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.
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails”
The immediate visual that pops up at the mention of the world ‘leader’ is a person with a group of followers. But a leader is not just about power or control. Any person who can inspire, motivate and bring about a positive change in people’s minds is a leader. And a leader leads by example and not by force. A leader does not necessarily feature in CNN interviews and appear on the cover of Forbes magazine to qualify as one. Your next door neighbor who funds her maid’s children’s education is also a leader. A leader does not do great things but does small things in a great way.
What are the leadership qualities that we come across in such people in everyday life and how do we inculcate those in our children?
- The primary and most common characteristic of all leaders is confidence and faith in his ideologies and practices. Going that extra mile to make things happen with the broader goals in mind is true leadership quality. A leader makes things happen because the focus is on making the RIGHT things happen and not the EASY things. Children start observing the world around them very early in life and it is important to help them distinguish between right and wrong and stand up for the right values by exposing them rather than just give them tips on scoring high in Moral Education exams.
- The ultimate goal should be of prime focus and a true leader does not deviate from this come what may. The path to glory will certainly not be a bed of roses but true leadership quality comes from teaching them how to develop strategies to overcome hurdles and not get worn out by the challenges. As parents, motivation and inspiration are the only support we can lend by sidestepping and cheering our offspring. The taste of success is sweet and achieving the little goals by itself is an encouragement to aim for the next and bigger step towards success. Our role is very small compared to their efforts, but a very significant and mandatory one in their lives.
- Values: No person in this world is infallible and a leader is no exception to this. But what make him worthy of looking up to for inspiration are his beliefs and ethics; and the readiness to accept his faults and shortcomings with sincere apologies. A leader is a brand by himself irrespective of the organization he represents. By exposing children to situations that involve team work, we hone their cooperation and communication skills and enhance their decision making skills. Inculcating proper humility in dignity of labor, sharing and empathy make them better human beings.
Some are born leaders while some are made. While not every parent can be a leader, they can certainly be a mentor to their children to become one. It’s the training and education that makes all the difference.
A small word of caution though; while leadership skills and qualities are most sought after, it becomes imperative here to emphasize that a leader also can be someone’s follower whom he derives his influence from. While I write this article, I realize all thoughts being penned are a result of years of learning from various sources; hence, no one is ever born great; it takes a society to make one a great person and a true leader aims to give back a portion of what he has attained.
“Pride is concerned with WHO is right and humility is concerned with WHAT is right”
Before learning how to be it is important to know how not to be. Though poles apart, there is a very thin line that divides arrogance and humility. That line is called confidence. While arrogance is a result of deep rooted insecurity and fears, humility is the mind to accept one’s faults.
If we could stop for a moment and make a list of people whom we like, the ones most likely to top the list would be those who make us feel important, feel good and create a feeling of comfort with their approach – they are the humble people. Not just our near and dear ones, even the leaders we emulate and look for inspiration are those with a humble disposition. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to take it a step further to say that it is this attribute which made them leaders in the first place. So what makes humility so important for a leadership position, or rather a leadership quality?
- Self-realization: A humble leader knows his strengths and weaknesses and has the courage to accept and agree publicly. This makes him more human and approachable as people immediately tend to have an instant connect.
- Humane leader or just a human? : No one in their right sense would want to work under an egomaniac who achieves success with threats, shaming and intimidation. Power is not an authority to abuse but to encourage, motivate and bring out the best in his employees. An employee should perform out of his self-will and motivation and not out of fear. A humble leader acknowledges the skills and hard work and creates an environment of collaboration and not of competition among his employees.
The first step towards instilling this leadership quality in our own children is of course by being a role model ourselves. But beyond this, there are certain attributes we need to develop in us parents to ensure they learn it right.
Appreciation and motivation for well-deserved achievements is certainly vital, but at the same time, let us also soak up this feeling in them that while their feats are certainly cherished and valued, our love does not stem from these. Our love is a result of what they are and not for what they have. This would sink into them the conviction that love and compassion is for humanity and not for our skills, materialistic possessions or looks.
Humans always have this inherent quality to desire what we lack. While it’s all good to be able to afford, let us realize and make our children also understand that there are many out there who are deprived of the basic necessities of human survival. Exposing children to such realities and making them experience the joy of giving instills compassion alongside.
Words have the power to make or break and the choice of words also creates associated attributes. Teaching them the basics of courtesy like Thank You and Sorry imbibes humility with practice; because there is nothing better than gratitude for our gifts from God and accepting our faults with apologies that makes one a better person and consequently a better leader.
Humility is NOT humiliation. Humility comes from practice and observation and humiliating a child only makes them meek; not modest.
Give your child enough confidence to hold the head up and enough humility to not look down upon others. But remember, the moment you acknowledge your humility, it ceases to exist.
Putting someone else’s interest before our own is a value which must be taught to children. Being kind, helpful and, generally, a good human being is something children will learn only if people around them practice the same. In a world where popular culture celebrates egocentric thoughts and centres around becoming successful no matter what, we need to make children believe that compassion will take them places.
In a workplace, being sensitive to others’ problems, helping each other in times of crisis, sharing workload etc, are important values in order to encourage teamwork, and create a trusted, secure, happy and satisfying work environment. Success is but natural in such compassionate and affectionate workplaces. Nobody in the world is successful on their own, they will always have someone who has helped them in some way or the other to climb the success ladder.
In fact, compassion is what makes us different from wild animals in the forest, it is what makes us human.
We live in a society and not in isolation, and so, we must remember that we will need people sometime in our lives and those relationships can be built only if you truly love and care for them.