False Sense of Urgency and Service Providers for Children

I have written about a small accident that one of our twin daughters had and what it taught us. Along with our learning, what has also remained with me is the behaviour of the paediatric surgeon whom we met first and the false sense of urgency she created.

False Sense of Urgency

The paediatric surgeon described the condition of our daughter in a medical language that both the doctors, whom we spoke to later, did not agree. She told us that there are only two options for our daughter’s treatment. Out of these two options, one did not even exist for a child of our daughter’s age, as per the later discussions with other doctors.

The above divergence can be attributed to the subjective difference of opinion among doctors, maybe. However, what stood out is the urgency with which the paediatric surgeon wanted us to act. It almost seemed like our daughter would be in dire trouble if we do not agree on the medical procedure to be performed on her. The paediatric surgeon spoke so confidently to us that we thought there cannot be any other way out other than what she is saying.

As time passed by we realized that, whatever she told us, as a super-specialist of paediatric surgery, turned out to be false. Our daughter healed without any medical procedures, which according to her was not an option at all.

Why did she create a false sense of urgency for us, as parents? Why did she want us to act immediately? How and what gave her the confidence to hard-sell a treatment which was not required / non-existent?

More of the Same False Sense of Urgency

As I think more about this, I realize that this is not a stand-alone situation. It exists with most of the service providers for children. Seemingly, the parents are the most gullible lot.

We see so many schools that promise so many things for children and they do it so confidently. The parents think that if they do not opt for it, they are going to miss out on a golden opportunity for their children. The same is applicable for coaching classes, summer camps, training classes. You name it and I do not think the narrative will be any different from the paediatric surgeon, I mentioned above.

The context will of course change, but the content of the discussion will remain the same. We are best suited for your children. There is no other option. You have to act now. And the confidence with which it will be told to the parents.

Why this sense of urgency gets created for parents by these service providers? It happens so fast and with so much of high frequency that parents hardly gets any time to ponder over what they are being told and what they are getting into. It is almost like decisions are taken on an auto-mode. Rather the service-providers themselves decide on the behalf of the parents.

There is no mention at all of any of the options that could exist beyond what the service-providers tell us. I suppose, bringing up other alternatives would be met with utter disdain. They are the subject experts, and how could we, as parents, question them and their ways and means? Do we want our children to do well or not? If yes, fall in line with what they say.

Summing Up

I think we were lucky that we spoke to Dr. Adithi, who told us not to panic and that we could afford to wait. The other paediatric surgeon told us that letting it be is a decision in itself and also a worthwhile option. Nature heals best.

I wonder if we could come across more such service providers for children who could give their inputs with the child as a primary beneficiary and not their own business interests.

I hope that we, as parents, do not fall in this trap of false sense of urgency created by the service providers, for their self-serving benefits.

What are your views on this subject?

How A Child Learns Fear From Parents And Society

I believe that a child is inherently unaware of fear. Why / what should a child fear? The child has caring and comforting parents. As the child grows up, innately, s/he knows how to take care of one’s own self and seek refuge with parents, when necessary.

So, how is it that the child learns to fear? When is it that the child loses the intrinsic capability to take a risk? Where is it that the child learns to be afraid? How a child ceases to be fearless?

I, as a parent, do not trust the child’s instincts

I have seen often enough that my daughters know what they are capable of. They have their own sense of what they can climb, how far they can jump, what speed they can run and so forth.

It is not necessary that they will be 100% right in their predictions about themselves. At times, they need prodding and pushing. If they err at all, they err on the defensive side and not at a level where they end up hurting themselves needlessly.

At an overall level, they will do what they are comfortable doing. And, if they really want to do something even though they are not comfortable, they will actually get comfortable with it, simply because they want to do it.

Just that, as a parent, I am uncomfortable with the whole idea that a child can actually take care of one’s own self. So, what do I do? I instil fear.

I am learning to trust my daughters to take care of themselves for what they are capable of.

The focus is on falling down and not on getting up

One of my twin daughters has fallen down and is crying. What is my reaction? I rush, pick up the child and tell her to be careful.

What I do not do is tell my daughter that it was fun to fall down. I do not tell her that it was great to try out the jump/climb/run/whatever she was up to and falling down is a part of it. More importantly, I do not tell her that what is most significant is getting up after falling down. When my priorities are misplaced, what is my daughter going to learn? Fear.

I am consciously telling myself not to rush when I see my daughter falling down. She is learning to get up on her own.

When imaginary fear is a primary tool to discipline a child

The child is not going to imagine a monster below the bed on his / her own. It is just not possible. Someone, for whatever reason, has put it in the child’s mind that there is a monster.

Let’s face it. Why has the child been told about the monster or the police uncle who will punish/take away the child? Invariably, it is an easy ploy to bring order with a child who wants to have his / her way. What does it teach the child? Fear.

We have not done this with our daughters ourselves, but have seen numerous instances wherein they get spoken to about this by someone in the family, and at times, even by strangers.

Fear from Nature

I have seen it from the experience with my own daughters that they are not afraid of darkness. Why should they be? They walk into a room with no lights and are perfectly fine with it.

They were afraid of lightning and thunder. We explained to them that it is fun to watch the lightning and hear thunder, and they invariably bring rain, their favourite, they more than welcome it.

We have a huge peepal tree next to our house. The leaves make rustling sound in the night, bats fly around and our daughters are fine with all these. Rather, they stretch their eyes in the night to find a non-existent owl in the tree.

The girls have touched snake skin (they would have touched a live snake but for my own fear). They have pet cockroaches and earth-worms. They run behind lizards and chameleons calling them cute.

All these are natural and nature herself. If this is not properly explained, what will children learn? Fear.

Medicines and injections are of course not natural, but they are a necessary part of a child’s growing up. Both the girls actually look forward to both these, as they get explained in advance, that too without rewards and bribes. Surely, no fear.

The society does not trust the parent’s instincts

O +ve and B +ve are our daughters. As a parent, we know what they are capable of and even if they are not capable of, it is fine with us. So what, if they fall? So what, if they cry? Even if they bleed? We are learning to trust their instincts.

Not just in the park / any external environment, even in our own home; we are fine with what our daughters are doing; but they will be told by family members, friends and even strangers not to indulge in what they are doing. I tell them that it is fine what the girls are doing, but to no avail.

What is the resultant output with children? Fear.

Summing Up

As I write this, both the girls are climbing on to the sofa. They are going to jump together. What should I do?

I tell myself, I want my children to be fearless the way they have always been, I will not tell them the two words – “BE CAREFUL”.