Parental Behaviour is the Foundation of Child's Beliefs
Parenting is becoming a matter of concern in today's world. Everything is becoming more crucial and the rate of failure of most newly thought methods in parenting are making parents go ballistic with kids. There has been rapid change in every phase of life and nothing remains same over past 2 decades, so obviously the parenting styles with which a ‘now parent’ grew up are not the same. The parents of today’s era are well informed, but the thing is that kids also have well access to knowledge and disregarding that they know nothing is sheer ignorance. Newly born child responds well to the audio visual stimuli and with a great stability record, which parents use as a distraction. Researchers have proved that by the age of 5 years; 90% of child's brain is developed, this makes the parenting more crucial in this tenure as the values and belief system is also shaping up and child’s ability in long run may be affected due to what they learn in this age. Jean Piaget theory of Cognitive development talks about intellectual element developing in Children from 0 to adolescence which is continued till adulthood. The development of a child in these initial year’s acts as a foundation for entire life and the way a child is given the upbringing in this time can lead to their whole personality development.
However, these days everything is being valued in terms of monetary and economic terms and so the same thing is being taught to kids as well. The values being taught to the kids will shape up their personality as an adult and so if economic value is foremost education that will remain as the only priority in their life when they grow up. Classification in terms of money is somehow the first thing that I see people teaching their kids and they have no idea how could that act lethal. A kid who has not reached the age of puberty is still not taken seriously and when these values solidifies then parents start seeing problems arising in their kids, it becomes difficult for the same parents to manage the kids whom they have filled with their own notions and values. Below is the case of a child whose parents approached me for therapy.Background information:
This child is a male of age 10 years now having both working parents, they stay separately in Delhi and their grandparents live in another city. The child has no siblings; both parents are successful and have an income group of about 50LPA.
Incident 1: Recently, the parents were upset because the child has remarked on a woman who is a housewife; he spoke to her that how she is not working and has less worth as compared to his mother. The mother apologises and says she doesn’t know from where the child has learnt this.
Incident 2: The child is not interested in school or studies though he has all the supplies and modes he requires to excel, he doesn’t feel motivated at all. Parents have no idea what they must do to improve his interest in studies though he is just in 5th standard and still in grading phase of school.
Incident 3: The child constantly demands pricey things and condescends his parents when they decline his requests. He says he is the only child and hence has the reason to get all the things he demands as it is the duty of the parents.
Incident 4: The child aims to study abroad because he feels it is more fulfilling to settle abroad than in India. (At the age of 10)
Incident 5: The child asks the price of gifts being given to him and rejects anything which is less costly or not branded.
Incident 6: The child shows temper tantrums and demands the things he wishes.
Chief Complaints: The parents of the child are very concerned as they claim they have not taught the child any of such things and have no idea from where he has learnt these things. They also informed that child was too young to talk about assets and property to be inherited by him at this age, they are unable to control his anger, nor do they know what to do rather than fulfilling his wishes. A therapy plan was made which was a combination of individual and combined Therapy of Child and Parents.
Findings after taking individual session with the child:
Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.”
The child spoke that his parents constantly talk how successful they are and how they have affluent status w.r.t things they can afford which other people cannot, the child spoke that his mother constantly speaks that how lucky her husband is because she is working, how she can afford any luxury without his help during any argument or otherwise. He considers buying stuff as their parents shop all the time and if they have “20 pair” of shoes, so can he. He said that he knows being the only child he has right to get all the things, because their parents say this all the time, so there isn’t anything unusual for him to say that. He knows that when he will shout, cry and get angry his any wish will be fulfilled.
Upon introspecting him, it was found that he asks price of everything because his parents constantly talked how much money was spent on an item they bought for themselves or him; they also estimated the price of gifts that someone gave them.These findings were kept confidential and then therapy session of Parents were taken
The parents said that they have worked very hard to have this comfortable life even after facing all the hardships of their lives, they said that in today’s era both parents must work and if they get a better lifestyle out of it, it is good. Though they can manage even if one of them works and there is no money crunch in their life, but they would not want to leave their job and lifestyle. They feel that both parents must work as it keeps them more updated and active. They want to earn more and give all the facilities to their child which they didn’t or couldn’t have or have ever wished to have. They try giving him all the values that they must as a parent but still don’t know where he is learning all these things from.
Nurturing the next generation is a big task but somehow this is only being seen in a smaller scope of raising a child. There is another limitation in helping such parents, and that is being a psychologist, you are constantly judged, when a couple comes to seek advice they question your relationship, if you have been married to give marital counselling to understand marriage, if you have a kid to counsel a child, if you stay in a joint family to give family counselling, therefore the effectiveness of a counsellor becomes depended on external factors such as their looks and appearance to raise such questions in the first place, a younger looking or a young counsellor is already is judged as inefficient and lacking in experience without even consulting them. Upon taking the joint session, I faced following problems.
Joint Session findings:
When people come for counselling, they feel that somehow the solution of their problem will not be related to them and be present in the external environment, as soon as they are informed about underlying problems of their behaviour; people become defensive and start questioning the Therapist. They want to believe that the child is to be ‘corrected’ and not them. I asked the parents how they functioned when the child reacted and persisted for getting his wishes fulfilled, they spoke the same thing that he being the only child, they feel it’s ok to not make him cry and give him access to things as they can afford and ‘what else’ could they do. This relational analogy was same stated by the child, when I tried to confront the parents about this behaviour, they became defensive and stated a lot of reasons as how they are busy and stay nuclear and he has no siblings etc.
I asked the parents how they feel about their parents in both cases their mother was a housewife, they didn’t had any problems but said that it would have been better if they were working as they could afford things that they couldn’t and they are proud that the they both are working individuals as they are more successful, capable and superior as their mothers in any form, handling both house and work. Again the statement of the child was correct and similar defense guard came up from the parent. The parents and child came for 12 sessions and then started absconding because they don’t think they are at any mistake and they feel it’s the child who needs to be ‘corrected’.
Goals were set for both parents and kid and confrontation was sought to make them realize how their unconscious and conversational speech patterns were making child to pick up these values.The problem with Counselling therapy is that till the time the client is victim you cannot help them rectify or help them change their behaviour, only in case of a willing client ready for behavioural change, who wants to rectify the current problems and find solutions by setting new goals and accepting changes.
“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.”
A child has many sources to learn and develop beliefs and it’s not that only parents are responsible for their entire learning, they are learning from media, social circle, themselves etc, but it is important to see what they are learning from their parents, in confusion related to their underlying thought, foundation is sought when their thought is approved or disapproved by the people they put their trust in. here, they would turn to their parents and at that time, it is important to lead them to the right path.