I attend a weekly class to learn Sanskrit. Yesterday, during the class, while explaining some concept in a lesson, Vasantha Ma’am spoke of something that I took to be an insightful tip for parents. She was explaining how her father used to take the kids out to Lalbagh or Cubbon Park every Sunday – it was their special day to go out and also spend time with their father whom they otherwise rarely saw because he left early in the morning and returned late in the night. Sounds quite similar to many of the dads today in high-pressure jobs but Vasantha Ma’am is a retired bank official who took to Sanskrit learning and later teaching; so her childhood means we’re talking of around the 1950’s.
When they went to these public gardens, the kids would love to look at the several flowers and one or the other of them would reach out to pluck a flower. Then, their dad would tell them, “Oh yes, go ahead and pick the flower. Now, you will pick one, after sometime someone else will, every day a few people will pick the flowers – so, by next Sunday, there won’t be any flowers left. So, there’s no need for us all to come to this place, let’s just spend the day at home.”
Vasantha Ma’am said that when explained in that way, they would listen to him because for one, it helped them understand that they would destroy the beauty of the garden and also, there would be no Sunday outing. She compared this way of getting kids to listen to you with what some parents tell their kids: “Don’t do xyz because Daddy/Mummy/Aunty/Uncle/Police/some other authority figure will scold you.”
In my own experience too, I’ve found that explaining the logic behind something always ensures my son’s compliance with a regularity that’s missing on the few occasions when I use, “Because I say so.” Of course, now that he’s in his teens, using the latter is a sure shot way to flag rebellion and I don’t bring it out except on the rarest of occasions.
There are many other things I’ve learned from observing other cool parents, my own experience and a study of parenting books. I’ve shared some of those in this talk I presented at the Annual Day Celebrations of a Playschool in Bangalore in February this year. Do check out this video – would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Suggestions, feedback, questions – all welcome!