8 tips from a paediatrician for better parenting in Nepal’s context

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Parenting is one of the most challenging tasks a person has. This is more challenging in Nepal’s context.

In Nepal, many women get married during their teenage. The lack of education and poverty, among others, are the main reasons for early marriage in Nepal. Because being a mother is not a joke, such couples suffer in parenting their kids.

Parenting involves a great responsibility in shaping the future of your children. Similar to how you water the young plants determines what fruits they will bear, so does how you inculcate good characters and morale determine the future of your child. Children look up to their parents to guide and teach them. So you have a superpower to influence what the child becomes.

Hence, here are some tips for better parenting in Nepal’s context.

1. Use clear sentences

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It is helpful for better parenting if we give the messages in clear and simple words and phrases. They have low comprehension and retention capacity hence they do not understand complex sentences with difficult meanings. So we should be giving our instructions to the point. Children should be told what to do and what not to do. “Be a good boy” is a nice lesson, but it is not clear what that child should be doing, instead we can tell them, “help her with cleaning the room”. Positive rules are usually better than negative ones because they positively guide your child’s behaviour. For example, “Please shut the gate” is better than “Don’t leave the gate open”.

2. Appreciate them for their good work

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We, adults, are hungry for praise and nothing satisfies our soul other than good words people say to us, and so is the case with children too. Do not wait for the opportunity until your child does something wrong. There are many things they do right. Grab every opportunity to appreciate the things they make correct and praise them with your full heart. As a parenting tool, this encourages them to focus on doing more positive things and making themselves better. Nothing can change a child’s behaviour than the humble praise we give them for the good things they have done.

3. Teach them how to correct themselves

Children need to learn about the consequences of their inappropriate and unacceptable actions. If a child spills milk during a tantrum, the parents can give them a rag and teach them how to clean the mess up. This teaches them self-control in the future. Teaching good behaviours during parenting may be difficult at first. But, just remember to be consistent about your rules and instructions and in time, they will learn to do it by themselves. Preventing bad behaviours is always easier than correcting a problem. Do not act in anger, frustration, or worry because it hurts the feelings of children.

4. Show them you love and listen

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You need to guide and direct them, but do not become a boss. You cannot promote good behaviours by being an oppressor. Children are our mirrors; they reflect the way we treat them. If we rudely behave with them, chances are high that they will also show the same behaviours towards others.

Parenting is not about becoming a boss and commanding orders. Listen to your children about their concerns in a purely non-judgemental manner. Show them you care and communicate with them. Humans have a yearning for someone who listens to their doubts and fears. It creates a bond that your child is going to remember throughout their life. Give some space for just listening to them, you may give suggestions if you think it is required; it shows them how much you value them in your lives. It will work wonders later.

5. Teach them problem-solving skills

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Children get into fights more than adults. Conflict resolution can be taught to children while parenting without scolding or punishing them. Punishing children teaches your child that it is okay to hurt someone to solve a problem. This creates more violence and misconduct. It is useful to teach them problem-solving skills which will promote discipline and intellect.

6. Teach them how to feel for others’ feelings

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Children are still growing and they do not have much idea of the consequences of their actions and how they might be hurting others. So while they are busy with their tantrums, they do not care what the other person might feel because of their behaviours. And if you are a reactive parent, you can hurt those little kids with your harsh words and punishment or with other similar ways of parenting. Even if your intentions are right, you will end up hurting them. They become sensitive and afraid of you and will come to know that being harsh, angry, and irritated will help them achieve the things they wanted and to prevent the things they do not want. This is how we have taught our children to use violence to get the things they wanted. This means they do not understand crisis management and problem-solving skills.

So, suppose if you are disturbed by your child’s tantrum, in a positive way of parenting, show them that their act has created a disturbance in your work. Tell them that their act is not making you feel good in a polite manner. Slowly they begin to understand the consequences of their actions and begin to comprehend the feelings of others by their actions.

Be human, show them your feelings. Share it with them. Apologise for your actions. A child who never gets to hear you apologise will not understand the value of apologising to others.

7. Become their role models

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Kids learn from what you do as much as what you say. You have to exhibit good behaviours to teach children good behaviours. Children watch how you treat them and others. They copy what you do more than what you say.

Suppose you tell your children not to be rude to others, but you behave rudely with other people, it is unlikely that your children will follow you. The way parents handle stress says a lot about how children handle their stress later. So it is important to be calm, poised, and not be disturbed by emotions while parenting.

8. Be humane

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Maintain a sense of humour as you exercise parenting. Give rewards for good behaviours. Be kind but firm. Remember to tell your child that the behaviour was bad but the child is not bad. Give your child the chance to succeed while playing games. Give your child responsibility and consequences. Teach them the things you were not taught during your childhood.

Show them that there are more unfortunate people than them. This will teach them the value of love and a sense of belonging to others. Love is the only healing force in this world. Help them rekindle the love for others and this is how the world becomes better. There is nothing in this world that love cannot change. Help them make this planet a better place to live. It only starts with you.

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Dr Tiwari is a paediatrician based in Kathmandu.

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