When you sow a seed, do you know how the plant will grow up to be?
Will you plant a mango seed and expect an orange tree to grow from it?
Will you expect the plant to grow from the seed by not watering it?
Will you daily go and tell the seed, “why are you not growing quickly, why are you so lazy, why are you so dumb”?
These questions may sound strange to you but imagine your child as that seed - can you now relate to the above questions?
In the Solomon Islands of the Pacific, the islanders practice a special form of curse magic. If a tree has to be cut down and if it is too big to be chopped down, it is brought down by the combined efforts of the Islanders by continuously cursing negatively and yelling at the tree. This negative energy somehow damages the tree’s life energy and after about 30 days of getting cursed, the tree dies off and falls to the ground!
Whether it is true or not, criticizing a kid can have a similar impact on a child’s self-esteem and in his/her attitude towards life. As quoted by Peggy O’Mara, “The way we talk to our child becomes their inner voice”. Just like how a seed takes its required nourishment from its surrounding. As responsible adults, it is our responsibility to give every child a healthy environment which enables growth.
Brainobrain’s skill development programme has given me the strength and opportunity to make some positive interventions in the lives of children. One day in the abacus class, I was taking a spelling test for a student and asked him to write the spelling of ‘Fabulous’. Then, I asked him generally, “You are Fabulous, isn’t it?”. The child immediately said, “No ma’am, I make a lot of silly mistakes”. My heart sank a bit and I told him gently that it is ok to make mistakes as it is important to learn from them and to not repeat them. After the class, I rang up his mother and spoke to her. The mother said, “Yes ma’am, he makes many silly mistakes. He is very sharp though”. I suggested, “Instead of focusing on his mistakes, shall we focus on his ‘rights’ and start appreciating him for those? Let us see how it works as definitely criticizing is not helping”. She immediately agreed. Needless to say, that changed that little boy’s life tremendously!
Thanks to the immediate readiness of the parent to change. But, what if the parent did not pay attention to the suggestion? The child must have grown up with the same mindset that he makes silly mistakes and he is not worthy. How unhappy will he be all through his life? We, the immediate adults around every child, leave a long lasting impact on the child’s personality – make it worth!
Even adults sometimes feel the need to be appreciated. It’s the basic emotional need of a human being, irrespective of age. Emotional need of a child is to get appreciated for the right things he/she does, than to be pointed at the silly mistakes. How we make them feel matters a lot.
“Winning doesn't always mean being first. Winning means you're doing better than you've ever done before” -- Bonnie Blair”
How wonderful it will be if we make our kids believe this.
As a parent, I used to worry about my kids' future and always wanted to give them the best. But in that process the pressure increased and the pleasure decreased. We were not happy and there was always tension in the home atmosphere. I realized that me worrying and making kids unhappy is definitely not the solution. But, giving them a happy home matters, if I want to raise a happy individual.
Every child has unique learning skills. Comparing them with other kids is never a good option. Let the kids enjoy the process of learning. If we instil the value of Self-Belief in them, they can excel in whatever they do. Let’s start appreciating children even for the slightest improvement. That will boost their confidence level and will make them feel special. Parents can ensure that at least at home they get the right environment for growth and that they experience happiness. We must make them so confident that they feel proud to be themselves. In life, to have healthy self-esteem, we all need appreciation and motivation. Growing kids need a lot more motivation and appreciation than we adults do. The formative years of our lives, shape us in a big way. When kids get enough appreciation, they develop into secure adults with healthy self-esteem.
Let’s start appreciating our kids for their efforts; not for the results.