“Pampered single child”
The fact of being a single child has done enough harm already to the child as well as to the parents. Beside being in the spotlight as I wrote in my last column, we touch on a new aspect this time.
The single child is a pampered child and receives more of the attention than she/he deserves. Parents in their effort to take the best care of the child overdue their bit and spoil the child. Pampering is in the form of spoon-feeding the child literally and metaphorically. Pampering is in the form of supplying the child with all the gifts and goodies that she needs and does not need at all. Being too soft on the child and giving liberties to the extent of spoiling the child is a third. Not teaching social values of sharing, caring and bonding with others could be a fourth. Another observation is that many of them have no anxiety about the future as they feel secure and safe in their cosy nest of abundance and the actual worry lies with the parents. These are not sweeping generalisations on all children that are ‘single’ but are common observations.
Adil has no clue even in 12 Std of what he is going to do in the future for a living. He has failed in 11 Std and is generally an average student. His mother has to get after him and his studies. He is easy going, casual, sleeps at 2 am and wakes up at 12 noon in holidays. He loves the mobile and is addicted to it -he makes some money doing transactions on it too which he thinks is great of him. He lives in a dream world and has no clue as to what it requires to make a career. His parents are more worried than he as he sits smugly secure in his single position.
Similar is the story of Aditi. She is in std 6th but careless with her things, her room as well as her studies. She loves her pet dog and spends a lot of time with her. She loves her but care taking of her needs is the responsibility of her mother and not her- she only plays with her! She has not a care in the world, has many friends whom she meets and calls them over to her place and her mother slogs for her for she is the darling daughter and apple of her eye. But now as she grows up and enters her teens it begins to worry the mother about her child-like irresponsible behaviour. She throws her wet towel and clothes around her room, leaves her muddy shoes wherever she wants to, does not pick up her plate after eating and throws tantrums when asked or scolded for bad behaviour. Her mother now worries when bad habits have already set in and have stabilised so to say.
Shruti at age 10 has already become a brat. She demands expensive toys, exclusive clothes, parties for her friends in costly joints, and wants to hang out with friends. She threatens her parents for rewards even for going to the toilet and bathing! She was ill for some time and after she recovered from the illness, she became even more difficult for she got a lot of attention and could threaten her parents with anything. She realised her power to control her parents who seemed to be ‘eating out of her hands.’ They had never used the rod and never punished her for she was a tender little girl with health issues.
Parenting rules follow the same course irrespective of the number of children. If there is one child or three the principles remain the same. Firstly, the parents should remain in control of the child and not vice-versa. Under no circumstances the child should be able to control or threaten the parents for that becomes your weakest point for you to get exploited by the child. Children are great manipulators and know the psychological principles of ‘classical and operant conditioning’ more than adults. Secondly make a list of good habits that you would like to inculcate in your child- obedience, independence, responsibility for self, self- help skills (not spoon feeding), helping in the household chores, sharing with others, manners and discipline. Thirdly, start good habits early and not late. Do not allow bad habits to breed in childhood and then fret over them when they touch their teens for by then the habits have solidified. Whenever you notice a bad behaviour check it and snip it off. Don’t brush it aside by saying ‘he is just a child’. Fourth, talk and discuss issues about life and the reality. Discuss and plan the child’s academics and future career as an important focus of all. Don’t postpone it for ‘after 10th Std’. Understand and use the principles of ‘reward and punishment’ for parenting. Read up books on psychology and the simple rules for bringing up and healthy and happy child.