How should I deal with my naughty children?
Q: I have two sons aged 8 and 4 years old. The elder one was initially very well mannered until the smaller one started to get naughty. Now both are equally naughty. They watch too many cartoons and now have started acting like cartoon characters. Sometimes this becomes very embarrassing; e.g. they start hanging out their tongue and panting like a dog when they see food that they like. My elder son, who is in class 3 is starting to fall back on his studies and losing concentration. How should we deal with this? I have tried all tricks, being friendly, being strict but nothing works for more than a day.
A:Your last sentence is very revealing. You say that you have "tried all tricks, being friendly, being strict but nothing works". If you think of your parenting role as putting on a mask and acting strict or friendly, you have got it all wrong. Please review the scene yourself.
- How can children watch TV without the sanction of parents? It seems to me that you have used TV as a baby sitter and set no rules for how much time the boys can watch it.
- Your being friendly should not be an act that you put on for a few minutes. It should be everyday, all the time. The children should have confidence to come to you with a problem or share a school experience with you.
- You should go for walks with them, if possible and take them out of the city at least on the weekends. Think of games the family can play together. Or get some children from the houses around to play team games. All this needs effort and you have to put your heart in it.
- Storybooks, children's music, indoor games and puzzles - these are more wholesome for the boys to engage in than watching cartoons. You should gradually wean them off TV. Restrict their TV time.
- Talk to your 8-year-old and find out why he is losing interest in school. Parental affection and involvement is the most important thing in their lives and no psychologist's counsel can be a substitute for that.
- The father should also take an active part in child rearing. Maybe he could read them a bedtime story just before they sleep. It would benefit the whole family: the father, the children and you, the mother.