Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi

Creating a healthy environment in strict parenting homes is essential for fostering positive mental health in children where striking a balance between discipline and emotional support is key to ensuring that children grow up with a strong sense of self-esteem, autonomy and emotional well-being. In 2011, the book ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ gripped public imagination in the US and Europe where the book chronicled the real life experiences of an Asian mother in the US, bringing up two young daughters and her strict parenting style focused on a purely success based outcome for her children.

Tips to foster positive mental health in strict parenting homes (Photo by Monstera Production)

The book was divisive and controversial but it raised one important question – as parents, what are the right goals to pursue for our children? In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Shradha Malik, CEO and Founder of Athena Behavorial Health, mentioned some of the key strategies that may help –

  • Communication is crucial: Parents in strict households should engage in open and nonjudgmental conversations with their children. Encouraging children to express their thoughts and feelings without fear of reprimand helps them develop emotional intelligence and coping skills. This promotes a sense of safety and trust within the family, which is vital for positive mental health.
  • Set realistic expectations: While discipline is important, unattainable standards can lead to feelings of inadequacy and stress. Parents should focus on acknowledging their child’s efforts rather than just their achievements. This helps children develop a healthy sense of self-worth and reduces the likelihood of perfectionism-related issues.
  • Allow space for autonomy: Strict parenting can sometimes stifle a child’s independence and decision-making skills. Allowing children to make age-appropriate choices and learn from their mistakes fosters resilience and self-confidence.
  • Promote a balanced lifestyle: In strict households, children may have limited opportunities for relaxation and recreation. Encouraging regular physical activity, hobbies, and creative expression helps children manage stress and develop a well-rounded sense of self.
  • Demonstrate emotional regulation: Parents serve as role models for managing emotions. When parents model healthy ways of coping with stress and frustration, children are more likely to adopt similar strategies.
  • Identify the significance of affection: While strict households may emphasize discipline, showing love and affection is equally crucial. Regularly expressing love and support helps children feel valued and understood, contributing to their overall emotional well-being.

Fostering positive mental health in strict parenting homes requires a delicate balance between discipline and emotional support and it is important for parents to raise resilient, self-assured individuals who can navigate life’s challenges with confidence and grace. Praneet Mungali, Education Entrepreneur and Trustee and Secretary of the Sanskriti Group of Schools in Pune, shared, “A strict parenting home environment was the norm for most young adults in India as recently as a decade ago where the main focus of the parents was to give their children a toolkit for professional success. The woke zeitgeist propagated by many young urban parents now is different. If you ask parents what they want most for their kids, many will answer, “I want them to be happy and have a good life” but what does this actually mean?”

He opined, “For Dr Robert Waldinger, this question of what constitutes a “good life” isn’t a hypothetical. Waldinger directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which, for more than 80 years, has followed the lives of almost 2000 participants with the goal of analysing what really makes people happy across time? “We need to unpack the word ‘happy’ and ask, ‘What do I really want for my kids?” Waldinger says if the goal is to create lifelong bedrock of emotional well being and a secure attachment style for our children then there are a few tips and methods that even strict parenting households can pursue. These are relatively easy.”

Highlighting that research shows that a shared ritual like family dinners, which ensures that all family members are in one room at a certain time every day, is hugely beneficial for a sense of connection and well being, Praneet Mungali said, “Family rituals experienced as a child has a positive effect on lifelong mental health. Some other methods are encouraging generosity, curiosity and encouraging discussions about feelings and emotions. It is also important to remember that a good life for children is different from an easy one where parents solve all the problems. A good life also means facing challenges, distress and other emotional ups and downs with the confidence that there are adults who will let you make your mistakes but will also protect you.”

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