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Bridge the gap

The rules of raising a child change, but the fundamentals remain, says Jitendra Nagpal

education Updated: Jan 13, 2010 09:23 IST
Jitendra Nagpal

It is not uncommon to see young couples seeking guidance on the art of ‘new-age parenting’. With the trials and tribulations of a fast-track life, this art has challenges for every generation, especially in a world of virtual connections.

Of all the jobs in the world, being a parent may be the trickiest.

Children are often hard to understand, and to control. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, it seems that everything we do is wrong. No one can make parenting easy. But by learning more about children and their needs and by talking to other parents, we can learn many things to make us more effective as parents.

Though caregivers, teachers, friends, and the media are important in children’s lives, research shows that parents are the most important influence. It requires skills, flexibility and openness to learn how to be the right influence. Whether you raise a child with a partner or as a single parent, you need support from family, friends and society.

Common parenting styles
A parenting style refers to the way parents interact with children, meet their demands and care for them. Practices differ, but overall, four styles have been noted:

Authoritarian-autocratic: In this pattern, parents put strict control on children — they are not allowed to express their views, and may get severe punishment. Such children lack social competence and spontaneity.

Indulgent-permissive: Here, parents use little or no punishment, avoid asserting authority and make fewer demands for mature behaviour. This makes children impulsive, aggressive and unable to take responsibility.

Authoritative-reciprocal: These parents set clear standards for behaviour and firmly enforce the rules with commands and sanctions. At the same time, they encourage children’s autonomy, discuss issues with them and arrive at a consensus.

This makes children ‘independent’ in both the cognitive and social spheres and in self-confident.

Indifferent-uninvolved: Some parents are harsh, unresponsive and neglect the child.

There is hardly any interaction between parents and the child. This interferes with the optimal development of children. The children become aggressive.

Successful parenting
Here are some guidelines:
. Love your children for what they are, not for what you wish them to be
. Listen when they talk.
. Discipline your children. Keep a regular schedule of meals, naps and bedtimes
. Criticise the behaviour, not the child... and give praise, too, to boost their
. Be clear in your rules
. Give your child your undivided attention sometimes.
. Know your child’s abilities.

The author is a senior consultant psychiatrist with Moolchand Medcity and Vimhans, New Delhi. Send him an email at, marked ‘Dr Nagpal’