How to be a pro at active parenting...

How to be a pro at active parenting...

Active parents help their children to be best suited for success in their own evolving future rather than make them ‘behave appropriately’ in conformance with the parent’s own world-view, writes RamG Vallath

Every child is unique. Their genetics, motives, interests, circumstances, situations — are all different. Hence, every child will require parenting that is specific to them. Parents are best placed to know the exact nuances of what is optimum for their child. However, parents are all too often so caught up in the daily execution of their parenting duties and too close to the action to be able to look at the broader aspects of parenting and assess where they are headed. Also, in today’s world of hyper-competition, many parents often get carried away and try to lead a life for their children, micromanaging every move.

Active parenting rests on three foundational principles:

Inculcate attributes that make a successful adult systematically and proactively from the early age itself.

Be a mindful parent and tap every opportunity to build these attributes. Sometimes this might mean consciously desisting from stepping in to solve a problem for the child.

Provide a high level of support while empowering children to take ownership and responsibility for their own lives. In a nutshell, a practitioner of active parenting will be focused on building long term attributes in children by empowering them to grow socially and emotionally from within.

Active parents help their children to be best suited for success in their own evolving future rather than on making them ‘behave appropriately’ in conformance with the parent’s own world-view. This is critical for life success since the parents grew up in a different era when the world was vastly different and the challenges and complexities were magnitudes lower.

Assuming they know best how children should tackle each of their challenges is being very presumptuous and short-sighted.

Also, each tie the parent steps in to push a child or solve the child’s problem, they are reducing the opportunity for the child to attempt to sort out their own lives and hence the opportunity to learn and grow even if they fail. Hence, it is more important for parents to help build the desire to succeed in children and to help them develop the tools with which they can do so.

For this, they need to help inculcate certain attributes that are essential for success irrespective of the circumstances. These foundational attributes are Social consciousness, Happiness, Authenticity, Resilience and Purposefulness. SHARP in short.

Active parenting framework also provides five approaches that parents can employ to help inculcate these attributes in children. The attributes themselves are made up of eleven essential traits and values.

The five approaches can be tailor-made to build each of these traits or values through age-appropriate techniques. For example, happiness is a combination of several traits and values — respect, integrity and honesty, self-confidence, kindness and compassion, gratitude, sense of humour, growth mindset, and creativity and solution orientation.

One of the approaches that can be used to instil many of these traits and values is story-telling. Age-appropriate stories can help hugely in inculcating respect, integrity and honesty, kindness and compassion, gratitude, sense of humour and creativity.

The stories could be funny and absurd starting from a very early age that could build a sense of humour to magical or sci-fi stories that could build creativity in slightly older children. Stories of compassion and respect — for differences, for others, for those who are less fortunate — are many and span age groups from toddlers to teenagers. Stories of the struggles and challenges faced by parents in giving a secure life to children could help inculcate gratitude in tweens and teens.

As an illustration, rather than jumping in to scold a child who is disrespectful, a parent would do well to use storytelling as a tool to build respect and gratitude proactively.

This way, micromanagement is reduced, which paves the way for better parent-child bonding as well. The same applies to most other day-to-day challenges parents face in their children such as screen time, lack of focus, lack of motivation, tantrums, lack of communication, entitled behaviour etc.

Thus, active parenting not only provides an approach that helps raise successful children, but also helps in strong family bonds and happy and satisfied parents.

(The writer is the author of Active Parenting: How to raise children with boundless potential, published by HarperCollins India.)

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