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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quit spanking kids in public

According to a study, parents tend to get physical while reprimanding their children in a social setting. Experts explain why doing so, can do the children more harm

Lisa Antao 

    It's not an uncommon sight to spot parents embarrassed of their child's naughty behaviour in public. In some cases, parents are oblivious to their child's bad behaviour and as a result, don't correct them and in turn encourage them. However, in many cases one gets to see that parents are overly strict with their child in public. For example, when eating at a restaurant or while visiting a relative/friend's place, if the child engages in some mischief, parents tend to discipline him/her in a very harsh manner — by either scolding the child in front of everyone or, worse, by spanking him/her. Research too, supports this fact. 
    According to a study, parents get physical while misbehaving with their kids. The findings of the study shows that 23 per cent of 
children received some form of "negative touch" when they failed to fufill parental request in public places like restaurants and parks. This negative touch includes pinching, pulling, spanking and slapping, too. BT sought an analysis from experts as to what makes parents so strict with their kids in public and how the behaviour can affect the children in turn. 
When children go out of house or are in a public setting, they tend to get insecure and do certain activities or behave in a way which gives them more pleasure or a sense of security. For example, thumbsucking or cuddling to the parents. The child behaves nicely at home but at an insecure place he/she shows signs of social distress that make the parents panicky and they fail to stop the kid from being errant, explains consultant psychiatrist Dr Dhananjay Gambhire. 

    Clinical psychologist and trauma expert Seema Hingorrany agrees with the study. "Parents are more strict with their children in public, as their parenting skills are in question. Also, they feel their child's behaviour in public, speaks volumes about his/her upbringing. Some parents are frequently frustrated themselves and are trying to live their own dreams through their child. In such cases social pressures are very 
high," she says. 

Hingorrany often sees this amongst urban well-to-do families vis-a-vis lower strata families. That's because the former ones are more uptight when it comes to their social image. Also, it is commonly seen that in such families, people generally discuss and dissect each other's children's behaviour in public. For example, "Oh look, this child still cannot eat with a knife and fork. What have the parents taught him/her?" The 
public is too 
a n d 
stantly waiting to catch the parental flaw, which is not as common in middle-class families as they are too busy making their ends meet. For them, a social gathering or visit to a park is not a priority. 
    Agrees Dr Gambhire. He recounts the case of a patient: "A four-year-old girl was brought to me for passing urine all the time whenever she went out with her parents and the mother was very irritable. However, when the father went alone with the daughter she didn't face any problems. Later, we counselled the mother to respond to the daughter's nature's call in a positive manner and the problem was resolved in a span of three months." 
Parents should be cautious while disciplining their kids in public and not pressurise them so much. Dr Gambhire warns that this has a 
    very negative impact on 
    children's psychological 
    health. It leads to anger, 
    frustration and withdrawal from social 
    situations, which 
    further lead to iso
lating behaviour and selfstimulation like thumb sucking to avoid nonacceptance by 


• Do not set very stiff and unachievable targets for them. Help them set achieveable goals so they can achieve it. 

• Never reprimand the child in public for his behaviour as the child's self-esteem completely gets eroded. 

• Teach the dos and don'ts of public behaviour slowly and gradually as a learning process, not as a strict rule they have to comply to. 

• Give them proper explanation to their questions as to why they need to have a certain decorum in public and different behaviour at home. 

• Be a good role model yourself. Children are a reflection of their parents and usually behave the way their parents do. 
    — Seema Hingorrany, 
    clinical psychologist and trauma expert

CAUTION: Never reprimand the child in public for his behaviour as the kid's self-esteem gets eroded completely

IT'S TRUE: Well-to-do families are more uptight when it comes to their social image


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