We keep reading in newspapers and social media sites about children running away from home. Such incidents are increasing by the day. It is scary as a parent to read about such incidents frequently. I wonder what goes into a mind of a child who chooses to leave the comfort and security of a home and make him vulnerable. At least in urban India, where parenting has evolved; parents have become more cautious and aware about the correct parenting methods for their children. Yet children run away from home due to fear of exams and being stressed about being a non performer.
Just a day back I received numerous messages about a girl missing from the school. Everyone thought she was kidnapped and people got active by forwarding messages on social media so that she could be found soon. But today I read in the newspaper that she had left home and was found on the station to board a train. So she chose to leave her home. What made her do so? What kind of pressure would a 14 year old be going through?
Nowadays I see children as old as seven or eight year discuss about their achievements with friends. When we were children of that age we were so carefree. It didn’t matter to us what grades we scored, or how many medals we won. We never discussed this at such a young age. So how has the scenario changed? My daughter loves it when I share about her achievements on social media. Yes, I am guilty of posting about every achievement of my child. And she wants to read the comments that my friends have posted. I used to believe that she feels motivated so I used to do it.
After reading the news today, I wondered; do my updates on social media put pressure on my child too once the expectations increases. My child is just a 7 year old. Right now she is enjoying all the attention but will it put undue pressure on her in the future. I would not want to create that situation for my child. You do feel proud as a parent when your child achieves something, and tend to share it with friends and family just to spread your happiness. But we are not sure if that would back fire someday. Are we unconsciously creating societal pressure on the child to perform? Or is it because I never had so many achievements at a young age, so I am reaching out for praise from the society?
This got me to look for answers on the internet and I read many articles on various websites. On one such site, I read an opinion that the main reason a child chooses to run away would be lack of problem solving skills. They live in constant fear of facing difficulties and challenges. And feel that running away is an immediate solution to deal with embarrassing situations.
I am not an expert to comment on child behaviour, but from what all I read; as a mother I will try and employ these measures to ensure my child feels nurtured at home and grows up to be a confident person who is ready to face challenges.
1. Praise your child: Praise your child whenever he deals with a difficult situation well. Reward him with kind words. It will boost his confidence.
2. Teach problem solving skills: Give situations to your child and ask, “How would you deal with this situation? Can you do it differently? In how many ways can you solve this problem?” Discuss the situations and appreciate their decisions. Give your opinion, compare your choices. Mainly you are teaching the child to solve a problem, plus it gives re assurance to your child that you are concerned about the problem the child is facing and providing the support by involving yourself in the discussion. However you are not imposing your decisions and giving him to the choice to make his own.
3. Create a loving atmosphere: Love solves all problems. Create an atmosphere of unconditional love in your home. Create an atmosphere, where the child is not scared of making mistakes. We all make mistakes, we made mistakes as children and we make mistakes as adults too. Let them know that. But also teach them how to face the situations we have created after making those mistakes and empower them to make decisions to rectify those mistakes. Let them know, even if you make mistakes, I am always going to love you unconditionally.
4. Talk to the child: Keep checking on your child, by talking to them regularly. When the child comes to you after you are back from work, and demands your attention immediately, lend them your ear. I know it can be sometimes difficult after a hard day at work but you need to listen to them. Talk to them about how’s it going in school, with their friends? I am a stay at home mom, yet sometimes I lose my patience when my daughter goes on and on non-stop about what happened at school. But I need to correct that, we need to listen. They need to know we are interested in what is happening with them. I will train myself to listen to her now onwards every time she has something to say to me.
5. Respond to threats: If your child anytime threatens to run away, let them know that they need to face the problems. Take responsibility. Running away is not going to solve the problem. It will only increase the problems for you. Let them know the importance of a secure environment and the love and care of family. Let them know that as a family we have few rules and each member needs to follow them.
6. Check your own behaviour: Mind well, your children are watching you. They observe you. So deal with the problems you face too consciously. Try and avoid discussing the work issues at home, try not to criticise your boss in the presence of your child, try not to lie. Most importantly, try not to succumb to difficult situations in front of the child. Handle the situation with responsibility and confidence so your child learns from you. Practice what you preach.
I hope this article helps. If you have anything to add, please put in your comments and I shall try and incorporate it in the article too. Thanks for reading. Please follow me if you liked reading my article.