“There is no one way to raise a child. Each child is unique and can vary in so many ways in abilities and behavior from others in their group”- Ramgopal Vallath
Ramgopal Vallath, indebted to his own parents for an upbringing that has helped him overcome great challenges and difficulties. He is now set out to meet numerous parents to work out some common guidelines that could help groom a child. The book Active Parenting is the result.
As with his previous bestselling book, From Ouch to Oops, this too is bound to reach out and move its readers, and leave lessons of lasting use in what is one of the most important tasks a parent undertakes: raising a child to be a healthy, resilient, positive adult.
The book is available on Amazon .
Preeti Chaturvedi in conversation with RamG Vallath about his new book on Active Parenting
Your new book “Active Parenting” states that every child is unique and that the parents should not suppress what makes their child different. What are the things one should keep in mind to let their children retain their uniqueness?
The most important point for this is — respect the child. For their uniqueness, their individuality, and also for their differences from you. This respect can be expressed in many ways. First and foremost, parents should encourage the child’s interests and unique abilities, however, these are different from their own. They should also never compare the child to themselves and make remarks such as “I used to be ——– at your age”. When children have differences of opinion, parents should engage with it and understand it and discuss it instead of pushing their own view.
Both parents and the kid grow together. As the kid explores life, the parent understands parenthood. How can we balance the learning-teaching ratio in this relationship?
Parents who demonstrate an openness to constantly learn will use every opportunity to become better parents. For this, being reflective is important. After each significant interaction — a disagreement, a raised voice, an emotional outburst — the parent needs to reflect on what they could have done better. They need to realize that they can only control their own behavior. Hence learning what they did wrong and reflecting on what they could have done better is important. Likewise, what they did right and need to do more of.
The parent’s top priority is the safety of their children, “risk-taking” is a pivotal trait that the child has to develop. What should be the parent’s approach in this scenario?
First and foremost, the parent needs to role model risk-taking. Children learn by observing. Watching parents push themselves out of their comfort zone will help them take risks. Second, every time the child pushes themselves out of their comfort zone, the parent should praise the effort. For example when a shy child makes an effort to talk to an unfamiliar visitor, or a child plays a sport in a team for the first time or is learning a new musical instrument. And most importantly, never judge your child. Make them feel secure and let them know home is a safe space.
Can you share what role does the parent play in developing EQ or socio-emotional maturity in children?
In the initial years, a lot of the child’s interaction and most of the child’s influence are parents. The way parents behave with each other, the way they behave with others, and the way they behave with the child will substantially influence the child’s emotional and social maturity. The parent should open up on their own emotions with the child and encourage the child to share what they are feeling. They should also discuss their own social interactions — personal, professional — and explain the rationale of why they behaved in a certain way.
How can the parent ensure that their child is on the right path without fixating a goal for them?
First of all, the parent should never have a goal for the child except for wanting them to grow up to be happy people who also spread happiness and cheer irrespective of the circumstances and also take ownership for their own lives. The parent should encourage the child to fix their own goals and coach the child from time to time without micromanaging them.
In your book, you have written that “praise the effort and not the talent”. A6) Can you explain the meaning of this statement through an example?
If your child participates in a competition and does well, rather than say “Oh, you are so talented”, say “Wow! I am proud of the hard work you put in to win this”.
In this digital age, the most common problem faced by parents is children’s increased screen time. With the ongoing online classes, is it possible to balance and keep it on a healthy level?
Parents can do two things. Reduce their own screen time and the time they save, spend on family activities with the child. Make these fun times, with undivided attention.
You have given much importance to parents being role models for the children and instilling values by showing instead of telling. How do parents deal with the pressure of always doing the right thing?
One can never do the right thing all the time. It is important to know that this is a journey of constant learning, quite often by making mistakes. But when one makes mistakes, unashamedly and openly own up to it and apologize — to the child where applicable. Then reflect on what one could have done better and try to do things the right way next time.
Active parenting is very important because it goes beyond the bounds of the parent-child relationship. It nurtures and builds social networks as well as provides a foundation for the development of healthy habits like physical activity and good nutrition.
Active parenting is all about building strong relationships with children, designing activities for them to do, and nurturing those relationships by taking care of their needs.
This era requires every parent to take an active role in shaping the experience of their children and themselves. And when they do, both parents and their kids benefit from each other.
Active Parenting: How to Raise Children with Boundless Potential