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Recently, I was speaking to a single mom about how her 2-year-old recently asked about her father, because another child kept asking her where her 'daddy' was. My friend said that she spoke to her daughter and made her understand how some families are different. She said that she wished other parents too would discuss this with their children, sensitise them towards children who come from different kind of families or who are different. I was moved by this thought. While most parents go out of their way to teach their all sorts of things, including manners, how many of us actually try to raise sensitive children? Honestly, I never thought about it until that day, and that discussion set in motion a few other discussions I had with a few other moms about raising sensitive kids. And we moms came up with a few ideas on how to raise sensitive children.
Sensitivity towards differently-abled children
If your child sees a differently-abled child and questions you, it is your opportunity to educate your child about their difference and also to sensitise your child towards it. You will tell your child to try and assist the differently-abled child, also to let them go first, but will you tell your child that differently-abled people are just like us, albeit with a handicap. Will you encourage your child to make friends with differently-abled people? This is how you will make your child sensitive towards differently-abled children.
Sensitivity towards children with single parents
Like my friend suggested, we need to speak to our children about different families. We know that a lot of people get divorced and there are many single parents around us. Isn't it our responsibility to make them feel more accepted? How many of us speak to our children that some children have one parent, or no parents, or are adopted? We share sentimental messages on social media, but this, educating our children, is the way we can actually bring about a positive change.
Sensitivity towards slow-learners
For every parent, their child is a tiny genius. We do not fail to praise and encourage our child when they achieve the smallest success. No harm in that. But what about children who are slow learners, or who develop differently. There are children who do not learn the Alphabets by the time they turn 3. What does your child do? Full marks to you if your child will make time to help a slow learner, but if she is someone who will bully and label the child, then you need to do some work.
Sensitivity towards children with behavioural issues
Children start feeling big feelings before they learn to handle them. Hence the term 'toddler tantrums'. Well, the tantrums, or anger, is not strictly for toddlers. Older children can often have angry outbursts, without understanding how to manage it. Most of the times, these kids are made fun of, called names and teased, which only aggravates the problem. We, as parents, do not make it easy either, for the 'troubled' (not trouble) child or our own children. The best suggestions we give our child about handling such a situation is to avoid the child. And what do children do, they either trouble that kid or make fun of her behind her back. High time we spoke to our children and taught them how to be gentle, supportive and tolerant. What we teach our children today will shape the world for them when they grow up.
Note to parents
We all know how it is with children. They see, they do. You set an example, positive or otherwise and your children will follow your lead. So if you want your child to be sensitive, needless to say, you need to be sensitive yourself. Next time you want to call names to a neighbour or someone who overtook you on the road, mind the choice of your words. When you see someone using crutches, offer help. Include stories about different families in your bedtime routine. Reward your child's sensitive acts and appreciate when they offer help and are considerate.
It takes a sensitive parent to raise a sensitive child.
Read this in Hindi.
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