This is Part 2 of the article – 5 important things to teach a child, also the things that a parent can speak and do with a child more often. Click here for Part 1.
I don’t know. Let’s explore.
Children ask questions. They ask questions all the time. Expect them to ask unexpected questions at the most inopportune times. Till the time they indulge in their questioning, thank your stars. The innate and profound child in them is still alive. They haven’t yet started on their journey to silly and juvenile adulthood.
No sensible person would expect any adult, even an Einstein, to come up with answers to all the queries that a child comes up with. To a child’s question, the answer is, of course, important. Equally important is the process of handling and managing the question. To the child, her/his query is a matter of life and death. So, unless I know the answer, by trial and error I have ruled out the below responses.
Myself: I know the answer. The girl: So, tell me. The bluff does not work.
Myself: I will tell you later. The girl: When? When? When? Kicking the can does not work.
Myself: Ask me some other question. The girl: No, I want the answer to this question only. Diverting attention does not work.
Myself: You try and tell me. The girl: Um, um, um (thinks). Why are you asking me back (shouts)? It works once in a while, but recurring use backfires.
Myself: Behave as if I haven’t heard the question. The girl: Belittled, stomps out. The communication breaks down if done repetitively, very difficult to revive and get back the trust of the child.
Myself: Give an unconvincing answer, which in all probability is incorrect. The girl: Will keep raising queries, till I admit that I have no clue. To repeat, bluff does not work.
Myself: Shout. The girl: (unsaid) You are killing the curiosity and the child in me.
Suffice it to say, I don’t know. Let’s try doing it/read the book/search Google for the answer together.
Nothing better serves the quest for knowledge than the humility to own up and act in front of your child.
On the face of it, there is nothing more hazardous for a parent to teach a child than this: ‘Speak Up’. Even without teaching, the kids answer back. On top of it, when taught to ‘Speak Up’, the first victims of this newly taught and eagerly learnt skill will be parents. Who in a sane mind would want to increase her/his headache?
Believe me, if there is any learning that is going to hold the children in good stead in future when we are long dead, it is this: ‘Speak Up’. ‘Speak Up’ applies to the moral and ethical values that you would want your children to learn and hold on to. ‘Speak Up’ applies to all the discriminations, biases and injustices that the world will throw at your children and their resolve to face that head-on.
It is, of course, a matter of choice to teach this trait. The attribute to ‘Speak Up’ may not be considered a desirable quality in today’s world, wherein the ability to suck up to the powers-that-be is considered a virtue.
Given the current scenario of hatred and bigotry perpetuated by the right and the left, by the liberals and the radicals. I am convinced that without this quality taught to future generations, there won’t be a future left.
Childhood is the time to sharpen the cub’s claws, though the first blood that will get drawn will be parents’. For you would want your cub to grow up to be a fighter for the right, which may go against the might and the spite, teach them to ‘Speak Up’.
You are Unique
Right from the moment the baby is born, the parents/grandparents/relatives try to search for a bit of their selves in the baby. As the baby grows on to become a child, this search intensifies from the similarity of physical looks to the likeness of emotional and mental connect. The seeker, the adult, rejoices when s/he finds any parallel with the child, no matter how vague/made-up it might be.
As the child goes on to become a teen and an adult, the lurking world would want to co-opt her/him and bracket into already existing factions. The society would not let anyone enter the sanctum unless the norms are adhered to, the customs are followed, the rituals are respected, the rules are abided, all with staunch and unflinching allegiance.
This, again, is a matter of opinion. I get restless when anyone tells me not to raise questions but to follow. What good has ever been done by a person who accepts the status-quo, finds comfort in being a part of the herd and stays contented within the limits set by others?
Unless the boundaries are pushed, how will one ever feel the need to come out of the comfort zone/explore and determine/stand up for one’s self? Raising questions just for the sake of it is, of course, not the purpose.
The ultimate gift that a parent can give to her/his child – Individuality. Teach a kid to discover one’s self and have a unique identity.
These are the five things that we have been doing with our daughters in varying proportions. Hope to build on it further in time to come, speak and do with a child more often.
What would be your views? What would be your points that a parent can speak and do with a child more often?