Last year, at the beginning of the academic session, I had attended a workshop on Parenting skills that was organised at Ammu’s school. Just trying to take stock of things and see how we’ve been faring 🙂 . I will write down each point and Ammu’s respective progress/status as i see it .
The first thing that the presenter spoke of and emphasized on was Emotional Intelligence. Here is the gist of what he said..
‘EQ or ‘Emotional Quotient’ is the most important factor in a person’s life, it is EQ and not IQ that determines ones ability to succeed; to be happy and content.Towards improving the EQ, teach children to recognize and be aware of their emotions…only when they are aware of emotions will they be able to have empathy … with themselves and with others. This goes a long way in preparing them for the ‘Real’ world and determines how they cope with it’.
Ammu seems to be aware of the emotions around her and within her. She understands what it is to be ‘happy’, ‘angry’, ‘sad’ and ‘afraid’. She knows when she is happy. In fact she comes to me and tells me whenever she is happy. For example, when i took her to a park where she liked and enjoyed the slide, she came to me many times and said ‘ I like this mamma… I’m very happy’. She beams with joy when little things make her happy and she makes it a point to let me know! Sometimes, when she is happy for no particular reason, she just says.. ‘i’m very happy mamma’ with a wide grin 😛
Over a period of time, she has learnt to recognise anger. Though, sometimes she isn’t quite sure of the reason for her anger. She says ‘look at me…i’m angry‘ pointing a finger to her face. She’s looks cute doing that and initially, I couldn’t help but smile. But I quickly realized that smile is not the response she’s expecting from me. In fact, she has sometimes felt that I’m mocking at her. So I try my best to keep a straight sober face and ask her the reason for her anger. Sometimes she knows what it is that is making her feel upset … at others she is clueless! I guess she’s doing fine for her age.
But the one thing that bothers me is that she expresses her anger and shouts at us irrespective of the place or the people around! This embarrasses us and makes us think… what are we doing wrong? where is she learning such behavior from? Not sure if this is normal behavior of kids her age or is it the result of the loads of pampering that she got, being the first child/grandchild in the house! I’m trying to explain to her that such behavior is not acceptable and that she’ll be labelled as a bad girl, but she doesn’t seem to be affected by that 😦 Truly appreciate any pointers on how to tackle this !
Then there have been the temper tantrums when i cannot figure out what is wrong. Everything looks normal and that surely makes me go mad at her for throwing a tantrum, that seems unwarranted for! Many times i have got enraged thinking that she’s being defiant and have scolded her; even spanked her for refusing to listen to me.
Sadness is something that’s not seen very often. Ammu is either happy or seething with anger! Yes… it’s that intense, with just the extremes! Of course she cries if she feels bad about something, but it is mostly accompanied with anger. And most of the times, the anger and commotion subside only after she gets a good spanking. No amount of sweet talk or cajoling will do at such times! Initially, i used to get all worked up and sometimes, it would also end in a clash with my dad 😦 . Ever heard of a grandparent who approves of your methods wholeheartedly or one who does not come to the rescue of the poor child!
Of late, my sis and me have tried to hug her and calm her down. Thankfully, it seems to work 🙂 It does a lot of good to me too! I realize that I should not be focusing on or reacting to her apparent defiance, but rather on accepting her moods and helping her handle them in a positive way. Even my dad appreciates me these days… for the effort I put in keeping myself calm and trying to resolve things the smoother way! But of course the spanking times are there as well… just that they are fewer. And I usually resort to it when I recognize the fact that she’ll not end her tirade otherwise. Its all well then; she comes and hugs me and says sorry! For me, this is a big thing coz it means that she realizes her mistake and the fact that her actions have hurt the other person!!
Fear! Ammu is afraid of small insects in a typical girlish way 🙂 She needs to be assured many times over to make her feel comfortable, even when the insect has gone out of her sight. She fears it may come and bite her when she is asleep. Then, there is this natural fear of the dark. She never used to go near a room where the lights were switched off. She wouldn’t go into a room if no one was there. She always calls her thatha to accompany her! I started talking to her about God, telling her that he is present everywhere. That… she just needs to think of Him and not be afraid as He will protect her! At first she didn’t seem convinced but slowly, gradually she seems to have gathered courage. She sometimes goes alone into a room, even a dark one… quickly does whatever it is and comes back. Triumphantly tells me about it too!
At times, there is anxiousness, especially while watching something on TV. She senses from the background music that something unpleasant is about to happen and sometimes switches the channel to avoid watching it. I usually avoid watching content that is not appropriate for the kids. But sometimes i try to calm her by telling that its just a story. But she says that she can see the image while in bed and that she’ll be scared and will not be able to sleep. To help counter this feeling, I have suggested her to chant ‘Om’ or the Gayatri Mantra whenever she feels afraid, especially in bed. I’m happy that she believes it will help her. She has tried this and found that it indeed diverts her mind and makes her calm. Though it does not come instinctively to her yet, i’m trying to reassure her whenever possible and hope that with time, it will come to her naturally.
As for Ammu recognizing emotions in others… she seems to be able to read your face, rather your mind. When I’m quiet and lost in thoughts, she comes up to me and asks me why i’m feeling sad. She expresses her concern whenever anyone in the house is angry or upset and tries to pacify and calm them. She seems to know when someone is in pain! She vehemently supports the person who is being subjected to anger, especially Adi! She somehow manages to find reason for what he does and also manages to convince us. Actually, when she says it from her perspective, it does make sense! It is but natural that a child will understand another child’s view better. No doubt children get along so well 🙂
But then, she is not able to tell disciplining from anger. When any of us says something in a stern manner, she thinks that we are angry with her. Even when we tell her that we are not angry, and that we’re only telling her something, she seems confused. I guess that’s the thing with children. There is always a greater chance of your intent being misunderstood! I feel lucky that Ammu is expressive enough to tell what she feels; at least I can make myself clear about what exactly I intended. It is like this now. I hope she will continue to confide in me always!
There are other emotions as well that are surfacing now-a-days. She doesn’t seem to want to share me with Adi! As he is still small; less than 3 yrs, the way i handle him and talk to him is different from the way I’m with Ammu. Maybe that makes her feel that I’m being partial towards him. And since she is the elder one, we tend to tell her to compromise whenever there is a tug-of-war for the same toy, the same book, etc… I realize that it is not correct to always expect this from her, but its a kind of trap right now! We resort to this because he tends to become aggressive and the only thing he does is scratch her hard and she ends up crying. Most of the times she does not retaliate but if he hurts her real bad, she gives him back with all the force that she can manage! We are still trying to figure out other ways of averting explosive situations.
And though she is possessive and at times fiercely protective of him, there is this wee bit of rivalry or competition. She does not like to give her things to him. In fact, at times she agrees to give to someone else, like the maid’s children, but not to him! This stumps me like nothing else!!
Well! that’s quite a roller coaster of emotions!! When I started writing this, I was aiming at summarizing the status vis-a-vis all the points. Didnt think that just this one point would turn out into such a long post! So, I will stop now and continue the rest of it in another post 🙂