Some time back a distraught news shook all of us here in Bangalore – after being bullied in a school van, a 14-year-old student of a reputed school in Bangalore has committed suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of his apartment building. The child is said to have been depressed over regular bullying by another student.
We wish he had shared this incidence and feelings with someone, and wish the other boy was sensitive to understand how his bullying was impacting others!
Helping children to develop responsibility, empathy and respect is usually just as important as teaching Math and English. Building emotional well being is becoming much more important for making this world a livable place !
There are lots of great values to teach your child, which can help them to avoid peer pressure or temptations. One of the best ways to teach values to your children is to lead by example. If you want your child to grow up to be honest and compassionate you need to strive for these qualities within yourself. Your lessons can quickly be forgotten if your children watch you contradict what you try to teach.
Help kids find a way to tell truth
Your child takes his cues from you, so it’s important that you try to avoid any kind of deception, even a seemingly innocuous one. (Never, for instance, say something like “Let’s not tell Daddy we got ice-cream this afternoon.”) Let your child hear you being truthful with other adults. Another way to promote the value of honesty: Don’t overreact if your child lies to you. Instead, help her find a way to tell the truth.
When the mother of 4-year-old Ansh walked into the family room one afternoon, she saw that her large potted plant had been toppled and that several branches had been snapped off. She knew right away what had happened: Once before, she had seen Ansh making his toys “climb the trees,” and she’d told her son at the time that the plants were off-limits. When Mom demanded an explanation, a guilty-looking Ansh blamed the family dog.
Ansh’s mom reacted sensibly: She interrupted her child’s story and said, “Ansh , I promise I won’t yell. Think about it for a minute, and then tell me what really happened.” After a moment, the child owned up to his misdeed. As a consequence, Ansh had to help clean up the mess and was not allowed to watch television that afternoon, but his mom made sure to emphasize how much she appreciated her son’s honesty. In doing so, she taught the child an important lesson: Even if being honest isn’t always easy or comfortable, you-and other people-always feel better if you tell the truth.
Teach them to think about other’s feelings
At a recent family gathering, Tina and Tia, 4-year-old cousins, were making doll’s house with blocks. Suddenly, Tina knocked over Tia’s doll house, and she started to cry. Witnessing the scene, Tina’s father chided his daughter and ordered her to apologize. Tina dutifully said, “I’m sorry.”
Then his dad took her aside and asked, “Do you know why you pushed over her blocks?” She told him that she was mad because Tia’s castle was bigger than hers. The dad told her that though this was no excuse for destroying her cousin’s castle, he could understand her feelings. He then sent her back to play.
The father’s reaction was similar to that of many psychologically savvy parents: He wanted his daughter to identify and express her feelings and to understand why she behaved as she did. That’s okay, but it isn’t enough. In order to help children internalize a true sense of justice, parents need to encourage them to take some action to remedy a wrong. For example, Tina’s dad might have suggested that she help Tia rebuild her doll house or that she bring her some cookies as a gesture of apology.
Saying “I’m sorry” is pretty easy for a child, and it lets her off the hook without forcing her to think. Having a child make amends in a proactive way conveys a much stronger message. If you’re aware that your child has acted badly toward someone, help them think of a way to compensate. Maybe he can give one of his trucks to a friend whose toy he has damaged. Perhaps he could draw a picture for his sister after teasing her all day. By encouraging your child to make such gestures, you emphasize the importance of treating people fairly-an essential value that will one day help him negotiate the complicated world of peer-group relationships.
Do these small problem-solving exercises actually help a child learn these important values? You bet. Over time, even a young child sees that words or actions can make another person smile or feel better, and that when she’s kind to someone else, that person is nice to her.