Learning To Respect Our Children

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“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

– Nelson Mandela.

Thinking about the current trends in Indian society, children, most often designated as ‘minors’, have always been assumed to be subordinate to all others. Unfortunately, they are the most taken-for-granted members of the family under the misconception that they are incapable of understanding their surroundings. As they grow up, children are taught to respect elders, as this is embedded in our culture. Rightfully so, it is something our society is proud of, as this forms the basis for our exemplified family system. However in this process, we have forgotten that our children are equally deserving of respect, and as a result, we have a huge sum of people who are burdened with low self-esteem, and serious problems like social anxiety. These are but scars carried from childhood.

On the brighter side, better education has enabled parents to be more aware of their children’s needs and resulted in helping children make better efforts. However, in addition to making a conscious effort in showing respect to children, which is the focus of this article, it is necessary to ensure that this gesture is noticed, and reciprocated. For this, parents could borrow some healthy parenting tips.

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

— James Baldwin, novelist and social critic

  • As the quote suggests, children are great imitators. They are better at learning by watching others in their vicinity, rather than by listening to suggestions given by the same people. As parents, you could indulge in behaviours that you wish to inculcate in your children, like patterns of discipline, reading, table manners, speaking softly, use of good language, etc. As children start imitating, you could slowly explain the benefits of these behaviours, with relevant examples from your own life. This way, you will not only train your children successfully to perform better in different spheres but also become role models for them.
  • Many households witness a communication gap between parents and children. To enhance communication, parents should start verbalising their own emotions and expressing themselves to their children. This would instil a sense of trust in children, and with time, they will start opening up to their parents. Efforts made in doing so should highly be appreciated by the parent, in the form of statements such as “I am glad you trusted me enough to tell me all of this”.
  • Often parents are annoyed because of their children’s misbehaviour. Scolding or extreme measures like beating is the easy way out, but not always successful in the long run, and often problematic. Instead, it is always better to have a healthy discussion concerning the cause of such behaviour. Parents should make an effort to understand the whole situation instead of focusing only on the child’s misbehaviour, and finally explain why it is not right for them, with the help of examples they can relate to. This will help develop respect toward the parent and will enhance the child’s understanding towards others.
  • Most importantly, all parents are concerned about their children’s academic performance, while trying to provide the best of all that is available. In this context, initiatives taken by children for self-improvement may sometimes work, and sometimes not. Therefore, it is essential for parents to appreciate efforts along with achievements, and also suggest alternative measures to make their effort a success. Children should also be made to understand the reasons behind any failure to turn it into a learning opportunity. This increases frustration tolerance and helps them imbibe a sporty attitude.
  • Next, it is important to make children feel responsible for themselves as they grow towards adolescence, allowing them with reasonable space to learn from their mistakes. This will improve their decision-making ability and will make them great learners. In this process, it is recommended to respect personal space.
  • Finally, it is mandatory for parents to show that their children’s ideas are trusted and valued. Parents could show this by making use of gestures like making their opinions count in family discussions, and explaining to them major decisions made in the family. This will not only boost self-esteem but also improve their social skills and critical thinking ability.

In a nutshell, no matter how small they are, children are also people, who are in fact uniquely endowed with more creativity than any adult. And that is why they should be raised as unique individuals born to learn and achieve great things. Remember, children will aspire for greatness only if they are made to think they deserve it.

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