Validation vs Coddling – Did you know the difference?

 

coddling

Your child is crying due to a conflict with kids in his school. What would you say?

Option 1 – Get over it! It happens to everyone; you don’t need to cry about it. (Denial)

Option 2 – Poor thing, you’ve had such a hard day at school. I will talk to your teacher about it. (Coddling)

Option 3 – It was a hard day for you. It is normal to feel this way. Tell me more about it. (Validation)

Which option seems best to you? Using option 1 was the most-used method by adults in the past. A child was expected to be small, insignificant and behave in a certain way. But joint families and strong social structure helped in well-rounded growth of kids despite lack of empathetic attitudes of some of our parents.

But times have changed since. Only mom and dad (or sometimes single parent) have stayed as solid family structures have collapsed around us. And option 2 popularly name as Coddling and option 3 or Validation have mostly stayed. In both cases, a child’s feelings are acknowledged. But option 2 indulges a child while option 3 makes him strong and confident.

Now Coddling and Validation seem very similar. There is just a thin line in between! Validation is a balanced approach while you go overboard with coddling. The trick is to identify the boundary.

spoilt boy

Parents who coddle offer to intervene on behalf of the kids, signalling thereby the child is incapable of handling his problems.

Coddling makes a child feel manipulative, helpless, victimized and entitled. The child feels controlled and babied.

Coddling parents indulge in helicopter parenting – a phrase coined for those who hover over their child’s every move in an effort to protect them from pain, disappointment, and failure. When kids are over-praised, they start feeling entitled and reduce their efforts to do something and be challenged.

And if kids are overprotected, they feel restricted, socially inferior and inadequate.

We all are guilty of doing this, aren’t we? The thing is keeping a child’s self-esteem intact while challenging them to rise and shine, is a hard task and it comes with practice.

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On the other hand, parents who validate empower the kid to make his own decision and find a way out of challenging situations in his life. Parents kind of mirror back his emotions and show their trust in his ability to deal with it.

Parents who validate do not overindulge or offer to make things right for their kid (unless it is some serious problem that requires intervention of adults). Also, they do not deny their kid’s feelings but show warmth and understanding. It is a kind of midway between denial and coddling.

Validation creates independence, emotional intelligence, better social skills and strengthens parent-kid bonding.

The book the ‘Power of Validation’ talks about it at great length.

The authors define validation as “the recognition and acceptance that your child has feelings and thoughts that are true and real to him regardless of logic or whether it makes sense to anyone else.”

Validating means acknowledging thoughts and feelings of your child without judging, ridiculing or abandoning them. It means listening and making him or her feel ‘heard’ – this conveys that you love and accept your kid unconditionally.

Hall and Cook, explain that validation is not the same as comforting, praising or encouraging your child. For instance, telling your child that they played great in their soccer game isn’t validating. What is validating is saying the truth, such as “It’s hard when you don’t play as well as you would like.”

“Validation is acknowledging the truth of your child’s internal experience, that it’s normal and okay to not always play your best, be the best player, or do all things perfectly or even well,” they write. So, just validating,  just listening, just understanding …works wonder.

Parenting is hard and identifying those fine psychological lines that can straighten or bend our kids is even harder. It is difficult to be understanding when we have so much going on in our lives. But then it is not impossible! And this balanced approach comes with commitment and practice. We owe that to our kids, don’t we? Happy parenting!

(Images courtesy Google)

 

 

A Child’s Note to Parents

Dear Parents,

Soon you would be having conference regarding my performance in school. As you listen, please remember that what my teacher might be describing may not be the complete truth. So, do not get uptight if you hear any blemish. I hope you will accept me as I am as long as I am trying.

Remember that all children do not walk or speak at the same age, nor do they learn math, reading or science at the same rate. Please do not compare me to my brothers, sisters, cousins or friends. I am unique to this world. Be realistic in setting my goals. Challenge me but do not push me beyond my abilities. Please let me be a child first before labelling me as a success or a failure.

The conference would be a picture of me at school. I am very different at home. In school, I have to deal with around 25-50 kids my age, I sometimes respond in a different manner. My teacher knows me at school, You know me at home. The real ‘Me’ is somewhere in between.

When these images blend with sufficient understanding, acceptance and love, I hope you’ll see a unique individual who can make you proud and bring happiness to our family.

Love you,

Your Kid

(We received this touching leaflet from my Son’s school before a conference. I could not help sharing. Do share this post, it is worth the effort. Because sometimes we adults are incapable of seeing a child’s point of view.)


Images courtesy Google

I am your parent!

In the US, kids are treated like little Gods! Every passers by will greet or nod at your child… some would come over and compliment your kid. They are petted, hugged and encouraged for even the smallest effort like murmuring a soft ‘Thank You’.

Teachers are kind, neighbours are sweet. Your kids are little Kings and Queens surrounded by doting courtiers. And then there is the dreaded emergency number 911, which stops you from dealing harshly with your child even though he or she has been very, very naughty.

I really appreciate it and am very happy when my kids get attention. But sometimes, I do not know how to handle so much sweetness at home. When kids’ behaviour start going out of hand, my Indian roots compel me to go sour.

Back in India, life includes bitterness too for kids. Parents scream, teachers yell and relatives chide while a kid is expected to take it all in a stride.

Grown ups have plan for your studies, career, marriage and a child listens it out respectfully. 

I have been through all this in my growing up days. My parents have done everything to stop me from taking bad decisions, I have fought back too, yelling – “It’s my life”!  But at this point of time, I am grateful to them for I got stopped from taking some crucial bad decisions… just in time.

I agree that parents do not know everything but they do know something based on their varied experiences of life and people. If parents remain diplomatically sweet, they are not doing their duty. To put your foot down, to even cross the line to make your kid see sense is not a bad thing. 


In India, some parents still use all the four upayas mentioned by the great Chanakya (philosopher, teacher, economist of ancient India) to get things done. 

1) Sama – Appealing to reason or sense

2) Dama – Offering or bribery

3) Danda – Punishment

4) Bheda – Diplomacy

While I do not agree with taking extreme measures and psychologically damaging a child to get things done, I do agree that a child needs a little bitterness for his own betterment. Just like a clay pot needs the right pressure to get moulded beautifully.

So, parents do not feel guilty if you have punished your kid for some wrong doing. If it is for their good then harsh words are thousand times better than sweet talk.

Images courtesy Google

5 Dirty Secrets of Mothers!

Yo mothers! I know all your dirty little secrets since I am a mother too. We lead a life that demands constant activity, sacrifice and 24×7 caregiving. Our everyday battles involve commotions, screams, tantrums and hullabaloo over silliest of things. 

So if we have some dirty secrets, we need to be excused! Shouldn’t we?

1) If the baby is sleeping near our closet, we often wear anything from unwashed nightgowns to hubby’s worn out t-shirt after bathing rather than taking the risk of waking the baby up.

2) We excel in eating messy leftovers of kids. This saves food and our energy. After all, eating is important for us not the style.

3) The rule is – never put your hand in a mother’s handbag! You may get revolted on touching used wipes, toffee wrappers and spilt juices on the inside. It is full if tidbits which is there just for satisfaction sake. 

4) Another rule is – watch when you borrow a mother’s phone! It may be battered, greasy or simply discoloured. It often is smeared with  cooking oil, baby food and spices. Most of the time, it becomes non functional and gets reduced to being the favourite toy of the baby.

5) We may have uncountable clothes in our closet but our complaints about ‘nothing to wear’ is justified! One quarter of our clothes are stained with baby poop, food or oil, other clothes are either too big or too small due to changes in our bodies within a span of few years. Some clothes are not ironed and others are simply not washed.


Mothers do many circus acts and perform shortcuts too to multitask. Often, a day seems too small to finish our chores. We need to be celebrated even if we look sloppy, unwashed with messy hair as long as we are bringing up a healthy family. Shouldn’t we!

So, three cheers for all of us! We may be chubby, messy, greasy and at times, overwhelmed and saucy but we are doing the noblest of noble jobs. Please accept our slovenliness for some time and applaud us!


Images courtesy Google

Failure, struggle and a tiny thought!

  [Dear Ma’m,

Thank you for your participation in our Writing Competition.

The overwhelming response to our contest resulted in thousands of entries from amateur and professional authors alike. We’ve spent an enormous number of hours reviewing all the entries, and narrowing those thousands to double digits has been no easy task. 

Unfortunately, we’re sorry to inform you that your entry is no longer being considered for a prize.

We sincerely hope you will ‘try again’!]

When you receive a letter like the above, you are gripped with an enormous sense of failure. All that months of brainstorming, effort, struggle and persistence ends up in a huge cipher. And then tormenting questions start spinning your head – Am I not good enough? Where do I lack? Perhaps, my works should be thrown in a garbage can? Should I quit writing? They no longer appreciate works like mine… Thoughts like these go on and on as you go about your daily chores. The letter crashes your expectation and self worth in a moment!

At first, the words ‘try again’ in the rejection letter sounds downright condescending. It seems organisers are patting the back of a dejected child, who is on the verge of tears. You think – “Have I not tried enough? I neglected sleep, appetite and everything that mattered to create something unique. And my work is mundane for them, my creativity has no acceptance.” You feel your struggle came to naught. You believe you are a loser for this is not the first time you have been rejected.

And then, from a tiny corner of your mind, emerges a beloved and luminous thought angel. “It wasn’t about winning, it was all about trying your best.” You remember hearing your child chant that sentence just a couple of days back. It is from his favourite story book. Everytime he comes across this line, he demands an explanation. And you like a doting mother, explain it to him.

This thought chastises and shakes you to sit upright. You no longer look grumpy and slumped. You think – “Why did I forget the meaning of the line when it became relevant in real life? Is it one thing to lecture a child and another thing to incorporate in real life?

You smile pleasantly as you repeat to yourself – “It wasn’t about winning, it was all about trying my best”. 

One happy thought defeats dejection. The thought of quitting no longer plagues your mind. You know, you cannot let down your creativity. Winning or no winning, appreciation or no appreciation, applause or no applause… you will try to create like the everflowing murmuring  ‘Brook’ ( Alfred Lord Tennyson). “Men may come and men may go but I go on forever”. Victory is transient, creativity is not!

You once again gear up to take up another challenge… just for the heck of it. Who thinks about failure as long as you are creating! Indeed, life is not about winning, it is all about trying your best! The rejection letter is forgotten.

The strange dream house!

“The A&B Building was made entirely from driftwood.” My grandmother informed me, pulling me closer. “And it would crop out of nowhere overnight at any secluded area and lure innocent victims inside,” she informed. She warned me never to venture inside such buildings as strange things happened there.

I believed her every word but forgot the warning. I earnestly wished to enter that driftwood house so that I could see those ‘strange things’.

One day, as I was playing along the beach near my home, I saw the driftwood building materialise near the shore. My parents were talking so I just slipped away. I entered the inviting house.  And was I delighted? It was every child’s dream house. I played on and on and ate and ate….

After a while, when I missed home.  I looked for an exit and walked out of the house. To my horror, the world had changed and I had grown very old!

This story is a part of the wonderful ‘Mondays Finish The Story Challenge’ by Barbara Beacham. She provides us with a photo prompt, the first sentence, and approximately 150 words with which we are to use to write our story. To take up the challenge click hereMFtS

When My Fears Came To Life

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I cannot avoid thinking of ghosts whenever my husband goes on work trips. It is crazy but my imagination works overtime to create ghosts in the closet, in the washing machine, in the playroom and most of all, in the creepy bathroom.

Yes, the feeling is not funny. The first day of my husband’s absence is worst. I don’t look at myself in the mirror at night because I think my reflection smiles crookedly at me. I avoid looking at my shadow out of the fear that it would act in a wayward manner.  I barely look at my painting of a girl whose smile otherwise benevolent decidedly turns sinister when I am alone. I keep my kids awake for as long as I could and when they fall asleep, I try to hold them closely causing them discomfort. Soon, they roll over away from ‘poor and scared’ me.

Soon, illusions totally take over my common sense. I see shadows lurking in the closet just ready to grab me. The sound of the dishwasher sounds ghastly to my ears and the distant sound of a vehicle approaching is eerie. And the worst of all is the fact that our Smart TV is so dumb that it switches on out of the blue…sometimes at the middle of the night, sending shivers down my spine. I chant mantras and the all-powerful ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ to find strength and peace from my imagination.

At times, I lie down sleepless in bed and think of the tenants before us. Had they died in this very apartment? Were they into voodoo and witchcraft? And then I would sleep fitfully and wake up scared and again go back to sleep, dreaming of the imaginary dead tenants. All this is laughable in broad daylight but they feel very real at those long scary nights.

When the clock strikes 4am, I find my peace and sleep like a baby with my kids. It is considered that 4 am is ‘Bramha Muhurat’ or the Godly hour. No ghost dares to disturb me and I feel so safe.

But this time, when my husband left, one of my fears almost came to life. It was late in the evening. All was dark and quiet. I was in the bathroom trying to avoid my reflection, when I heard my older one talking to someone in the living room. I also heard someone replying to him. The baby was asleep and there was no one around. My apartment was locked from inside. But he was distinctively having a conversation.

The answering voice sounded distorted and strange. Fear paralysed me and I felt as if I would faint any minute. I couldn’t call for help as my phone was in the living room. I thought all the horrors in my mind were coming to life. But I had to rescue my child from the spirit that was possessing him.

I mustered courage to move towards the living room. It was a rainy evening, the setting was perfect for a horror film. I could hear him clearly now, he was saying, “It is a dark, rainy evening”. The voice mimicked him, “It is a dark, rainy evening”. He laughed, the voice laughed. I almost cried.

I walked closer towards his room…the other voice sounded familiar. But since my logic had deserted me, I failed to recognise it. After a heroic effort on my part, I peeped into the room. And what a sight it was! I found him talking to the Talking Tom app on the iPad. I felt stupid but relief flooded over me.

He sensed my fear. He said, “Talk to Tom, Mumma. You will feel not be scared.” I said bravely, “Mumma is a strong girl, She is not scared”. And then, I looked at Talking Tom. I can tell you for sure that his grin looked very very evil.

But thankfully, my fears remained restricted to my over ripe imagination!