Parenting is like a city, observe one and you can get immense tips about your parenting style and how to enhance it. Sounds crazy? Well, here is how to go about it.
I recently visited Chandigarh, the first planned city of Independent India. It has been designed by a French gentleman, so your question, ‘why not an Indian’? The answer is because it is the first planned city and ofcourse no one in India would have had the experience of planning a city! What does this teach you about parenting? Well, when it comes to important issues, decisions, choices in your parenting, go to the experts and do not rely on friends, relatives, or books and websites. Take an experts opinion who can weigh the situation with knowledge about your child and family.
The city has very wide roads with roundabouts at every intersection. This helps the traffic be organized and controlled. How is this related to parenting? Well, kids have an information highway in the brain, in their education years it’s all about learning, knowledge and memory and to do this effectively the brain requires strong neural connections, almost like strong roads. So how does one ensure that the neural connections of the brain are strong enough for knowledge and learning to flow in an organized manner? Simply allow children to question. Questioning broadens their thinking and helps them analyze, relate and use logic. Try not to trivialize your replies by giving flippant answers to their queries. ‘It rains because god is doing susu’, or ‘it thunders when the gods are fighting’, these kind of replies do not help their brain think or relate knowledge. You need strong neural connections that are built by helping kids think about their choices. Help them connect cause and effect. ‘If you sit there, you may fall, if you fall you will get hurt and it will pain, but if you sit here then you will be safe’, etc. Just like it makes sense for a city to plan for wide roads keeping in mind that traffic will grow in the years to come, similarly it makes sense to help kids reach their ZPD (zone of proximal development) which means stimulate their brains with facts, knowledge and play that is slightly above their thinking level, just slightly, not too easy and not too difficult. This will keep their neural pathways strong and their attention focused and interested.
The wide roads in Chandigarh are lined on both sides and in the middle with a strong green cover. Maybe to keep the city oxygenated and the pollution levels in control. Similarly your child requires some ‘green cover’, which means oxygen. Kids get oxygen from two sources, water and plants. So ensure that your kids are hydrated and ensure that you have some plants in the home and around your home. Give your child’s brain some ‘free time’ so that the brain is not always involved in learning and gathering knowledge. Play games, board games are the best as they help the family bond and the brain exercise without the burden of achievement. So keep the games light and friendly.
Chandigarh city is divided into sectors, easy for administration, for locating an address etc. divide your child’s day and life into different sectors so that the emphasis is not always on one part only and the child gets all round development. Education is important but then so is nutrition, exercise, health and hygiene. Understand which ‘sectors’ you want to divide your child’s growth into and then ensure that you are giving equal attention to all the ‘sectors’, each day, each week and every month.
The city has a collection of gardens, open spaces and even an artificial lake. You will see people walking through this green cover and the elderly are seen walking and exercising in these parks. Overall the city is quite clean and does not have the problem of rotting garbage or sewage problems. In your parenting ensure that your child gets enough exercise, sometimes when we are staying in congested cities it becomes difficult to give kids the required exercise, so then look for simple ways, walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator with your child. don’t use the remote for changing channels, do it manually with your child. and clean your child’s system often. Deworm your child and also ‘deworm’ his behavior. Find out positive ways of disciplining rather than threatening, hitting, shouting etc. remember your kids needs to be happy and healthy in mind, body and spirit.
Most importantly Chandigarh is the capital of two states, Punjab and Haryana, so one can imagine what it means to share the same assembly building the secretariat etc. this teaches us that a child and his overall responsibility is shared by both the parents equally and without conflict. Learn to coexist and correlate your parenting, for this you will have to discuss debate and agree to disagree for some issues but never in front of the child. Also ensure that your child does not become ‘a tug-o-war’ between you, especially if you are involved in a separation or divorce.
The rock garden is one of the most famous landmarks of Chandigarh. I was disappointed when I visited it as it was dirty, had a lot of litter, stale and stagnant water pools infested with flies and no one to show directions or even a signage of where to go or how to move around. So how did the rock garden reach this state? Well, tourists that don’t care and not enough maintenance. Now let’s relate this to parenting. There will be many ‘tourists’ in your child’s life, friends, neighbors, bullies who will ‘litter’ your child’s life with bad habits, bad words, bad deeds, well, if you keep up your ‘maintenance parenting’ then you will be able to clean up every time there is litter. Don’t allow the ‘litter’ to become stale or stagnant. Therefore, talk to kids often, relate to them, help them use logic in their decision making and help them choose right from wrong. Develop a conscience in your child. and this can be done only by giving your child a good, strong role model…YOU.
And the last thing to learn from Chandigarh city, from the ‘safeda’ trees (really don’t know the botanical name). these trees regularly shed their brown bark and become completely white and thus called ‘safeda’. Its relation to parenting? Well, change your parenting style as your kids grow older, young toddlers need understanding, and good role models as they learn through imitation. young kids need rules and repercussions clearly defined and young adolescents are most impressed with money and open channels of communication. So ensure that the ‘money’ comes from pocket money and try not to spy on them as they will only ‘close up’ and hide things from you.
Simple city facts related to simple aspects of parenting. Well, parenting is never easy but then it is not difficult too if one understands, relates and enjoys the journey. Happy parenting.