A Parenting Educator
A Fitness Enthusiast
A Logophile (deduced from personal experience)
Let’s give it up for
Dr. Meghna Singhal
I am a clinical psychologist and a parenting educator.
In simple words, I teach parents how best to parent. Wait, isn’t that a bit presumptuous? I mean, who am I to tell parents how to raise their children—isn’t parenting instinctive? Well, I wish all of parenting was. I wish we could all simply ‘know’ what’s correct for our children, and how our actions today will impact them tomorrow. But the bitter truth is that we don’t. We don’t always know, we can’t always know. Its true that we have raised children as long as human have been around. But we haven’t known everything about what’s appropriate for children. A few decades ago, it was considered acceptable to spank children. But today we know that physical punishment has an adverse emotional impact on children.
And why not take advantage of the 30 years of research on parenting we have? Like we don’t drive the car people drove 30 years back, and we don’t use the same medical procedures we used 30 years back, so why should parenting be any different?A lot of parents say, “But you know I was spanked, and I turned out fine.” To this I respond I asking back, “Did you really?” (Of course, this means I don’t get that many dinner invites). Yes, parents have always raised children but that doesn’t mean we have always done a fabulous job. You can look around you and see that adults are not always happy. We are prone to anxiety, depression, and a whole lot of mental health issues—we aren’t exactly the paragons of mental health! We are trying hard, yes, and a lot of us have healing to do from our childhoods to become happier and better people. So, isn’t it better to raise children who don’t have to do this healing? Who grow up being better versions of ourselves? I’m sure every parent aspires that for their child!
So, well, as you can figure out, I’m very passionate about what I do! I have been in my field for 20 years now and I love it! I have *wait for it* 3 masters degrees (yes, don’t ask!) and a PhD in clinical psychology. And if that wasn’t enough, I went ahead and did a post-doc too.
Of course, being a shrink comes with its own moments. Like when my friends thought that the guy I was dating (my now husband) was my MPhil case study! Or the time when a delivery guy hung up on me because I told him I lived in a mental hospital (I was pursuing my MPhil and put up in the girls’ hostel in IHBAS, aka ‘mental hospital’ in local parlance). Or when, because I walked in late, one of my teachers mistook me for a patient and started to ask questions for my mental status examination!
I am currently with ParentCircle, this parenting organization that brings together parents, educators, and experts to raise healthy, happy, and successful kids. What I love about my job is the several hats I get to don- I write parenting articles, facilitate parenting workshops, interact with a lot of parents, conduct live sessions, and interview some of the best parenting experts, authors, and speakers the world over! (See some of the experts I’ve interviewed here, here, and here, and watch some of my live sessions here, here, and here.)
All of this with raising two kids and running a house. I also love baking and am a big fitness enthusiast. And how I manage to pack all of this in 24 hours—its simple planning and time management. I guess I’ve always loved a challenge and right now one of my biggest challenges is managing all the hundred things I do, without compromising on the quality. My super cool hubby, my mum, and my kids (who always lend their enthusiasm for any project I take up) are my strength and pillars of support. With them around, I feel anything is possible!
“If you’re a parent, I’d like to share with you some of the most precious lessons in parenting I’ve learned over the years:
Frustrated with your child’s behaviour? Seething with anger? Pause and breathe. You cannot possibly discipline your child when you’re angry or upset. I know it takes all of one’s self-control to do so, but calm down before you even attempt to say or do anything. It’s called emotional regulation (i.e., you’re learning how to manage or regulate your own emotions). It’s the single most powerful tool in your parenting toolkit. If you learn to manage your emotions, you can deliver any message or lesson to your child effectively. Added bonus: your child will learn how to manage his own emotions.
Here’s how I do it: When I find myself getting upset at my child’s behaviour, I go stand in the middle of the drawing room and say, “I am so frustrated right now, I think I’ll splash water on my face”, and then I proceed to do exactly that. After I have calmed down, I softly, politely, calmly say to my child whatever it is I want to communicate to her. Now, my kids have started to do this too!
How connected are you to your child? Are you your child’s safe person? Do you make time to connect with your child? We sometimes approach connecting our with child as a duty. But it’s a good idea to take out time to connect with your child. Our children need to know we take joy in them or they don’t see themselves as worth loving. That deep connection is what makes everything possible, including their cooperation. So make time everyday to consciously refocus on your child and shower them with your love.
Here’s how I do it: Everyday, for 10-20 minutes, with each child individually, I do what we call ‘special time’. We do exactly what my child wants in that time—I resist the urge to teach or structure the time with activities. I roughhouse him to help him giggle out his anxieties. I do what he wants me to do, without looking at my screen, running to finish the chores, or taking loo breaks.
Itching to launch into a lecture? Well, all your child hears is “blah, blah, blah….” When we give unsolicited advice (no matter how well-intentioned) or instruct our kids, they only hear the judgment. Connect before you correct. This means you take time to first reach to your child with empathy (where you truly attempt to understand what it must be like to be in their shoes) and then when your child feels understood, you can proceed to communicate and engage with your child.
Here’s how I do it: Say, my child is throwing sand around while playing in the playground. Instead of lecturing and scolding, here’s what I say, “You’re really having fun throwing that sand, aren’t you? [empathizing] I see you’re in a throwing mood. What can you find that’s safe to throw? Would you like to throw leaves or flowers [offering a choice]?”
People can get in touch with me on my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also our FB page https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=parentcircle.com