Fight Right – The Kids are Watching, Listening and Learning

“Kids pay close attention to their parents’ emotions for information about how safe they are in the family.”

– E. Mark Cummings, Psychologist, Notre Dame University

Picture Courtesy: Free Digital Photos
Picture Courtesy: Free Digital Photos (Photo by David Castillo Dominici)

Unsettled family fights, especially between parents, impair children’s emotional development. This also amounts to Child Abuse. The child is subjected to undue emotional stress which will do collateral damage to him/her that can last a lifetime. With destructive adults in the family, the collateral damage to kids can last a lifetime.

In a family dispute, the most affected people are the tiny little souls who have no right to even express their views. And we adults shamelessly choose to bring out our ugly selves right in front of them. Hurling curses at each other, abusing and accusing, shouting, stamping foot, pointing fingers and even throwing anything that is within our reach. And then we don’t even bother to answer those zillions of questions in those curious eyes that try unsuccessfully to hide them behind a tear or two.

Read the complete post here at the World of Moms.

Discipline and Morality: Collective Lessons through Parenting and Teaching

I had been to the School PTM last weekend. And this is what I had scribbled as the young faces occupied my heart and mind almost all day long.

“All it takes for a dull moody me to jump up all excited is to attend the school PTM. The keywords to take away: silent star, hard-working, talkative, naughty, distracted, quick learner, shines bright, lacks initiative, speaks less, under-confident, committed, disciplined.

A teacher must be respected for she/he knows your child much better than you. They know their strengths and weaknesses and can help focus on the need areas. Felt bad watching some parents who literally gheraoed the teacher for a typo error in the question paper of grade I. How is the child going to respect the teacher when the parents exhibit this behaviour in front of them?

I love to listen to their complaints more than the academic performance. Actually, it is not the complaints but the expressions on those not-so-innocent baby faces worrying about what the teachers are going to disclose today. While most parents looked stressed, upset, angry and dissatisfied, the children had lit up faces meeting their friends, shaking hands and winking to each other in the school corridors.

Marks or less marks or no marks, these carefree days must be cherished. It’s their right. We owe it to them. Those little secrets. Those silly gossips. Those crazy friendships. Those cold stares. Those adolescent glances. All of them.”

But there is also something that has been bothering me since then.
I noticed that almost all the parents had some complaint or the other regarding one teacher or the other. Instead of interacting with the teacher to assess your child’s development, most of them were spending longer periods of time in pinpointing the mistakes of the teacher. Interesting thing is most of the mistakes that were being highlighted sounded really silly and sometimes made up. And in almost all cases, those parents were more interested in humiliating the teacher.

It is natural that we want the best for our children because we spend half of our hard-earned money on the school fees which keeps on getting inflated year after year. Teaching good manners, kindness and compassion for others is not only a teacher’s job. It starts from day one. Right from the time you hold your baby for the first time. It is our responsibility. I heard a parent tell the teacher proudly, “I told him to give five-six punches if anyone troubles him and I’ll take care of the rest.

Is that what you must teach a class three student?

The other day Li’l Love ran up to me at ‘home time’ crying. Upon asking she revealed that two boys from her class stepped on a small butterfly that was sitting on the floor. When I told her that they must not have seen it she said that they did it deliberately even after she told them not to harm it.

She is over-sensitive when it comes to tiny insects, except lizards. She wouldn’t allow us to use Hit or Baygon. Instead she wants us to chase the mosquitoes away. A cockroach she says never bites and so must not be harmed. I still remember how her three-year old self had spoiled our holiday in Munnar after she found a beetle she had admired one evening lying dead the very next morning. We tried to tell her that death is a natural process.

I repeated the same lesson on the butterfly day. But she said that this is not death but murder. She is not wrong. Any death that is not natural and is inflicted by others is a murder. A definition that WE taught her. I finally told her that may be their parents forgot to tell them that hurting others is wrong and killing a live being is a murder. Her father too had a separate session with her.

  • Why are young children showing signs of aggression?
  • Why are they so disrespectful?
  • Why are they so indifferent?
  • Why are they apathetic towards others?
  • Why can’t they feel the pain of others?
  • Is it because of lack of time from parents?
  • Is it lack of moral education at home and at school?
  • Is it because of excessive exposure to violence and crime through newspapers, television and other medium?

I feel there is something grossly wrong with the way children are being brought up these days. Parents I have noticed are encouraging improper language used for fellow students as well as teachers by their ward. In the name of being more understanding and accepting, we are sometimes being supportive for all the wrong reasons.

Excess of anything is poison. Love. Neglect. Trust. Criticism. Discipline. Sympathy. Punishment. Learnt it the hard way.

But the point is how do we tackle this problem that is consuming our future generation? I believe only a collective effort from parents and teachers can solve the problem. Instead of finding faults with each other we must learn to find solutions to behavioral issues in children and provide timely counselling to the child to help him/her escape from major wrongdoings. They must focus on teaching the child the principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.

Together we can.

Parent-Teacher-meeting

Raise Kids as Independent and Logical Thinkers

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“Mamma, are Muslims bad?”

“Why? Why are you asking me this question? Who told you all this nonsense?”

“So-and-so told me that her mother has told her not to talk to this particular boy in our class because he is a Muslim and they are not good. She has also asked him not to share food that the boy offers.”

“What do you think? Is that boy in your class bad? Does he harm you or anyone else in the class?”

“No. He is a good boy. Ma’am also likes him. He is a polite boy. He like to play with everyone.”

“What does that tell you? Is he good or bad?”

“He is a good boy.”

“Exactly. You already know what is right and wrong. I have also told you that your right may not be right for others. So don’t judge anyone by what you have heard from someone else. Try and learn to answer that question yourself based on your interaction with the person and what you know about that person. Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes. That does not mean that we are all perfectly right or perfectly wrong. Do you get this?”

“Yes. I understood.”

“Will you play with him? Will you share your things with him if he needs them?”

“Yes. I will.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This was a conversation I had with my EIGHT-YEAR-OLD a few days ago. Ever since I have been thinking about it and feeling extremely annoyed about how a parent was misleading their child against another innocent child.

Why the hell do we have to drag young and innocent minds into this dirty mess of religion, region, politics, racism, caste and gender?

Why can’t we let them be themselves?

Why can’t we let them develop their own perceptions on different aspects of life?

Why do we have to brainwash them?

As a mother I do understand the fears and worries of another mother. I myself do warn the girls about impending dangers from strangers. I warn them to be careful with people they know as well as people they do not know. But I have never told them to boycott another child because he was a bully, or because she was dark, or because he was from a certain community, or because she was from a family that supported a certain political party. What are we doing? Is there an end to this?

I know it was a personal decision of that mother and may be of their family but it left me fuming because I don’t like children being involved in these petty matters. We complain of young minds being radicalized or being brainwashed. What was this? If we continue to drag them into these, why should we complain about others?

I don’t support any such nonsense. If we really want to protect our children, we must teach them love, kindness, sharing, compassion and being sensitive towards others. We must teach them not to hurt others. We must teach them to respect another’s feelings and their properties. We must teach them to not bully others. We must equip them with wisdom to make out good from bad and right from wrong. Encourage them to use their logic to reach conclusions based on their experiences instead of forcing your own experiences on them. How can you proudly tell your child that a certain boy in the class is not good because he is a Muslim while you encourage your child when he tells you how he managed to knock down another child in the school?

What are your views on this?

Do you think children should be taught to judge others in this manner?