“Is your child depressed?” Mumbai Mirror, ToI, 26 Mar 12

A very pertinent read following a case where 6 teenaged girls, tired of poverty, taunts ran away from their homes.

Every generation will tell you how they feel that kids “today” are growing up way faster than the previous ones and its true; better nutrition, exposure to mass communication and increase in urbanisation and consumption behaviour has lead to children maturing faster than before.

Parenting thus needs to evolve with the times; gone are the days when kids followed and did what you said because ‘you said so’.  In my opinion, the ONLY way to raise kids today is by example and by treating them with respect.

Respect is one factor that most parents ignore while raising kids; very simply put, respect in this context would mean treating your children the way you’d like to be treated by others.

Also if you want your children to pick up good values and habits, its time you looked in the mirror and lead by example.  Children especially pre-teens are like clay and get moulded as per their environment and the home is perhaps the most critical of these environments.

Respect also involves listening; listen to your children like you’d listen to an adult whose opinion and views matter to you, give them your undivided attention and try to understand their point of view even if it is at loggerheads with yours.

Involve your children in household matters to the extent possible.  Start early by giving them responsibilities around the home and see them blossom; we all thrive under love and appreciation and our young ones are no different.

As a family, make it point to share your feelings and emotions with your children; an upset parent can have a devastating effect on a child’s self esteem.

Avoid domestic quarrels in front of your children and if you’ve erred on this side, sit your kids down and explain the situation to them so that they are reassured that the problem is not them and there is a solution.  Apologise for your bad behaviour; respect is earned and is not a matter of seniority or position.

Lastly, focus on the EQ (emotional quotient) which comes with quality time spent, unconditional love and communication; do not underestimate your children’s ability to express feelings and feel free to show them your human side too.

You will be amazed by the things you’d learn from your offspring.

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