When my daughter was born, we had visions of a sweet angel mild-mannered and gentle, since both I and my husband are calm, even-tempered people. Lovely and angelic she truly was, but with a streak of stubbornness and temper that we were at a complete loss on how to manage.
Our daughter (now 5 and a half years ) is an intelligent, extremely sensitive and affectionate child but also very quick to become impatient, feels bad about things and then sulks or throws a major tantrum. Since the time she has turned two, the so-called terrible twos have kept us on our toes with constant temper tantrums and meltdowns, and then apologies and tears on both sides
At these times I have explained, cajoled, negotiated and even pleaded with her, but mostly not been able to sway her. At such times, others especially the elders will look at you with disapproval and judgement that you can’t even manage your child. And believe me, you will begin to question your parenting skills. You will hear advice like sometimes it’s good to be firm, we used to slap our children and they turned out fine, you are too soft. Children will only listen to you if they are scared of you. Trust me I have heard it all to the extent that I am responsible for spoiling my kids.
I will not lie there have been times when I have wanted to bang my head in frustration or just run away from it all. There have been visits to the malls and toy stores where after doing all that I can, one more and then one more unreasonable demand comes up and I have burst into tears of frustration. But even at these times, it has never occurred to me to raise my hand on her. Never once has it occurred to me that I can scare her into listening or discipline her by using force.
I know that it is not easy, but for me hitting is just not okay. Hitting someone smaller or who you perceive as weaker is never okay. How is it that we create such a noise if a husband hits his wife, but it’s okay to hit your children just because you can. This show of force and superiority has very short-lived results if any, and a lot of harmful consequences on the child’s mind.
Children certainly need to be disciplined but by firmness and explanation however impossible it may seem. And I can vouch for it from my personal experience that nothing works better than the magic of unconditional love, patience, and guidance. My daughter is now more amenable to listening and much more flexible. There is a gradual but distinctive change in her as she is more open and flexible.
I want my children to feel that with their parents by their side there is nothing to be scared of. That they grow up to be strong and fearless and scared of nothing, least of all of us.
This is my take on this aspect of child raising, would love to hear more opinions from all of you.