Dear Friends, today, we are going to share a strategy around the less-discussed aspect of parenting. We are referring to the rare moments when children use emotionally inflicting words with parents, causing distress, that most likely ruins the mood of the family.
The usual way of handling such instances, considered to be an age-old, easy-to-go solution is corporal punishment, practised in many parts of the world (Gershoff, Grogan-Kaylor, Lansford, Chang, Zelli, Deater-Deckard, Dodge, 2010).
However, as parents – the well-wishers of our children, and their great role-models, we need to handle them in a dynamically shifted way. You may ask why so?
We wish to highlight that:
- Plenty of studies are available to demonstrate that adopting corporal punishment may temporarily suppress the undesired behaviour of the child, but it has some unintended and potentially adverse effects on their psychology and everyday routine (Rohner, Kean, Cournoyer, 1991).
- If such instances are frequent, then it is a wake-up call for us to check our fundamental skills of parenting (Patterson, Chamberlain, Reid, 1982)
It also reminds us of a famous quote by Winston Churchill, “The price of greatness is responsibility”. The onus is thus on parents.
This Sunday morning, our child was cribbing and using words that were not in good taste, my immediate amygdala response resulted in yelling at him and turning out of sight from the scene.
It is important to note here that his mother was with him, trying to calm him down, and this is a very crucial action. There is a significant reduction in the internalising as well as externalising problem of the child with the providence of other parent’s warmth (McKee, Roland, Coffelt, Olson, Forehand, Massari, Jones, Gaffney, Zens, 2007).
We want to thank the prefrontal cortex (Siddiqui, Chatterjee, Kumar, Goyal, 2008) and our practise of Mindfulness (Gouveia, Carona, Canavarro, Moreira, 2016) and Positive Psychology – both as a parent and community educator, that I perceived an emotional downward spiral day or days; an urgency to salvage the situation struck to me and almost instantly, a two-prong approach flashed through my mind:
- Working with his negativity to navigate from this zone
- Paving a way to build underused strengths
I. Working with his negativity
We talked to him the reasons for his feeling. We asked him to acknowledge this feeling, attribute an emotion with it, tag it navigate from this feeling to make more sense of our time and space. To help him do this, we started together the deep breathing exercise and focused at inflating the tummy while inhaling. Within a matter of few deep breaths, we were feeling to talk to each other now.
II. Paving a way to build underused strengths
We recently got done his Strength Profiler Survey, and it took us no time to identify this as the most appropriate time to introduce and educate him about the definitions and importance of the less used strengths, viz. Prudence and Self-Regulation. We explained how if he practices these, it will help him avoid situations that tend to drain energy from our body. And that to build this up, we need to practise it more often when faced with similar circumstances to make it a natural coping strategy (Waters, 2015).
We are delighted to share this with all of you that, there was a gradual and positive change in the dynamics of the entire family and within half an hour time, we were all back to our daily routine. It was followed by swimming time in the afternoon, a home cooked South Indian lunch, a stroll in the evening at Night Market, bedtime stories, and eventually going into slumber.
As I am documenting this entire day here in this blog, the time is 2:45 am SGT of 14 October, and what a relief, after preventing an emotional contagion!
We hope that you and your family may benefit from this experience.
- Gershoff, A.T., Grogan-Kaylor, A., Lansford, J.E., Chang, L., Zelli, A., Deater-Deckard, K., Dodge, K.A., 2010. Parent Discipline Practices in an International Sample: Associations With Child Behaviors and Moderation by Perceived Normativeness. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888480/
- Gouveia, M.J., Carona, C., Canavarro, M.C., Moreira, H., 2016. Self-Compassion and Dispositional Mindfulness Are Associated with Parenting Styles and Parenting Stress: the Mediating Role of Mindful Parenting. Retrieved from https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Gouveia2016.pdf
- McKee, L., Roland, E., Coffelt, N., Olson, A.L., Forehand, R., Massari, C., Jones,D., Gaffney, C.A., Zens, M.S., 2007. Harsh Discipline and Child Problem Behaviors: The Roles of Positive Parenting and Gender. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ardis_Olson/publication/227312033_Harsh_Discipline_and_Child_Problem_Behaviors_The_Roles_of_Positive_Parenting_and_Gender/links/55aeac6b08aed9b7dcdda4c0/Harsh-Discipline-and-Child-Problem-Behaviors-The-Roles-of-Positive-Parenting-and-Gender.pdf
- Patterson, G.R., Chamberlain, P., Reid, J.B., 1982. A comparative evaluation of a parent-training program. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S000578948280021X?via%3Dihub
- Rohner, R.P., Kean, K.J., Cournoyer, D.E., 1991. Effects of Corporal Punishment, Perceived Caretaker Warmth, and Cultural Beliefs on the Psychological Adjustment of Children in St. Kitts, West Indies. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ronald_Rohner/publication/255729003_Effects_of_Corporal_Punishment_Perceived_Caretaker_Warmth_and_Cultural_Beliefs_on_the_Psychological_Adjustment_of_Children_in_St_Kitts_West_Indies/links/59553800aca272fbb379c944/Effects-of-Corporal-Punishment-Perceived-Caretaker-Warmth-and-Cultural-Beliefs-on-the-Psychological-Adjustment-of-Children-in-St-Kitts-West-Indies.pdf
- Siddiqui, S.V., Chatterjee, U., Kumar, D., Siddiqui, A., Goyal, N., 2008. Neuropsychology of Prefrontal Cortex. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738354/
- Waters, L, 2015. The Relationship between Strength-Based Parenting with Children’s Stress Levels and Strength-Based Coping Approaches. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/12701922/The_Relationship_between_Strength-Based_Parenting_with_Children_s_Stress_Levels_and_Strength-Based_Coping_Approaches