Making Choices – Parents Teach Your Child!

Swapna Mirashi

Life is a series of Multiple Choice Question Tests. The sum total of these test scores becomes our life.

We are so meticulous in training our children to get a perfect score in their tests at school. We spend much time, effort and money in making the best resources available and creating the most conducive environment for the child to crack these tests. There is this series of multiple choice question tests our children are taking every day, the scores of which will become their lives. Are we, the parents, aware of these? Are we preparing our children for these tests? Buckle up parents, its action time!

Introduction – How do we make choices? How do children make choices?

I have looked for answers to these for designing advertising and brand strategy; for insights into the behaviour of a consumer group, very significant and rapidly growing in importance to marketers worldwide. I have looked for these insights from a financial literacy perspective to develop financial literacy content. I am now looking at it from a parenting perspective.

Study of mind and behaviour is at the heart of all three; education, parenting and advertising.

Education and parenting is all about nurturing and nurturing is about understanding the mind and shaping it to the best of our understanding and the child’s potential. Successful education or parenting messages stem from a strong child-interest.

Advertising is about influencing behavioural and lifestyle changes to integrate the brand – product or service – it is promoting. For decades, advertisers have been spending big bucks, significant amount of time and effort on studying consumer mind and behaviour. Successful ad campaigns and messages that have their roots deep in business interest.

Children, young and older, are receptive to these messages and behavioural changes.

The question is, who has the larger ‘share of voice’ – parents and educators or advertisers?

Is the voice of messages that stem from a strong child-interest louder and stronger enough to counter the messages rooted in business interest?

I am a marketing professional by qualification, a financial literacy expert by profession, a writer by passion, a beginner storyteller and stage actor, and a lifelong student of psychology (my father and my sister being psychologists, helps). My CV and my outlook broadened on 19 November 2007, when I became a mother.

In last 8 years as a mother, I have lived in 3 countries; multicultural, multinational environments. This meant a steep learning curve and an opportunity to experience diverse situations, understand diverse thinking and to look at the same situation or the same problem from very different perspectives. I have also read hundreds of books on parenting and upbringing. I have read these books to find a right direction when I was confused. I have resorted to reading and asking when I felt guilty for empathy and reassurance. Because, parenting is that kind of a roller coaster, a pot boiler, epic that will take you down the emotional ride one moment and lift your spirits high up the next. And I believe, from experiencing it first hand, observing it second hand and reading and knowing about it third hand, that parents are a unique species characterised by giving nature, protective instincts and a vulnerable mind. Modern parents, with all the above characteristics, are also confused, guilt-laden, stressed bodies, minds and souls. And a large part of this has to do with the modern, fast paced, consumerist world that we live in with millions of options to choose from at every stage in every walk of life. And the choice is OURS. So who else will be stressed to make the right choice? Who will take the guilt of making a wrong one?

I have been reading, listening, observing myself and others – parents, adults and children, thinking, hypothesising, understanding and ‘making choices’ consciously for more than 8 years now.

I bring to you my observations, experiments and experiences, findings and key takeaways from my obsession over children making choices and adults around them helping (or not) them.

I sincerely hope that as you read this book, you will come across situations you can relate to, will see the context in which we are living and bringing up our kids today and agree that our children need help and we, the parents, are in the best position to help them.