Do you label your child as lazy
or sloppy? You're doing him more harm than good. Kids take labels more
seriously than you realise.
Smita had asked her son Sameer to clean up his desk because Sapna, his aunt, was coming over for lunch. Sameer,
of course, decided to postpone the task as much as possible - his Packman
was far too engrossing. So when the doorbell rang an hour later, Sameer's
desk was in the same chaotic state as earlier. "Oh to hell with it," he
thought, and continued with his game. Suddenly voices drifted out to him
from outside his room door. "Sameer is such a tidy and obedient boy. You
should see his study table. Sameer loves to keep it neat and orderly."
Of course, this conversation was
entirely for his benefit, but Sameer didn't know that. The minute he heard
his mother praising him, he was determined to live up to the praise. He
jumped up and started clearing out the desk at once, painstakingly arranging
the books around, putting pencils in their little stands and packing up
his playing cards that were scattered all around, neatly in their boxes.
Then he combed his hair and went out to greet Sapna Aunty. And when she
took a tour of his room after lunch, she was suitably impressed by his
desk, and said so, while Sameer gleamed with pride and pleasure.
Instead of praising Sameer, if Smita
had stated aloud that Sameer was a lazy boy who never obeys instructions
and is only interested in computer games, what do you think the result
would have been? Sameer would have sulked in his room, locking himself
up. If his mom forced him out, he would have greeted his aunt cheerlessly,
and walked off at the earliest given opportunity. As for his desk? Would
it have been cleaned out? Hell, no! If anything, he would have messed it
up even more!
It's not that hard to understand
kids if we try. Their behaviour is simple and uncomplicated. They still
haven't got a handle on controlling their feelings, and they hurt easily.
Crying is the first outburst of emotion that a child tries to control.
Usually, a child replaces this with anger, insolence and rebellion. If
you say something to hurt your child, instead of crying he would get insolent
and rebellious, and you end up punishing your child, worsening the situation.
It's a tricky, catch-22 situation.
No Negative Labels
Don't label your child. Remember,
kids believe what you say about them. So if you call them lazy, they will
believe it and show you exactly how lazy they can be! Every label has a
meaning, and while you may utter it thoughtlessly, you never know what
just sticks with your child.
Try and influence your child's behaviour
with positive reinforcement. Praise your child for everything he does right,
without criticizing him harshly for his wrongdoings. Use labels positively.
Instead of saying - good boy, use words like - you're a very neat boy,
and I'm proud of you. Words like neat, tidy, polite, well-mannered, hold
more meaning for a child when they can relate the word to an incident.
So, if Sameer met Sapna Aunty very nicely and got her a glass of water to drink, Smita could say something like, "Sapna Aunty was mentioning what
a well-mannered boy you are. I'm so proud of you."
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- The Indiaparenting Team