“Children react and respond to their environment, just like anyone else. If it's positive and functional, they're more likely to mimic that household tone.”
Toronto-based Dr. Natasha Sharma is a Therapist, TEDx Speaker, and TV/Media Personality. She is also the author of The Kindness Journal, a guided, interactive daily journal that is one of the most powerful ways to cultivate a more positive outlook and happier life. Dr. Sharma took time out of her busy schedule to speak into the lives of parents through her guest interview with us.
How long have you been in the profession?
I have been practicing professionally in the field of Psychology and Emotional Wellness since about 2010. If I am being honest though I've probably been "practicing" my whole life. I'm a very emotionally expressive person and always have been, and because of this have always had a keen interest in people and why we do what we do. I've always had a knack for reading people to a certain extent, and I tended to utilize that ability to do "good" (i.e. help others, lending an ear to difficulties, etc.). People and living life fascinate me constantly!
What do you see as the common problems parents face today?
I see one of the most prevalent problems in parenting today to be too much "overthinking" on the part of parents. We have come a long way in the world - from the days when children were "seen and never heard." We have realized many of the errors of our ways in the way we used to raise and discipline children. However, we have swung the pendulum the other way in some respect. In the valiant effort to correct the mistakes of the past, and be the warm, caring, and emotionally intelligent parents that previous generations didn't commonly experience, we may have become overly permissive.
In addition, I believe parents today generally have less confidence in themselves and their parenting ability, which can also create a more anxious undertone to one's parenting style. We are having children later in life and with far more conscious intention than ever before - and this is a good thing! So parenting with conscious intention is great, but easing up on expectations of self-perfection would also be very good.
Lastly, I believe the general decrease in confidence in the parenting world has also led parents to become more judgemental of other parents than in previous generations - the judgement and flinging out of unsolicited comments/advice to other parents, at times lacking in empathy and even common sense, really just serves to mask their own hidden insecurities in themselves as parents.
Our children’s behavior connected to their parent's relationship or is that a generalist statement?
The relationship between caregivers is a child's first template of a "romantic" relationship - but also of a peer relationship or friendship. It is their first template for relationships with others. In addition, attachment theory and our biological and psychological evolution and development points to major advantages - both practical and mental - to children when parents/caregivers have healthy relationships as opposed to unhealthy ones.
Healthy caregiver relationships mean better chances of a thriving child - going back far enough, a child's survival depended on the quality of the relationships of their caregivers. Thus, we are certainly wired to some degree to care deeply about it even today. Yes - a child's behavior is most definitely connected. Children react and respond to their environment, just like anyone else. If it's positive and functional, they're more likely to mimic that household tone. If it's toxic and negative, they're more likely to mimic that one. Children also have many additional needs that adults don't, such as a sense of safety/security and approval.
What do you think about kids and social media?
This could be a very long answer indeed! In short, I think social media is a tool and a privileged one at that. And as it's a privileged tool, kids should NOT feel "entitled" to it (to use/have it). Social media can be a wonderful way to keep in touch and share experiences with friends. But it cannot replace the value and connection that comes from face to face contact: from physically hugging someone and speaking with them in person.
Social media has highly addictive properties, and research has clearly shown that teenagers and young adults (even children as young as 12!) demonstrate strong characteristics of dependency on social media. Moreover, kids and teens tend not to possess the cognitive or emotional intelligence yet to fully understand - and therefore consent from an informed position - to everything they are actually engaging in on social media. So I think it's something that is best used sparingly before the age of 18 years old, if used at all prior to then, to be perfectly frank.
If you could give parents a single mantra to live by, what would it be?
Be yourself and accept yourself. Always. Your kids don't care what account you lost that day, how much you weigh, how much money you make, where you went to school, how many friends you have, whether you were divorced once - or three times. All they care about is YOU. Exactly as you are - faults and all. They just want to spend time with you. And above all, they want your approval and appreciation of them. Give them YOU.
Reach out to Dr. Sharma on Social Media:
Founder NKS Therapy
Author of The Kindness Journal
TEDx Speaker - My Talk Here