By Daniel Curry 

Parenting is a tough job! So much of it is on-the-job training. As soon as you feel like you have a handle on things, children move on to another stage of growth and development and the rules change. As a parent of two children, I can affirm that the way I parented the older child had to be adjusted for the second child. Often, we parent just as we were parented. But how can we ensure we are mindful of our approach to parenting so we can ensure optimal development?

We can start by asking ourselves what we want to see in our children. Beyond academic success, we want them to be successful in life. What are the qualities that will empower them for a lifetime? More and more, the best schools in Gurgaon are focusing on just those questions and adjusting their pedagogy to match. Problem-based learning, project-based learning, inquiry learning, and other progressive approaches seek to develop the whole child in this way.

What we want for our children is good character; we want to see empathy, kindness, and excellence. We want them to think critically and solve problems on their own in new and creative ways. They should know themselves and be confident in their abilities and their vision for the future.

Ask instead of telling

In order to foster these attributes, as schools and parents, we need to be mindful of how we interact with children. As much as possible, ask instead of tell. Ask what they think they should do in situations. Guide them in their answers with information and logic, so they begin to think in those terms. This creates their ownership of finding answers. They learn to try and figure things out rather than just getting a quick answer from the parent. They also get guidance on how you approach solving a problem when you ask them for intermediate steps or ask them what other information they need to have, and then help them in how they can get the needed information. Questions like ‘How do you think you would solve this?’ can lead to a greater understanding of their thinking process that you can hone and refine.

Value their thoughts

Ask open-ended questions about their interests and opinions. Let them begin early to be reflective and introspective. If you value their thoughts, they will also learn to value their own voice. Let their creative minds take you to wonderful places, even if it is silly or illogical. Don’t limit their imaginations with negative comments. For example, if you were to ask what they want to do when they grow up, you’ll get any number of fanciful or real answers. Continue to ask why they think that and what about that job is appealing to them. Dig to the root of their response and you will find a core value or belief that you can encourage and build up, regardless of the particular job they identified. Those choices will change constantly – but if you’ve tied the reason to a core value (I want to help people), you can reinforce that value.

Ask questions to get them talking and thinking

Wherever you are, you can ask questions. Get them talking and thinking. Have fun – laugh and be silly. Humor is a sign of intelligence and helps the brain make neural connections across disparate areas. Always encourage. Show that you value them and that they are important for both who they are and what they think.

This takes time and energy (and patience!). It is much easier to bark orders to children and demand mindless obedience. It is harder to take the time to explain things, ask them questions, and help them see the reasoning behind what you value. You’ll be glad you did!

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