Success in a child’s life is a distinction in sports, education or any field that the student may choose to be a career. Success for an adult is climbing up the professional ladder. In this fast-paced and competitive world, there is rarely time to preach about integrity and happiness. While the majority of us religiously follow the rules for family bonding time, take the frequent vacations, how much of character building does happen? We advise our children on etiquette and behavioural ethics, but how much do they absorb?
India has come a very long way in education and career. There used to be a time when the choices used to be restricted and forks in the road rather few. It was science, arts or commerce, and consequently career options were restricted and were based on these educational qualifications alone. But in the recent years, the education and career scenarios have shifted dramatically following the expanding demands and talents of the generation.
Exams or not, holidays or not, academic pressure plagues children and parents alike. It’s as if their entire life depended on it. Or does it? Why do we lay such stress on academic excellence? What happens to that section of the population who are not proficient enough? After all, it’s common knowledge that there can be only one topper? Then why are we all running a race without giving any thought as to why or how? Why is our inherent herd mentality which was meant to be a survival skill driving us to doom?
Bullies are everywhere. Being bullied while being perceived as being victimized does have serious and lasting consequences on the psyche. But the victim is not the only one who undergoes trauma. Addressing the issue from the root cause starts from the bully as he/she is has some grave psychological imbalance to go to the extent of finding solace in others’ misery with dominance.
Assertiveness is becoming an increasingly essential social and communication skill. But unfortunately it is confused with aggression. Aggression is a negative trait which may involve violence either actively or passively. But assertiveness is an expression of calm confidence that does not take on any form of violence. Aggressive responses signal a lack of self-confidence and most times deemed inappropriate whereas assertiveness is standing up for oneself or others and the most appropriate way to express views and opinions.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”
Exam times are not the only reasons for children to stay focused. Keeping their attention and concentration on the lessons as they are being taught is more crucial than just during exam times. And if they are taught the art of practicing focus, it becomes second nature to them thereby eliminating the need to be on their backs their whole lives.
Technological advances have brought with them a whole load of distractions by means of social media, movies and books all at the click of a button. Children spend maximum time online; some surf and some study. So is this article an advice to parent to ban social media and all electronic gadgets from children’s lives? Certainly not. A happy child with a happy mind is the basis for focus and depriving them is only going to make them sulk and is going to take their minds away from studies than ever.
Each child is unique and so are their talents. Some have conventional ones which are easily identifiable like music, dance, drawing and painting, oration and alike. Yet, others have some offbeat ones like humor, mimicry, voice throwing and so on. Every talent needs identification first and then nurturing to shine though. Children themselves are not aware of their abilities and skills unless parents recognize and start honing them. Unless talents are spotted and nourished in their formative years, it may be too late to flourish or may never come out and remain suppressed for life which may stay hidden in the locked cages of the minds.
“Life is a journey, not a destination”
In a world where everyone’s in a race either with themselves or in competition with others, how many amongst us ever stop to wonder about the destination. We keep running, passing on the baton to our kids. If we all could just pause for a moment and reflect on our journey, where we are headed to and whether the means justify the end, and taking it a little further – if the end was worth it all, we would find solutions to so many of life’s puzzles.
What are we teaching our children – both by words as well as from our actions? What are we after? While there is no doubt that monetary stability is one of the key factors to achieve success in life, is that all that matters? While each financial benchmark achieved is only a step to aim for the next, of what use is all this power, position and financial success without the heart and mind that stops to smell the flowers along the way; running blindly towards quenching an unquenchable thirst – the ever eluding elixir of life called HAPPINESS.
Parenting is joyful; and confusing. What is right and what is wrong? Who decides the rules and codes and where is the Bible? We all are well aware of the fact that parenting is done on an emotional and personal level so there are no specifics. We only have a broad understanding of right and wrong and even that can come under the scanner anytime.
In retrospect of our growing up years, we realize that parenting styles are very different from generation to generation. With that realization in hand, here is an effort in decoding the parenting style of the current generation.
We belong to the peer group of plenty – plenty of money and materials, plenty of attention for our children and also plenty of love in comparison to our previous few generations; which by itself is certainly a wonderful thing to give our children. The question now is – are we really showing more love than our parents or grandparents did? More specifically, is it love that we are showing? Do we detect a lack of discipline and sensitivity among the younger ones? What kind of society are we shaping up for the future? An imbalance of too much sensitivity towards oneself and very little towards others are staring at us in the face.
Punishment only breaks the spirit, does not heal it”
Does punishment really work? Why do we punish our children and what message are we giving them with punishment? And most importantly, how do they perceive it?
This post is neither to glorify punishment nor to dismiss it. It is just an attempt to think before we act;whether an act of violence and not necessarily a physical one, would fetch the desired result.
Very often, punishment is synonymous with discipline. But this is far from the truth. When we punish a child, it is just a reaction, an instinct in answer to their defiance –TIT FOR TAT. Before this we react with punishment, if we stop to think if years of punishment have their fitting effect, the answer more often would be NO. By punishing a child, we teach the children that it is alright to overreact, teaches him/her that it is ok to disrespect fellow citizens and paves way for total insecurity and lack of self-confidence. This may manifest as either an overly submissive child or a violent bully. The message we assume we are giving and the message perceived by the child are completely different. Children learn by observation than by advice and by punishing the children who are vulnerable and weaker than us, we give the message that it is perfectly alright to show our might to weaker beings.
Just because we were spanked, snapped at or verbally abused as a child, does it justify following the same master plan for our children too? “We turned out just fine” – is this an acceptable statement to rationalize the scar we are stamping on our innocent kids’ souls?
So what is the right way to discipline? Discipline is not a situation based attribute but has to come from within. It is the parents’ core responsibility to inculcate discipline by imbibing self-realization in the child; to make the child understand that parents will only be guides and it is the child himself who has to reap the results of his actions. Making children responsible for their own actions is a long term and far healthier alternative to punishing. To become a guide, we need to resist the temptation to control every aspect of their life and grow out of the mindset that children cannot handle life without our constant intervention. Hold the string when they soar and just give a mild tug when they turn in the wrong direction.
Punishing only creates fear and destroys the child’s innocence and compassion – qualities children are naturally born with. Are we seeking a fear-based relationship with our kids or a loving one? Do we want our children to remember us as kind and loving parents or as fearsome ones? More importantly do we want them to understand the values of discipline and taking responsibility for their actions? If the answer is yes, then impulsive punishment is not the solution.
On the same lines as this article, consider using this only as a guideline and not as a Gospel. After all, parenting uses only guidelines and not rulebooks. End of the day, we choose our parenting strategies based on our faiths and beliefs. And there is no right or wrong in parenting. We only reap the fruits of our actions.