Parents contributing to children’s wellbeing will help in the long-term

Oman Saturday 06/November/2021 20:43 PM
By: Gautam Viswanathan
Parents contributing to children’s wellbeing will help in the long-term

Doctors and exercise specialists in Oman have asked parents to take a more active role in their child’s physical and mental wellbeing. While taking into consideration the importance of teaching them discipline and encouraging a positive attitude, they also say that the feelings of the child must be taken on board as well, particularly because of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their lives.

The arrival of the coronavirus disrupted their daily activities, forcing them to stay indoors and avoid physical interactions with others, while also taking a toll on their mental conditioning.

Dr Nauman Ahmad, a faculty member at the Centre for Preparatory Studies (CPS) at Sultan Qaboos University, says that with parents being one of the main stakeholders in a child’s learning, their contribution is directly connected with improved abilities in their offspring.

“Our parenting style openly impacts the overall performance of our child because the way of communication impacts the wisdom of our offspring, and turns into lifelong learning,” he explained. “Therefore, it is essential to make sure that our parenting style is contributing towards strong development and continuous improvement of our child.

“There are four well-known parenting styles, including: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved,” explained Ahmad. “If we don’t listen and think about the feelings of our child, and rely on a ‘my way or the highway’ rule, then we belong to the authoritarian style. A child raised under the authoritarian style faces high possibilities of increased self-esteem issues, because their feelings are not considered, and ideas are not appreciated by parents.

“However, if we endeavour to develop a strong relationship between us and our child, describe the logic of our instructions, consider the feelings of child and appreciate the ideas, then we belong to the authoritative category of parenting,” he added. “Research studies have proved that a child nurtured under the authoritative style grows as a responsible individual and feels relaxed while conveying the ideas and views.

“On the other hand, if we introduce regulations to our child but hardly implement them, and consider that our child would perform great in case of less intervention, and our involvement is required in case of serious issues, then we belong to the permissive style of parenting,” he went on to say. “A child raised under the permissive style struggles throughout the educational journey.

“However, if we don’t have discussions with our child about the educational matters, show less concern, devote less time, and hardly ever know about the classmates of our child, then we come under the classification of the uninvolved parenting style,” revealed Ahmad. “A child under the style of uninvolved parenting faces self-esteem problems and shows bad performance towards the educational journey.”

He understands, of course, that sticking to one parenting style can be difficult, but he assures parents that a hybrid approach to child rearing is a very effective solution. As life goes back to normal, he adds, parents need to develop a constant daily routine based on structured events and activities, spend one on one time with their child, enquire about educational problems, the resources they require, and other related issues.

In line with the impact COVID-19 has had on children’s education, and parenting skills, Dr Nauman recently presented at an international conference a paper titled “Online Education during and after Covid-19 Pandemic; Challenges, Opportunities and Post-Pandemic Changes”.

“The results of these actions are extremely encouraging towards the sense of protection and healthier changes in the behaviour of a child,” he explained. “If our child has been studying online and staying at home due to the restrictions of the pandemic pedagogy, then encouragement is the best tool to give them self-reliance. We have to compliment our child on good behaviour, and cater to the needs and resources of online education such as uninterrupted internet connectivity and a familiar learning environment.”

Ahmed also highlights the importance of framing communication positively: using words that have positive connotations such as ‘thoughtful’ and ‘reflective’, instead of one considered negative, such as ‘shy’, or ‘high sense of order’ instead of ‘rigid’ can go a long way in developing positive progress in a child.

He explained: “Instead of saying to the child ‘we regret to tell you that our plans to hang out are going to be cancelled, because you haven’t finished your homework’, say it positively, telling them that ‘we are very excited for this evening, and are waiting for you to finish your homework’.”

“Overall, it is strongly recommended that we have to do our best to sustain a progressive and encouraging connection with our child, along with the realisation of our authority,” he said.

Meanwhile, fitness educators have also taken steps to make sure children’s diets – many of which went awry because of the pandemic – are put back on track. To ensure dietary discipline in his young players, Chuck Martini, the head coach of Muscat Football Academy, has decided to collaborate with dieticians from Eva Clinics.

“The whole of the world has suffered with regards to COVID lockdowns – there weren't many guidelines when it came to keeping fit and healthy, because everyone was scared of catching the disease,” he said. “Adding to that, when you are sitting at home with nothing to do, you’re indulging in foods that are not healthy for you, because they make you feel good.

“Children spent quite a lot of this time playing a lot of online games, so when you have this cocktail, you will gain weight and suffer mentally as well,” added the former Morocco international goalkeeper. “With all the food delivery services available, there was no need to go out at all, and contributed to people putting on the pounds and becoming lazy.”

Eva Clinics will now help MFA’s trainees tackle the consequences of the poor diets they followed during the more severe portions of the pandemic. Under the agreement, all of the academy’s trainees can go to Eva Clinics, where they will be provided personalised diet charts.

“I hate to use the word ‘diet’: what you eat, after all, is what defines how you live your life,” he said. “Eating healthily does not necessarily mean eating salads all the time, but I look at it as a way of life, a way all of us should live permanently. What Eva Clinics’ doctors will add is their valuable knowledge of superfoods that will enhance the kids’ physical and mental performance, and help them recover faster from strenuous activity.” – [email protected]