with varied abilities. Some are good artists while some are good at sports. Some can be good at a multiple things while some can be just about average in almost everything. Point is, you need to be the best version of yourself, in accordance with your abilities. We as parents need to bring home this important message to our kids. I am reminded of a beautiful quote from Dr. Seuss, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
It is imperative to keep an eye on your child and boost his morale and prepare him for the big vile world out there. But, at the same time, do not over indulge yourself and let Nature do some of the teaching. Once, they are faced with real life issues, they will learn things which no one can teach them. Prepare them to seize the day but do not pester them.
We are constantly making endeavours to lead our children towards happier and fulfilled lives, and for this to happen, being themselves is the most important lesson which we ought to impart to our children. If you are unabashed about who you are, you will in turn know how to stand up for yourself and no one can make you feel sorry for yourself. If as a parent you can pass on this lesson to your child, they will never worry as to what others think of them.
Published here earlier.
Image source: pixabay