Parenting: Why these two words work like a charm with kids

Push back your fatigue for a while, give them an earnest ear and say the two magical words: I understand

By Asha Iyer Kumar

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Published: Thu 21 Sep 2023, 7:44 PM

Last updated: Mon 23 Oct 2023, 8:43 AM

Dear Parents, whenever I think of you, I conjure up the picture of a box of miscellaneous savouries – each with your own distinct flavour, made with different ingredients to suit different palates. In your varied nature, I see a pattern of uniqueness which you often miss to see in yourself, thanks to the intransigence of life.

Modern life enjoins you to take care of more than you can tackle in a day with responsibilities that range from being a parent to a provider. A thousand and one tasks that scatter your brain and inadvertently put you on short fuse. The duress that life places on you slowly makes it hard for you to be the partner you want to be and the ideal parent you aim to be.

A demanding day at work, ceaseless chores in the house and a host of other unspecified bothers build up a strain that impacts the way you respond to your young ones when they cosy up to you for a moment of sharing and caring. The last thing you may want then is a fuss, whine or tantrum and the only way you know to deal with it is by parrying it off with a casual response, or on bad hair days, with a grouchy reply. It is a tipping point for the youngster. Here she came, seeking solace or an advice, eager to share a grave issue or a trivial anecdote, and you gave her a response that disappointed her and made her conclude you didn’t care. This is where the chinks begin to appear.

Your child’s (teenager’s) world is often chimerical. They live in their heads, spinning stories and scenarios that are conceived by their everyday social experiences. They seek endorsement to their juvenile concepts; they need you to look at their world through their eyes and recognise their views and concerns, and no matter how bushed you are in the day and can’t have an immediate conversation to dispel their worries, push back your fatigue for a while, give them an earnest ear and say the two magical words: I understand.

Even as adults, what we all expect from others is understanding; it is more so for our children. They constantly seek acknowledgement sans criticism and if there is one thing you cannot deprive them of in their tumultuous journey towards adulthood, it is your ‘understanding’. You may or may not have a quick fix to their problems or may disapprove with several things, but don’t desist from letting them know that you know what it means to be in their shoes.

There is a time for censure and there is a time for appreciation. As parents, it is necessary to be aware of what emotional cue our children need at what point in time, and they all need to be done on the basic premise of ‘I understand’. The mere utterance of those words will transform your children and win their trust and affinity almost instantly. It empowers them to know that they are not alone in their everyday trials and triumphs, and it fills them with conviction and confidence, and an ensuing conversation will always deliver the desired results.

The solution to some of the biggest problems in life lies in small things and it is when we forget these modest bits that we often get waylaid. We can crib about the pressures of our adult lives till the cows come home, but it doesn’t justify giving our children’s emotional needs short shrift. A bridge can be built only if the piers are strong and saying ‘I understand’ is its foundation stone.

Happy Parenting!

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