This blog is the fourth of a 12-part series on ‘Parenting is a Journey’. Ignatius Fernandez also blogs at http://thechildisfatheroftheman.blogspot.in/.
Jane, an accomplished dancer, was getting married. At her wedding reception, her mother, now a widow, spoke of the time Jane learnt to dance on her father’s feet. In her reply, Jane said that it was true she learnt to dance on her father’s feet, but she learnt to dance through life on her mother’s feet. That was an unexpected compliment for the mother who had helped her daughter in building her self-worth.
One of the better gifts we can give our children is SELF-WORTH, which is confidence in their God-given talents and abilities, and the drive to actualise their potential. Teach them ‘to walk tall’. This is a tough task. How do we go about it?
1) Let the child be an overseen risk-taker. As long as he does not expose himself to serious danger, let him explore.
2) Discourage self-pity (“I am not good at painting”). Instead, remind him of success he has in other areas.
3) Let him develop his own interest. If music beckons him, let him go to it, as long as he does not neglect other areas essential to his growth.
4) The child will need training of skills and constructive feedback. We can be regular coaches to children who show promise. Honour their small requests. Discuss the big ones. Even when a request is turned down, he must know he is loved.
5) Help him realise his potential. The pursuit of excellence entails goal-oriented labour and perseverance. Such goal-setting should be adjusted to the capacity of the child; one who is less gifted cannot match the goals set for the more gifted. In the pursuit of such goals, the child should learn to win and lose gracefully. Not gloat when he wins and sulk when he loses. To help him we could assign him small tasks and evaluate his performance.
6) He must know that whining is not acceptable. Rather, we encourage him to honestly express his feelings: “I don’t like the way my sister tries to get your attention”. Then we discuss those feelings.
7) Let him learn to look at the goodness in people, and not at their weakness; being less judgemental. Rough edges in his personality can be gently filed away.
8) We could encourage in him a sense of fairness in treating those around him, especially the less privileged.