From tackling the tech monster to dealing with own emotions in interactions with their children, worried parents raised several queries at the Express Masterclass session on parenting pre-adolescent children on Saturday.
During the session at the Bombay International School in Gamdevi, developmental pediatrician Dr Vibha Krishnamurthy discussed various concerns, like the right form of communication, relationships with their children, disciplining with punishment and also how to deal with parenting in joint family households. The session also addressed parents' queries on how to deal with different parenting styles between the mother and the father.
A parent to two teenagers, Krishnamurthy helped the parents of children aged between 6 and 11 years deal with different issues faced by them in disciplining their children. "Parents of this age group face difficulties in disciplining their children with regard to food, technology and even sibling behaviour. They also need help in initiating conversation about sexuality and high risk behaviour like smoking, drugs and alcohol. At the same time they have to ensure that the children do not think poorly about themselves," said Dr Krishnamurthy, who has been in the field for over two decades and runs Child Development Center Ummeed.
During the three-hour session, she also conducted activities to help the parents understand their relationship with their children. She asked the parents to note down any special activity they do with their children and how it helps their relation. Among the various responses, a mother spoke about walking to the library with her child which helped them communicate better and a father spoke about his trips with his son.
While discussing the issue of punishment, she said, "The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) shows the prevalence of corporal punishment in India is at 90 per cent. But hitting your kids doesn't help. The result must be enforced in a respectful way."
Speaking on dealing with the use of phones and technology among children, Dr Krishnamurthy advised the parents to lead by example. "If you are not going to control your phone usage then it will be hard for you to set rules for them. Be the change you want to see and it has to be a family decision. In this age the locus of decision has to be between the children and you. After 12 you are going to find it difficult to be the decision-maker," she added.
The parents also pitched in with ideas to deal with the issue. A mother of three children said, "During the week they have a tight schedule to follow allowing them very little screen time and during the weekends I try to engage them with other activities. On Saturdays we do activities they like and on Sundays we try to go for picnics. The best way to keep them away from the phone is to provide them with better alternatives."
Niren Shah, a father of two pre-adolescent children, said, "The session helped address a lot of the questions we had in mind about bringing up our children. Parenting is not an easy task and we know if we have done it right only when we see our grown-up children. It is important to know how to do it right."