Tag Archives: Children

How to raise a kind child?

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We Pakistanis are notorious for our cynicism and apathy. Some say this cynicism is a survival mechanism brought about by the poor law and order situation and the level of deceit, cheating and widespread poverty in our society. It has come to a point where the majority of the city dwellers consider every person especially belonging to the lower class as a fraud, be it the maid or the driver or the beggar on the street. While some may argue this is necessary to protect our self interests but I firmly believe people are innocent until proven guilty. Negative people are rarely happy and if you are always thinking and attributing bad intentions to others you will create an aura of negativity around yourself which will harm yourself the most.

And this negative attitude filters to our children. When I was teaching ethics to my seven graders, I was surprised by the level of mistrust found in a bunch of 12 year olds, supposedly the future of our nation. When asked how can they help their servants most of them were of the view that servants are a bunch of lazy, stealing crooks. And it is best to treat them harshly so that they remain in control. Disappointing. This is the mindset they learned from their parents.

As parents we are our children’s first role models. Children are very observant. They are paying attention even when you think they are engrossed elsewhere. So the saying that ‘Be the person you want your child to be’ is so true. Kindness begins at home. Treat your spouse and your children with kindness and politeness even when you are angry. Treat the hired help in your home respectfully. Many would argue that if you treat them politely they would trample all over you and not work properly. Here I would like to point out the difference between aggressiveness and assertiveness. You can be polite while being assertive. For example your maid is taking too many days off on the pretext of sickness or other reasons. Instead of shouting at her, you could calmly tell her that she can only take a specified  number of days off in a month. Anymore and her salary will be deducted. Always focus on win win solutions.

In a metropolis like Karachi which is steaming with beggars at every traffic signal, it is difficult not to get annoyed by their persistent demands. I have seen people rebuking street children and beggars very harshly, even abusing them. Do not give them money but at the same time set an example for your children by never speaking harshly to  them. Help the children selling tissue papers, toys, dust cloths by buying from them even when you do not need those things. They are trying to earn a respectful earning for themselves and should be encouraged. If your children are old enough to be getting pocket money, encourage but never force them to buy stuff from these children. Or sometimes buying a treat for a random beggar is also a good idea. For example it is very hot and your child is buying a packet of juice for himself. Encourage him to buy one extra and give it to the boy cleaning car windows in the scorching sun.

Children have an innate desire to help each other. It is we who make them into selfish individuals by our own behavior. Even a two year old can be taught empathy and encouraged to share her pack of  biscuits sometimes with a beggar. Generally after age three children have the ability to learn to share. Never punish them for not sharing but always encourage them. When they see you doing it, they would also want to share.

Instill in them a sense of empathy and gratefulness by telling them how lucky they are to have so many things and how some people do not even  have enough food. My two year old once surprised me by looking at a hand less beggar and then staring at her own hands and declaring, “Uncle does not have hands, H has hands!’ I was dumbfounded by that observation for a minute. But then realized that this is great teachable moment. So I told  her that we need to thank Allah that He has given us hands and help people who do not.

Sometimes in our quest to protect our children from emotional pain we do not let them see the misery of others. But at the same time to raise empathetic, helpful adults it is imperative to let them see and help the less fortunate in our society. A good idea is to take your younger children to the Dar ul sukun if you reside in Karachi or to any orphanage. Bake cupcakes or buy treats for them and then let your child hand it out. For older children let them save their pocket money and every month take some portion out for the needy. Take them to buy clothes or other essentials for the poor. Involve them in volunteering at welfare organizations. There are so many ways to encourage and motivate children and inculcate in them kindness but first you have to start with yourself.

Enjoy your child!

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days are long but years are short

It is a beautiful day here in Karachi. Sunny with just the right amount of chill in the weather. Not enough chilly to make you pull out a sweater but enough that you will break out in goosebumps when you do Wudu for Fajr. Little H is finally sleeping after waking up at 5 a.m. and driving me crazy for two solid hours! Little Madam wanted me to sit and pat her to sleep forever and if she caught me closing my eyes or lying down a tantrum will ensue. H’s latest quirk is having me pat her for ages while I sit. I am not allowed to close my eyes or lie down. It does not matter whether it is 12 a.m. or 3 a.m. or whether she has woken up for the zillionth time, the same procedure must be repeated. I am seriously thinking why haven’t a mechanical mommy arm been invented!!! I feel like one of the handmaidens of Mughal times who were supposed to fan their mistresses all night in the hot Indian summers. So here I am rewarding myself with some me time with a huge breakfast, a steaming mug of tea and my laptop. Of course my heart jumps whenever I hear a voice from the bedroom. and that is every few minutes because  being a mommy means hearing an imaginary baby cry all the time. So not good for my poor heart, I tell you.

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Anyway I was ruminating about this quote someone said about motherhood, about how the days are long but the years are short. So true. Sometimes I feel like it was just yesterday that I brought H from the hospital all bundled up in pink. I do not remember much about the first six months. It is a blur of marathon breastfeeding sensations, and never ending poopy diapers. I look at other people’s babies and I wish I could go back to little H’s infant hood and take a moment to just cuddle her and stare at her perfect little hands and feet. As is the tradition here, when all the extended family came to visit me after the baby, the aunties will look wistfully at the baby and say enjoy this time, it is not going to come back. And in my mind I would go like I know it is not going to come back but how am I supposed to enjoy with a baby who refuses to ever sleep, cries incessantly combined with a difficult post partum recovery.

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Once little H turned around eight months, she developed extreme separation anxiety. No one was as good as mama and no place was better than mama’s lap. She wanted to be held all the time. I googled stuff, all the websites said separation anxiety will abate after a few months. I waited and waited but no as she grew older it just got worse. She just wanted and still wants her mama. And not just to be around me, but to be held by me. I grew increasingly frustrated as it was literally impossible for me to do any cooking, cleaning or other chores. I once even burned her while trying to cook while carrying her. Guilt made me miserable for days after that. But still stuff had to be done. I can now cook a three course mean while carrying her. Mommy superpower! I am sad that despite all the useless advice I got on H’s clinginess, nobody ever told me to buy a baby carrier and wear your baby! H has always been a very perceptive baby so the more frustrated I got with her, she would absorb my anxiety and cling to me even more. In retrospect I realize I was unconsciously pushing her away. If I could just have let her be and spent time with her, her clingy phase would probably have ended sooner.

seperation anxiety

After two years, I have realized the chores can wait, everything else can wait but my baby will only be two once. She would be this adorable and cute only once. So now I try to cuddle her longer in the mornings. When she beckons me to come play pretend games with her, instead of a hurried no I am busy now, I try to take two minutes to give her my full attention and do what she wants to. It is amazing how five minutes can make a difference to a child. They will be happy with just the five minutes you sit with them and will often go off to play by themselves after that. You do not have to sit and play for a half hour and let your chores wait. Life has become so fast and filled with never ending to do lists, social commitments and chores that it is very easy to consider your children as a distraction from all that you have to do. I have been guilty of that. But we need to remember children are our greatest priority and they will be young only once. So mamas, sit down, stop what you are doing, look in your child’s eyes, give them a hug and go start a pillow fight. Go create memories!