Don’t mollycoddle your child!
Parenting is hard and fraught with worries and tensions, we agree. For new parents, the world suddenly revolves around a tiny, squalling human being and they suddenly realise that the rest of their lives will be devoted to this person, their child. So going down the lane of parenting, many make small mistakes, all with the good intention of giving their child the best in all spheres, physically, emotionally, financially and in the field of education. All this is done with the desire to see their children have everything they want or desire. However, the most frequent mistake that parents make, especially nowadays, is to mollycoddle their children.
Mollycoddling – overindulging or cosseting - is a mistake. By all means, pamper your child and give them what their hearts desire but know when to draw lines. It is extremely important that children learn to stand on their own two feet and if parents do everything for them and shield them from every little thing, then they will grow up expecting others to do their work for them in all spheres of life. They will not be able to make proper decisions or handle challenges and obstacles that life deals them. Too much of a good thing can have negative results.
One of the furthermost mistakes parents make is to be overprotective – they intend to keep children completely out of harm’s way. They might not let the child out in the evenings or at night, insist he wash his hands frequently, screen check his friends, keep a tab on wherever he is with, decide where he goes, etc. This is alright if the child is really small because this will guide him and inculcate healthy habits but for an older child, such a rigid routine might impact his confidence and make him insecure and afraid. Whenever they will want to try something new or are faced with new situations, they will hesitate. They might develop concerns about making friends or going out alone. Constantly harping on what a child wears might make them image and body conscious. If a big fuss is made about every little thing – like a child falling over and hurting himself slightly- it will teach them to magnify insignificant things later on in life. An increased sensitivity to everything is a common outcome of mollycoddling.
A child who leads a sheltered existence will miss out on experiences because they lack the confidence to go out and embrace new situations. Life experiences are necessary so that the child can learn that the world is not merely black or white – he learns to deduce the shades of grey that lie in between. He will also face problems at school because he might not be able to counter the inevitable bullying. They might be the target of children who haven’t had their privileges and might have to face contempt and taunting. When they go out into the harsh world of realities, their mollycoddled childhood might make them insensitive, unprepared and inexperienced.
Spoiling a child is another evil. Parents these days give children everything they want without any boundaries or limits and children thus don’t learn to appreciate or value material wealth. If a child loses an expensive cell phone or breaks it he should be taught that it won’t be instantly replaced. If it is then the child will become complacent and not learn how to take care of things. Also, if you give little children cell phones, allow them to stay up late, go out to parties without studying, this will hamper the inculcation of discipline.
All parents, at one point of time, do their children’s homework for them. However, this should not become a habit. Children must be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. Also, the school system of allowing children to drop subjects at will can be misused if parents demand their child be allowed to study only the subjects which they are good at. The scope for studying an abstract selection of subjects is there in schools which follow an international board. More often than not, teachers complain that parents urge them to allow their children to give up essential subjects like math or science because they are not being able to cope. Make your child study, get him extra help – but don’t allow him to drop a subject the minute he is not getting good grades. This will be extremely detrimental in the long run because children will not learn how to push themselves to do well or excel.
As a result of this, children grow up to be spoiled, over indulgent, and prone to throwing tantrums when they don’t get something they want or they don’t get their own way. This can have disastrous results in adulthood. Discipline is important as they will learn to moderate their habits and draw limits and boundaries on their own.
The children of this generation are largely wrapped in cotton because their parents mollycoddle them. Thus there is a sharp increase in suicides amongst youngsters and other such disturbing news. Children cannot take criticism and expect the world to go their way only. When it doesn’t then their fragile egos are hurt. They aren’t respectful of authority and don’t think twice before blaming school teachers etc. for their failure. Parents are also to blame as they take their side instead of reprimanding them for their mistakes.
Says Mrs Sen, a high school teacher at a reputed school, “When we were in school we were told our teachers are our surrogate parents, if they reprimand us it is for our own good so that we don’t repeat mistakes. That culture no longer exists.” Children are as bold as to question a teacher’s authority even.
This is true; we live in an age where admonishment is looked upon as a crime against children instead of a necessary tool to their learning and growth process. Simple reprimands, punishments and suspension of privileges are mere tools meant to teach children valuable lessons but authorities don’t implement them anymore for fear of reprisal. Overt punishment which can harm the child is crossing the barrier, but we all know that we would not have learn life’s valuable lessons if not for that time we were asked to stand throughout a period in class because we forgot to bring our books, or was suspended for misbehaviour.
Be a friend to your child so that even when you are being a strict parent, he knows that it is for his own good. Teach him ways to improve himself instead of covering up for his mistakes. Encourage his talents and skills but don’t be afraid of pointing out his shortcomings. Above all, discipline him when he crosses boundaries because this way he will know his limits as an adult. They will also learn to face the troubles life throws at them with grit and determination.