In the month of March where the world celebrate International Women's Day, Cactus Foundation highlights it's unique and crucial initiative of *Key to Change - Raise Responsible Boys*
Empowering women is just one end of the spectrum to end gender based violence, another very important and ignored aspect of this fight is to raise males to step outside of the toxic standards set for them of looking at females as inferior to them.
Key to Change suggests 12 Action Points that can be put to use by families and parents to Raise Responsible Boys. This blog post addresses in detail, action point no. 6
Some kids bark orders, refuse to share—and are raised by clueless parents with lots of money who spoil them rotten and don't spend a minute on discipline, right? Not necessarily. We've all been a witness to a 4-year-old throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, or the neighbor's kid who never has a nice word to say to his parents. But even the most loving and attentive parents can end up with a stubborn child, simply by their over pampering practices.
A brat-proof behavior implies impulsivity, intolerance and lack of self-control. Brattish behavior can manifest into aggressive and hostile acts of domestic violence, bullying, rapes, homophobia, etc. However it also signifies the outbursts that even grown men display, thinking that they are entitled or that they have every right to throw tantrums at their wives, children, sisters, mothers etc. Our cultural setup of gender bias that treats the male child as a king is also to blame. The root cause of this brattish behavior in adulthood lies in the early years of a child's experience. Hence, It becomes important for you as a parent to identify, control and manage this kind of behavior as early as possible.
There is no excuse for bratty behavior, regardless of your child's age or stage—but there are solutions. Following are simple ways you can work around this issue.
1) Do not encourage behavior driven by impulses
As a parent, you might feel a strong motivation to provide everything to your child and also try to fulfill all their wishes. In doing so, you are unintentionally raising a generation that is self-absorbed, where I and me take the center stage and the we feeling takes the backseat.
Kids and parents are clearly the most easy victims of media dump or easy targets of advertisements and product industry. You might be giving your child an excess of toys, dresses, branded products etc. By supplying your child with a new toy, one thing after the other, you raise a boy who has a low attention span and gets easily bored of one activity or object.
Another point worth highlighting is that some parents who don't know how to handle their child's tantrum might easily give in to every demand of their child. You perhaps start distracting your child with a smartphone or anything else that is more convenient, without realizing the emotional consequences and the long term effects. Impulsivity, in adult life especially, has enormous consequences of impulsive spending or taking decisions, acting out on anger, engaging in unsafe relationships and so on.
2) Focus on Parenting that is connective
A gentle kind of parenting that focuses on building a connection or bond with your child is highly efficient in brat-proofing boys. Don't reprimand because it reinforces the idea that "this is how you punish someone who doesn't listen to you" in your child. Never go into an authoritative mode of parenting and turn dismissive of your child's views. Most parents start yelling and try to put their kids in the time-out zone when he is crying for attention or feeling bad. This is not a fruitful action. Instead be in the consultant mode, but be firm. Do acknowledge their feelings and give physical touch with consent and when they need reassurance or support. Also remember that you are the role model for your child. So, when you practice what you preach, it makes your child feel more connected to you. If you are able to take control of your impulsive anger and converse effectively, your child will feel motivated to follow you back.
3) Differentiate between needs and wants
A need is a requirement for a safe, stable and healthy life. While, wants are innumerable. As a parent you should be able to differentiate between what your child needs and wants. You must bring a balance to these alternatives. A creative play might be a need for your 3-year old boy but not an iphone or branded clothes. So choose wisely. However it is completely acceptable to give in once in a while but you need to be firm when you can't do so.
4) Allow delayed gratification
Delayed gratification is the refusal of an immediate pleasure in the hope of receiving a valuable and long-lasting reward in the long run.
Being told to sit quietly while your parent is off talking to an adult, or to turn off the TV for a few seconds, or to wait until the guests arrive are some of the most difficult challenges in a child's life. Such was the Stanford marshmallow experiment on delayed gratification in 1972, led by psychologist Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford University. The children were given a simple choice: one treat right now or two treats later(marshmallow). This series of experiments proved that the ability to delay gratification is critical for success in life.
You can guide your child to delay gratification through simple and everyday activities. Most kids undoubtedly like cakes. So begin by asking your kid about what they like the most, crust or the icing? Whatever their answer, ask them to eat it later and have the less important part first.
5) Build disappointment tolerance
As highlighted before, parents are unintentionally or unintentionally creating a generation of kids who hold narcissistic views, wish to be the center of attention, and don't know how to handle disappointments to the extent that they find even the day to day defeats as stressful. Disappointment is only a natural emotion to feel. However, as a parent it's your job to help your child explore his possible course of action as opposed to sulking or throwing a tantrum. It is important that they develop a resilient attitude and learn to bounce back.
6) Build frustration tolerance
Frustration tolerance refers to one's ability to cope with and manage feelings of frustration and disappointment when faced with obstacles or setbacks. Kids with low frustration tolerance may give up easily or avoid tough tasks altogether. If there are no rewards associated with a task, your child might not want to do it altogether. Low frustration tolerance in early years can easily be carried to adulthood where it can significantly impact their future performance. Also, it can quite drastically impact their relationships. People who have a low frustration tolerance may be more likely to lash out when they are frustrated. They may lack patience for their partners' behavior or intolerance to everyday situations such as waiting for a table at a restaurant, which can lead to increased tension in the relationship.
7) Communicate and listen actively
Communication that gets you together with your child is the key. So sit down. Try to identify the triggers that are leading to temper tantrums in your child. Have the courage to ask your child “How did you feel when I yelled at you?” or say “I'm sorry for yelling at you”. Have a non-punitive and positive disciplining method in your house.
As mentioned before, you are your child's role model. So, even though you might be tempted to swipe your phone or complete that one netflix series to avoid having that one important conversation with your child, set it aside. Be active, present and conscious during the conversations with your child.
Remember that you have a responsibility. You might quite strongly expect your child to behave himself and control his impulses by the age of 8 or 10. But, how will the child not ask you for things when he has never learnt to take a no since his early years. You saying NO to your child, all after a decade is only going to confuse and agitate your child further. That is why, start early. Maybe it's about candies, video games, brand of shoe or toy for today but tomorrow your boy will start demanding from not only you but also from friends, spouse, colleagues. They will not expect things in a relationship but demand them.
While implementing all these suggestions, remember to be realistic. It is not a quick fix and will not work overnight so don't be disheartened when things don't go your way. Be consistent and gentle throughout because discipline happens with love. We at Cactus believe in Responsible and conscious parenting.
Watch this video by Cactus Founder Director, Nusrat Khan talking about the Action Point no. 6