Today’s interview features a Child Psychologist and an internationally certified Parenting & Behavior Coach from Mumbai, Riddhi Doshi. Mother of a 9 year old boy, Dhwan Patel, she is the founder of LAJA, India’s first forum for women which solely focusses on the overall and holistic development of women. She is also a founder at Rhhyns Academy Pvt. Ltd., having specialities like Child Psychology, Soft Skills Training, Etiquette and Personality Development, NLP Trainer, Behavioral Coach and the like. Riddhi also runs a blog successfully by the name Riddhi’s Musings.
She hold an MBA in HRD, LLM and numerous other professional certifications from prestigious international institutions including University of Cambridge, BSY University, City of Guilds, London, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and NMIMS, Mumbai.
Riddhi is a TEDx speaker too. Apart from that, she has been speaker and advisor at organizations like Rotary Club, Tata Power, Larson & Toubro and The Times of India.
She has been awarded “National Award for Cultural Activities by AVANTIKA- Delhi”, ” Excellence in Wellness”, “Young Entrepreneurs Award”, ” Self Made Diva Award” among various others.
With such vast knowledge in her kitty, I’m sure you will definitely get benefitted from her experiences.
Excerpts from an email interview with Riddhi Doshi.
1. As a child psychologist, how has your motherhood been different from others?
As a Child Psychologist, being a mother has been different; but not without my own set of challenges. My training and qualification made it amply clear right at the start that no two children are alike. Yes, I was able to notice signs of distress, or of behavioral changes right at the onset; however, dealing with them had to be done through new and innovative methods each time.
However, with my knowledge about children’s behavior and their thoughts, I was able to deal with everything without panicking or overreacting. As a mother, my heart got emotional and puzzled, but as a psychologist, I was equipped to deal with and handle it better than most moms.
Knowing that a tantrum thrown is not because the child is adamant, but maybe because he is seeking attention or indirectly asking for love. Understanding that a child sitting silently at the window is not necessarily because he is upset; but maybe because his mind is filled with jumbled up thoughts that need some calm and quiet to decode the thoughts! Starting and ending the day with a warm hug, words of genuine love, and rounding up with an update on the day. These are all small but very important traits that I as a Child Psychologist have to understand and implement in my journey through motherhood. I am not perfect, but I am surely better equipped as a mother to deal with the daily changes that happen to my child and to his feelings and thoughts.
2. Has child psychology changed with time? Is traditional parenting still workable or does it need to upgrade?
Child Psychology has to change with time; it’s important that it changes. What worked during our parents growing up years, worked only partially while we were growing up and is completely redundant in the current age!
With changing times, new technology, new exposure, and extending reach to the world; traditional parenting methods need to change. Gone are the days when you could spank your child in public to disciple him; or reprimand your child when someone comes home with a complaint. Now you need to talk to your child and explain right from wrong and also listen to your child for his version of the incident.
Similarly, the exposure to the world and technology also means that your child is exposed to a thousand things more than what you were exposed to at his age. From the seen in and around us to the unseen on the internet and beyond; everything has an impact on our child. Knowing how to handle all this without hampering the child’s emotional and mental wellbeing is important.
3. Is there a psychology behind “Mamma’s boy” and “Daddy’s girl”?
As per my experience and knowledge, there is really no psychology behind ‘Mamma’s boy and Daddy’s girl”. The comfort level between the child and parent determines the ease with which a child goes to a parent. Yes opposite sex attracts and it’s natural in a human being. However when we talk about the bond between a parent and child; any parent who gives the child a safe, non-judgmental space to communicate and share is the person to whom the child will go to and will feel comfortable with.
4. Lockdown was fun with family initially but it’s continued extension has started showing a negative impact on infants and toddlers. They are afraid to go out and have started showing irritable behavior. What do you suggest?
Yes, the lockdown has given rise to irritable behavior among children and toddlers and you really can’t blame them. Children and toddlers who are almost always taken out for a stroll or to the play area before the lockdown are now stuck inside the four walls of the house. Yes, during the initial days of the lockdown parents did try to make things interesting for the children by spending time with them, inventing games, and tasks to keep them occupied. However as the lockdown extended, it was the parent who was losing patience. Parents have been having a tough time to cope-up with the stress of being stuck at home with an active child who demands their attention. As working parents, the uncertainty of employment, salaries, job security, and such added to the stress. Their frustration and irritability are what is being rubbed off on children who are unfortunately at the receiving end of most adult stress. So it is the parent’s stress that is showing side effects on the children.
5. What’s your take on imparting sex education to kids? When is the right time and how to approach your kid?
Sex education is very important in current times. One – because exposure to sex and sexually explicit content is so freely available, and second – because it is high time we move away from sex being a taboo to sex being natural. While it is difficult to pinpoint and state what is the right time for sex education, considering the varying age of maturity and the kind of socio-physical surroundings the child comes from; it would be best to start when a child starts undergoing hormonal changes. Good touch – Bad touch can be shared with children as young as 3 years old; however, a detailed explanation of the anatomy, sexual organs, and reproduction can be done in the early teens. It is important to talk about sexual hygiene and hormonal & physical body changes with girls who start menstruating because they will start to notice their body change might not even identify with their changing bodies. With boys, once they reach their teens; sex education, including – consent, respect, and safe sex should be taught.
It’s always best for the parent to sit with the child and first ask what the child knows or understands or has heard about sex. Once you are able to establish the child’s awareness; then you can proceed with age-appropriate information. Take the help of medical guides of sex education recommended literature available with your doctor. Parents need to shake off the embarrassment and taboo associated with sex talk and accept that they are their child’s best teachers who have the child’s best interest in mind.
6. Care to share your secret to perfectly managing your busy schedule and parenting?
The lockdown has played havoc with all my planning and my schedule. Managing home, family and work has been tough. Added to that is the fact that the lockdown has opened up a can of worms and many children and adults alike are calling up for counseling and advice. So yes, the schedule has been crazy and very challenging. However, there is nothing that a little bit of organization and team work cannot handle. So, all home chores are done collectively as a family; with the husband and in-laws helping out and my son helping me in the kitchen. Our mornings begin with my husband and me spending some extra time in bed with our son, goofing around, planning the menu and scheduling the day. Together we tackle the day’s chores talking, laughing, sharing stories and updating each other on the happenings through the day. The breaks between counseling sessions are once again spent in making the next meal or clearing up. Finally the day ends with some family time again.
7. Your message to the mommies of the world?
Motherhood is wonderful. It’s like rebirth for us women. We change as individuals, as women, our priorities and even our personalities. Take each day as a new one and put to use the learning’s from the past. Do not hold a grudge too long, because it will end up exhausting you and stressing your mind. Instead let bygones be bygones and focus on the happiness and joy that’s present now and here.