Read the first part here: Kids are a powerful force – I
A child can twist you around his or her little finger (Magician), can amaze you with spontaneous gestures and response (Talented Actor), can come up with mind blowing argument to drive home a point (Lawyer), can instigate fights with your spouse and in-laws unknowingly and also bring peace (Diplomat) and much more. But all this is underlined with innocence which is the essence of childhood. William Wordsworth’s quote “A child is the father of the man” sounds apt here. On a lighter vein you do not have to worry about their career options in the future, as they are already displaying relevant traits.
Now, how do some specific traits or behaviour patterns come into place? Our behaviour is influenced by the social, cultural and economic dynamics and so will be our kids. They learn first and foremost by observing their parents, older siblings and if you live in a joint family, then the other family members. The most basic behaviour pattern they pick up is related to demonstrating anger, usage of spoken language, tone, mannerisms and conduct. Therefore the onus lies on the “primary role models”, us the parents and other family members to demonstrate favourable behaviour defined as social norms by the society we live in.
Then comes adapting behaviour patterns from interacting with other children or adults outside home and also within home. It can be positive and constructive behaviour patterns like learning to share, help, love, show affection, concern etc. This leads to good self confidence, self esteem, communication, interpersonal and social skills.
The so called negative and destructive behaviour patterns adapted by children can be lying, stealing, manipulative behaviour, physical violence, etc. The reasons for this range from lack of love, security, fear of someone and many other factors. It can lead to some behavioural disorders like stammering, bed wetting, playing truant, thumb sucking, nail biting, excessive shyness and temper tantrums. It causes anxiety and concern in parents. But they could be common problems with no symptomatic behavioural disorders; nonetheless it is important for parents to take guard of the situation. In persistent cases, it is advisable to seek professional help.
It is vital for parents to keep track of the company the children keep, the kind of stuff they watch on TV, the games they play on computers, attend parent-teacher meetings at school and interact with their teachers. Most important, keep communication open with them. Our children need constant positive strokes, attention and love which fosters a feeling of security and trust in them. They should be encouraged to share their day to day experiences without inhibitions and fear of being judged or criticized. Whenever required they also need to be disciplined, to make them realise the difference between favourable and unfavourable actions and behaviour.
So acknowledge your children’s strengths and weaknesses and help them develop a positive attitude towards learning and living in this world. I would like to share these excerpts from the book “Children Learn What They Live” by Dorothy Law Nolte:
If children live with criticism,
they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility,
they learn to fight.
If children live with fear,
they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity,
they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule,
they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy,
they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame,
they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement,
they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance,
they learn patience.
If children live with praise,
they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance,
they learn to love.
If children live with approval,
they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition,
they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing,
they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty,
they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness,
they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration,
they learn respect.
If children live with security,
they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness,
they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
(Manjula Harpanahalli is an educational counsellor and a psychologist by profession. She runs an advising center in Hyderabad called Educational and Career Information Resource Centre (EdCIRC). She advises students on various educational and career opportunities in India and the United States.)