Pushing the boundaries of discipline

Daughter is mischievous, naughty, but not insolent. At least not so far.

Last week she mentioned that a child in school, stuck out her tongue at her a few times, and she thought it was very rude. I agreed, and asked her to ignore children who behave like that.

I thought that was the end of it, but apparently not. A couple of days back she stuck out her tongue at me, when she did not like something I said. I took her to task, and she apologized.

She did that again the next day, and the same routine followed, of her apologizing and promising to never do it again.

Yesterday, she did it again. Now, I was quite upset that she picked up something and was bent on doing it even when she was aware that it was quite rude. So I said to her that she had enough warning, and if she persisted in doing it, I would have to take away one of her privileges. She did it again immediately – as if she were testing me. So I calmly, carried out my threat, and asked her to think about what she had done.

She was upset, and she did apologize and has promised to never do it again.

We had a chat later, and she does seem to understand why I don’t want her doing stuff like that. But this episode shook me, she has never deliberately tried to test her boundaries so far. Normally, she understands when it is explained to her. This time, for some reason, she wanted to see how far she could go..

I can only hope that I handled it properly and that she realizes that bad behaviour will not be tolerated – ever. But it does worry me… and I guess I will continue to worry until I know that it worked.. And it also worries me how easily bad behaviour is picked up.

Children these days…

Is it only me or do others feel this way, when people start their discourses about how ‘children these days’ don’t do this, or do only that.

The biggest complaint I hear everywhere is how children don’t like outdoor games, or playing with other children, how they are glued to the television etc etc etc. I can’t be the only parent who disagrees, surely? Even in this cold country, I see my daughter and other children playing outside, in the garden when it is sunny, and walking to and back from school. Mind you, these are not very short walks either. Daughter took a skipping rope to school today, she wanted to skip all the way to school, but decided to do it on the way back instead( we did not want to get late for school). Other times, we go to the park on the way back from school. We go on long walks, and daughter enjoys them as much as we do. Yes, occasionally she does complain, but most of the time, she enjoys every bit of it, especially when she knows that the walk will end in the park.

Most days, she has physical activities that she loves, and watching TV comes ta the end of the long list. Some days, she forgets to even ask for TV. And I know that most of her friends have similar routines. Yes, she does enjoy watching TV- which child doesn’t ? But it is us parents who have to find ways of keeping them entertained with other more stimulating activities. And even watching TV is fine, as far as they watch something which is informative and fun, and is within limits.

The same goes with toys. I hear people saying that children throw huge tantrums when they are not allowed to buy a toy that they want. Some justify it by saying that children need toys to play, if you want to stop them from watching TV. To be honest, I find most of the toys that daughter has, to be useless. At the very least, useless in the form that the makers intended them to be used. Most of daughter’s toys are stuff that she has received as gifts. We are parents who hardly buy toys. Why should we, when more often than not, she enjoys cutting paper into tiny pieces, or creating houses with cushions, or some other make-believe game that she thought up?

I have one huge suitcase full of toys that she received for her last birthday. I saw no point in opening it all up, because she is not going to play with all of them at once any way. We(daughter and I) had decided that we would open one toy a month. She forgot all about it, and cheeky mother that I am, I did not remind her. She has enough playthings to keep her happy, anyway. I happened to mention this to a friend, and she was stunned. She was surprised that daughter agreed to it. Her child would never agree, apparently. Well, I think it depends on us, as parents to set out boundaries and once these have been established, early on, children know what to expect. For instance, daughter knows that throwing a tantrum in a store is NEVER going to get her anything. Sure, she does get a little teary sometimes, especially if she is tired , but then as a parent, I know how to distract her or reason with her, depending on the situation.

The same goes with walking and playing outdoors, sharing. If we as parents, teach the children to share, they do understand. At least that is what I have learnt as a parent. Some say that single kids do not know how to share – but to be honest, I have seen single kids sharing beautifully, as well as siblings fighting for everything, and the mother managing to make sure that there is two of everything, because otherwise, a fight is a surety. If we as parents, ground them properly, there is no reason why children, (today’s or yesterday’s) should not behave.

Husband was reading a book where it said something to the effect, ‘What is important is not what parents do, but what parents are’. And that is, I feel true to a large extent. One of my neighbours were extremely active people, and their children were the same. I have never seen them in front of a TV. They spend hours outdoors, read, have picnics, and those two children were beautifully behaved. Absolutely great children. I was happy to babysit them anytime, because I knew that they were great company for daughter, and that they would behave perfectly during the time that they were here.

At the same time, there are children, who get ‘bored’ or want more toys, or want to watch the telly. While every child is different, I do feel that today’s children are not all lazy, selfish children. Sure there might be some, just as there were these types of children in the previous generation. But where there are parents who believe keeping a balance, most children do turn out fine.

Random Nothings.. Post 5

You know what I missed most when I took a blogging break. It was the inability to jot down random stuff that happens to or around me. For some reason, I could not just start a post and hit publish.

And now with the NaBloPoMo, it is a pleasure to write everyday, and just because I do, it somehow seems easier to blog. I had never thought that I could blog on schedule. Well, I still don’t but I seem to be able to do it on a daily basis at the very least. Which to me, is good enough. The only thing I wish I could do was reply to all the comments, and read everybody else’s posts – that would have been perfect!

I went shopping this morning, and everywhere I turned I saw people dressed totally weird. I mean, there were goths, girls with hot pink eyeliner, my eyes hurt just looking at them. It felt like some kind of fancy dress parade was on. Shops full of beachwear in bright colours! Summer/Spring just brings out the excitement in the air. I get the feeling that it makes people enthusiastic and adventurous in general… Or maybe it is just me 🙂

There were men standing outside the entrance of shops or just inside the entrance, holding on to buggies, looking bored, and then out comes the wife/partner, ‘Love, which of these looks better’. ‘Both love, both, just choose, and lets get going’. That is so what happens when I go shopping for clothes with husband 🙂 I am sure husband would have wholeheartedly sympathized with these men 🙂

I think I did far more looking around and window shopping than actual shopping. Not that I am complaining. I only wished I had a camera on me to click some pics. There were some amazing flowers in bloom and shops with ‘Sale – 70% off’  looked just as good. It is another thing that all the items in the 70% off section have only sizes like 6 and 18 😦

One thing that really upset me was, when I was waiting for the bus. An Indian( or should I say, someone from the Indian Sub-continent), spat while walking by and the spit landed a cm away from an elderly British gentleman. I was so appalled. How can people do stuff like this? Spitting and that too almost on somebody. It was gross. The gentleman just moved away. I couldnot see the look on his face, but I was so so embarrassed that somebody who could be classified in the same ethnic group as us behaved so badly.. I have so much to say on this but I guess that is fodder for another post.

So how is everybody enjoying your weekend? We have a birthday party every weekend. Sigh!  Did I tell you that I am so tired of socializing that I feel like locking myself in a cave?

Boys, no? They are like that only!

Thanks Blogadda and IHM for the Spicy Pick!

There is this lady who I know. A nice lady, but she has one habit(should I call it a habit, well, whatever), that drives me a little crazy. The title of this post is one of her favourite sentences.

She is a mother of a 1.5 year old, and she keeps talking of how boys are wild, and how boys cannot be disciplined, and how it is muuuuch easier to bring up girls. I wonder on what authority she speaks, given the fact that she does not have one of each.

All this is also tempered with references to how her son is the favourite of his grandparents’ because he is their only son’s only son! That is a another story for another day.

Her husband is no better. He once told us that our daughters(another friend with a daughter was present as well), eat food outside , without any problems – because they are girls, apparently boys do not do that either!

Everything is blamed on the child being a boy. If he refuses to sit in his stroller, which by the way, there are plenty of other reasons for, it is because he is a boy – and more ‘active’!

If the child refuses to share, he is a boy after all, and he has a ‘temper’ if he is forced to do it.

Their attitude  makes me wonder how that child will turn up in a few years time. Right now, he is an adorable little thing, doing stuff which every child his age does – irrespective of gender. One time, he was playing with something, and his mother tried to take it away – and he showed his annoyance at that. I have seen loads of little children doing the same, but in this case, the parents proudly say, ‘My son has a temper!’. They actually sound proud of the fact. It is another thing that he had no temper – it was just the way most children that age would react. Even if a child does behave in an ill-tempered way, at that age(he was 8 or 9 months old), I would just ignore it, and in an older child, would probably explain to the child, that it is rude, rather than proudly gloat over it.

Another parent tells her 4 yr old, that he should not be hitting girls because they are ‘cry-babies’. So it is perfectly fine to hit or bully other children- just not girls, and that too because girls are cry babies! What are we teaching our children? And these are all educated parents. Clearly education has no chance in front of the age old discrimination between girls and boys. And not only do the believe in it, they are ensuring that their little children grow up with ideas like this in their heads. I can’t help wonder how this boy is going to react when grows up and has to work with women or even worse, report to a woman at work?

Every time I see the way some parents handle their children, it just makes me understand why so many little boys are badly behaved – they are just not taught that it is wrong to behave that way. Even when parents do scold them, it is with an indulgent smile saying, ‘how else can you expect boys to behave?’ So as the child grows up, he learns the nuances. He is free to ignore the half-hearted admonishing, because of the tone accompanying it. I feel, that even a young child can understand the tone that we speak in. When we mean business and when we do not. If we are firm, and we show them that we are ready to carry through what we say, they will listen. Maybe , not the first time, but if they get a consistent message every time, it will just be a matter of time before a child(irrespective of gender), learns what is acceptable behaviour, and what is not.

On the other hand, girls, I feel are told to ‘behave’ from the time they are little. There is another family I know who refused to cut their 3 year old’s hair because apparently she needs to know how to have long hair – after all she is a girl. She was just a 3 year old! This was not even about misbehaviour – but acceptable standards for girls! Girls misbehaving is a no-no, but boys – what can we say, they just don’t listen!

If the girls are well behaved – then it is purely because they are girls – their parents’ parenting methods have nothing to do with it, of course! Girls come programmed with good behaviour!

Long back, before we had Poohi, we had been to an party with some of husband’s old colleagues. All the couples except one had girls. The lone boy was being called the ‘Kishan Kanhaiya’ of their group. This boy, I think around 2 years of age, was going around terrorizing(hitting, grabbing toys) all the other children, while his parents looked on, smiling. I was shocked, but nobody else seemed to find that odd. Later, as time passed, I would hear gossip about how naughty that child was. People started avoiding them because their children refused to play with him. His mother had a second child – a girl, and she turned out even naughtier- throwing all their theories of boys being naughtier than girls right out of the window. She surpassed her older brother in naughtiness. She would copy everything her brother did and more. Eventually, when this little boy went to school, he would return with complaints from her teachers every single day. His parents were at their wits end, when suddenly he changed – almost overnight, he became the most well behaved boy. My friend says that people could not believe that it was the same destructive, ill-mannered child! Apparently, when he learnt that good behaviour was rewarded at school, he picked it up. This boy just needed to be guided in the right direction. Clearly, his parents had sent him all the wrong signals, he was never told, properly, about acceptable behaviour. Isn’t it sad, that a child had to learn all this at school and not at home? If you ask me, the parents are doing their children a disservice by not teaching them how to behave. Which child would want to be unpopular at school? Do parents want their children to be avoided by others?

If I had a penny for every time I hear a parent gloatingly complain about their little boy.. Ever wonder why we never hear a parent of a girl gloating about how she refuses to listen? Because I have seen badly behaved girls as well – but have just not hear heard their parents being proud about it! And what of all those well mannered boys? Are we saying that they are not boyish enough if they listen to their parents or do not go about beating people or are taught to share and play well with other children? And there are plenty of beautifully behaved boys!

While I do understand and appreciate that there are some differences in the way girls and boys behave. My little one, with no prompting from me, goes straight to the jewellery section, if she manages to catch sight of it. She loves pink, and is princess-crazy – despite my best efforts. At the same time, she recognizes the make of cars, she loves playing with trains on train track, loves to pretend at being Bob the Builder. I do think all this is a combination of environment, genes and natural aptitude.

There are boisterous boys and girls, just as there are quiet and calm, boys and girls. Why can’t we take each child as he/she is, and not as a sub sect of their gender? Yes, for sure, there are gender differences, but I do think gender has nothing to do with wild behaviour or misbehaviour. Badly behaved children or children who refuse to listen, are the way they are because of their parent’s parenting methods.  Can we please stop blaming the gender of the child for their (bad)behaviour?