Ways to bring up a girl child, to face the future with a balance -January 1st, 2008
Mrs. K. Mathangi, Singapore
Physical development (includes health and hygiene), emotional development (child’s personality), mental development (academics, creativity), intellectual development and participation in society are the most important aspects that has to be taken into account in the upbringing of a child.
Rather than the detailed theoritical analysis, let us look at some practical situations.
A. Home One
Eight year old Deepa is doing her homework. Her four year old brother Dinesh comes near her; he pulls her note when she is about to write something. Deepa shoves him or pushes him. He cries or whines. The parent immediately tells Deepa to give it up to her brother, and not to put a big show, as nothing has happened.
Message to Deepa or what Deepa understands
Now Deepa feels that she has been the scape goat, in the tiff between she and her brother. In this case, physical abuse is also incorrect. The parent or caretaker of Dinesh must ensure that he does’nt disturb Deepa when she is studying and also must engage him by other means.
Deepa returns home from school to find her favourite toy to be in Dinesh’s hands. She wants it back from him, and when he refuses to give, parents try to convince Deepa like, ‘Aren’t you a good girl?’ you are the older kid. “Why don’t you give it to your brother?”etc…
If this happens on and often ( little girls get carried away by words such as good, sweet, cute etc) then, when Deepa grows into an adult, she would develop a tendency to be submissive. Be it is her office or home, she will try to go a an extra mile and carry the extra burden in her shoulders.
Lesson for Parents
Dinesh being four years younger to Deepa will ever be younger and Deepa will ever be elder. Sharing love between the siblings, is important. At the same time, it is essential for parents to look at both the sides of a coin.
The parent or caretaker must tell Dinesh to wait until she comes and asks her permission, and if that toy is not meant for the child’s play or is fragile, then they should tell the child politely. Deepa may surprise her brother with some other toy or offer to play with him some other game.
What Deepa understands
I am given importance. When Deepa grows up she will not be submissive to anyone.
Pushpa is with her mother/father in a birthday party or some gathering and when some one casually tells Pushpa’s mother, “I think your daughter Pushpa has taken after her father/mother/your parents/ you for her dark complexion”, while Pushpa is around and listining to the conversation.
The parent must react to appease Pushpa and tell immediately that, ‘she is very good at ….. plus I am proud of her/ feel blessed for being her parent, and others.
Though these kinds of physical criticism might look trivial, it can seriously offend the person concerned.
What Pushpa learns: My skills and knowledge are more important than how I look. Her self esteem is protected, in fact raised. She will strive with enthusiasm in her career and family.
Do not just appreciate your girl child with doting words like cute, pretty, lovely and so on. Rather, praise the child as smart child, thoughtful child, caring child etc.
When bring up boys and girls in a family…
While bringing up your girl along with a male sibling, do not ever use gender bias knowingly or unknowingly. Rules for personal hygiene, choice of nutritious food etc are applicable to both boys and girls. There should not be any fear or favour. Home rules are home rules, applicable to children, be a boy or a girl. Opportunities to nurture their talents must be provided be a boy or girl.
Even your teen son can do things like folding the clothes, filling up the water jug, placing the plates for dinner, clearing the garbage and so on. Do never reserve household chores based on gender.
Your son may love art and daughter may choose foot-ball. Welcome their choice help them to get training in their fields of choice. Girl can choose blue and boy pink. When choosing toys for children/ gifts for birthdays or other occasions, a plane, building blocks are a good choice for girls, rather than made up girl toys with different costumes, kitchen set etc.
It is very easy to advice children and preach often about virtues and values; When they are over preached, they just do not follow. This is not a joke but rather something to be taken care of and what it is ?
The answer is simple. Do what you preach. Children are great imitators, and love to follow what is being demonstated in front of them.
First, identify the nature, that prevails in your family. Is it, passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive or assertive. Aggressiveness, is not as effective as it looks. It may prove effective, just for that time.
Passive though seems to be sweet, is even more dangerous. When you are passive you lose control, same is the situation when you are aggressive which also makes you lose your control over the situation.
Practise assertive communication in the family. Assertive communication does not put down another person, repel a person from taking decisions on important issues. It nourishes satisfactory communication where everyone’s needs are met, no one is made a scapegoat, no one goes away with a lion’s share. Communication must care respect for self as well as others. It doesn’t mean that you get your way all the time, but chances of getting the best solution, with everyone’s selfesteem intact are more. Let your little girl and boy be given a graceful atmosphere to grow up in.
I quote here a saying which is important and can be used as a reference to the outcome of a well broughtup child, be male or female.
Honesty + hardwork+ humility = heights. A friendly relaxed, very down to earth and yet extraordinarily advance in their skills – a gift to the society.