Laying the foundation

I concluded the previous post emphasizing the critical role of parents in laying the foundation of core values in children. Parents need to be the role models for children. Their actions talk best. Getting involved in the affairs of children holds the key and provides opportunities to parents to lay a strong foundation: brick-by-brick. We all come across situation like these:

• In a children’s game of Football or Cricket, the ball hits the neighbour’s window and breaks the glass. Parents can ignore it thinking it is not only their child who did it. On the other hand, Parents can take the child to the neighbour’s house to apologize and offer to get the glass replaced. This simple act teaches the child some important lessons: accept responsibility for your action; apologize if your action has caused inconvenience or harm to someone; and how to be a good neighbour.
• Children are generally excited in their moments of successes. Parents need to find time to join them in such moments. However, it is essential to discuss with them how did they achieve what they did. The child may confide in us (that is where an open and friendly communication helps), for example, the referee or umpire could not notice the fault which the child or one of his/her team member had made, and they won the game. Now, we have an opportunity to impart another lesson of integrity: how you achieve something is more important that what you achieve. We can explore the options of correcting such a mistake like accepting it before the other team, coach or umpire, saying sorry, even returning the trophy, if possible. If the child does any of these, we must show our instant appreciation in words and action.
• The moments of failures also provide opportunities that must not be missed. Parents often make the mistake of burdening the children with huge expectations. This puts them under a lot of stress. Some children even take the ultimate step and commit suicide if they don’t achieve the desired result. What is the big deal if they don’t get above 90 %, don’t get selected in an entrance examination or win in a sport? We, as parents, need to acknowledge the effort put in by the child. It is a good idea to celebrate the effort of the child by taking him/her out for dinner or to a movie. The child feels good and is encouraged to try harder the next time and learns important lessons: put in your best effort and don’t worry about the result; there is always a next time; and even if you don’t achieve what you are aiming for, it is not the end of the world… there are more opportunities to explore.

There may be many more examples of actions that parents can take. Each action is like laying a brick in foundation of building character of our children. If the initial bricks are not laid properly, the building may not be strong.

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2 Responses to Laying the foundation

  1. Indrani says:

    When it comes to character development of children nothing can be more foolish than “Do as I say not as I do”. It is said that home is the first school of a child. Hence the parents are the first teachers or rather lifelong teachers. Even as grown ups we often seek our parents advice in times of doubt or crsis. A small child is like a bare canvas. It is upto the parents, teachers and peers to paint the canvas in colours of generosity, honesty fairness and respect. I agree that parents have to be role models and drop unrealistic expectations. Encouraging and praising children on their achievements is also important. Parents should also stop comparing their children with other more successful children because this creates inferiority complex in the child and can lead to major personality disorders later in life. This posting is very well timed as children are getting their reports cards in school now and parents have to assess their behaviour to see whether thay have also passed the test in the context of what has been discussed.

  2. vibha says:

    Walk the talk. Leading by examples. We hear these phrases in the context of leaders but Afsir, you have put it so rightly, it has to begin from parents. I like the examples you have given. So real !!

    I recollect the dinner table experiences that my father and grand father used to share. I hardly remember them telling us that honesty is the best policy, instead they told a story when someone came to the office and offered bribe what they did and why. Or the story if when he gave a new sweater to the driver who was having high fever and was without warm clothes.

    I think such real stories form an indelible impression on children’s mind. I think with kids it is like computers – garbage in and garbage out. So if they see more and more good things in their parents’ daily actions, they copy that then and even later.

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