Laying the foundation

March 22, 2009

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.