How Important Is Parental Involvement?
With online classes and hobby programs ruling the roost, is parental involvement still a necessity for a child? We delve into the reality of it…
Reyansh (name changed) cannot sit still. He is four and a half years old and does not like his online classes. He has a challenge of concentrating for more than ten minutes. Social interaction via the online medium does not seem to interest him. Is something wrong with him? It could be a simple question that would pop up in anyone’s mind.
In the background, one can hear three sets of separate voices prompting the child to concentrate and look at the screen. He is completely disinterested. He looks tired too. I had to disconnect the call and tell the parents that I would try and restructure the session.
For the Gupta family, bringing up their boy of the same age is also a challenge. But they don’t seem to need anything extra to plan his day. They don’t need to engage him and prompt him to concentrate. Priyanka Gupta (name changed), a homemaker and German teacher shares, “Nakul keeps me busy throughout the day. With him, I flow with things. I don’t need anything extra to occupy him. He devises his own games, and I play along. When his father comes, they have their own world and time.”
As the pandemic redefines working culture, it is also redefining parenting.
“But parent involvement is very integral to the overall growth of a child. While some children are more gifted to improvise and keep themselves busy; it is still no substitute for parental guidance,” shares Dr Pooja Shivam Jaitley, a clinical psychologist who is actively working for the betterment of children and their mental health.
There is a growing trend amongst parents to engage their children in one of the activity. Does that substitute the time a parent should be spending with a child in his or her growing years? “There is no substitute for the parent. If that were the case, then children would not need a home. Parents essentially create a framework for a child’s wholesome growth. Peer interaction and learning while exploring along with each other help creates bonds and self-confidence. Children who experience parental participation and peer interactions regularly, grow up to more secure and confident youth,” adds Jaitley.
Amita Vikram Pratap is a working mother. “I took a sabbatical when my daughter was born. I had to choose to do that because my husband’s profession keeps him away from home for almost half the year. Also, I didn’t want to miss her growing years.” This is a sentiment many women share. Amita has now gone back to work. She runs her own business from home, but her daughter has had one parent around in her growing years. The father is as involved when he is back home from work. Between them, they ensure they take care of her curiosity, reading stories, communicating and engaging the child as they grow along in their professions.
But the Prataps avoid over-involvement of online activities. The various application-based entertainment and educational modules are an (easy) substitute for parental guidance for the time being. Now, parents want to limit screen time too.
Experts suggest that it is important to differentiate between stimulating screen time to communicative screen time. What children are using now for school-based work is not as harmful as dead absorption in front of ipads, televisions, phones, etc. “Even then, parents have to get involved. More than anything, this is important to give a child a sense of belonging, even if he or she is being looked after in virtual classrooms,” suggests the experts.