(This post appeared first on ModernLifeBlogs.)
As parents we are always concerned about inculcating the right values in our children but have you wondered what we can learn from our children?
Children do not bring any preconceived notions or prejudices to the classroom. So they are always full of wonder and curiosity. As adults we have to learn to unlearn. Our false notions and egoistic beliefs stand in the way of our quest for truth.
A child is a bundle of energy jumping from task to task with effortless ease. Even after hours of play they do not want to stop. The reason is they are lost in the present moment and fully enjoy whatever they do. Children play like there is no tomorrow.
Who does not love an innocent child? They have no qualms about the future. They are always honest and say what is on their mind. They also do not build walls of discrimination based on colour, caste or creed. Their love is unconditional.
Have you seen a child cry one moment and burst into laughter the very next moment? They do not brood over trivial quarrels or misunderstandings. They are able to forgive and forget. This is one important lesson that we can learn from children.
Children are known to laugh a great deal more than adults. Cartoons, comic books, jokes and mimicking are the best part of childhood. This keeps them intrinsically motivated and it also inspires and changes the mood of all around them.
What are the lessons that you have learnt from your child?
“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” – Aldous Huxley
My parents were conservative and talking about sex was almost taboo and we also didn’t have as much exposure as the kids do today. So, I grew up learning most of the stuff through friends in college, movies and magazines.
The other day I overheard 2 primary school children discuss among themselves. One of them was giggling and bullying the other – Do you know how you were born? Do you know that your parents did mmmm mmmm on the bed? How many kids do you want to have when you grow up?
It is not surprising as kids these days learn in primary school about reproduction in plants and animals and this arouses their curiosity. It is only natural that your child begins to ask you . And we parents who have not given it a thought are stumped for an answer.
Children today are flooded with sources about sex. Newspapers report cases of trysts of professors, politicians and civil servants with underaged children. The television, Google, youtube, MTV are all just a click away. So, if we as parents do not guide our children about the right attitudes and behaviours, then they may land up getting a distorted view from these external sources.
I believe that children should know the facts to make right decisions in life about when and with whom to have sex. It is also best that our children know about safe sex and grow up to be confident and comfortable with the changes they go through as they mature from kids to teenagers through adolescence. This is to protect them from exploitive sex, pregnancy and disease when they are still very young.
So, it is better to avoid beating around the bush and start educating your child about sex. There is no prescribed formula but many doctors and teachers have given good pointers on how to go about doing this . Here are some:
1) It would be good to make your child comfortable so if you have a daughter, it is better that the mother takes up the role and the father can take up the responsibility in case you have a son.
2) You can read a book on human anatomy and reproduction together and answer any questions that they may ask
3) According to the age of the child, you can do the education – it doesn’t need to have explicit details for the little ones but it is better to be clarify their doubts than confuse them
4) The topics of puberty, sex before marriage, sex-related diseases, prostitution , the use of protection can be explained .
5) Sex should not be however described as something dirty or taboo. The emphasis is that it is an act of consensus between very good friends who have decided to spend a lifetime together.
6) Talk to your child about love and friendship, talking, sharing, playing, holding hands and kissing as well as intercourse. Explain to them the difference between consensual sex and rape.
7) If it is still too embarrassing for you discuss with your spouse or friends to find out how they did the teaching.
The television is a big source of distraction for our children. They are attracted by the bright colours and sounds that it captures all their attention. The problem is that they cannot focus on other tasks like doing their homework, art, music, craft and even eating their food.
The main problem is in moderating how much they sit in front of the idiot box. We have numerous interesting programmes for children on Disney channel, National Geographic, Discovery channel, and cartoon channels. Children can learn a lot about science, art, craft and general knowledge through these programmes. But in this process they are glued to the set and miss out on games, books and other activities.
At home, I used to restrict TV time to one hour so that my child could find time for lot of other interesting activities , games, music etc. To encourage this, spending some time together with the child helps as you could do an activity together with them like playing board games with them or building a project together . The purpose it to divert their attention from the idiot box.
Also children should not be allowed to watch shows with excessive violence and unsuitable content. There are also harmful effects of consumerism and advertising that targets children. Children have another bad habit of watching TV from a close range and this significantly increases the risk of myopia. Some children need a snack like potato chips to constantly munch while watching TV and this increases the risk of obesity in children.
This verse by Roald Dahl in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate factory’ just about sums about all what we have said above in a humorous way:
Every time I see a child, I am amazed at their sense of wonder, curiosity and their insatiable thirst for knowledge. Leave a child alone with a toy and he/whe will have a great time…they are so immersed in the moment that nothing else matters. And if you snatch that toy from them, they will scream. Children live with so much energy and vigour that by the end of the day they have a sound sleep.
I think the schools of today make education a boring experience. The rote, bookish knowledge that we gain in schools cannot substitute for life-skills. What use is an education in the classroom if it does not teach us to respect one another, if it cannot teach us basic courtesies, if it does not teach us empathy? What use is such an education if it does not inculcate in us the need to help one another. If all our education is just to get a job and earn a living then I think it does not serve its purpose.
Our education has not found a way of creating a fun environment wherein learning can become an enriching experience. Our classrooms like places of work make it mandatory for children to sit on desks and tables in a classroom. Wouldn’t a colourful place with lot of games, pictures make learning more enriching for children?
Today’s teenagers show total lack of basic courtesies – like offering seats to the elderly or pregnant women. They get involved in gangs and exhibit uncontrollable anger. This can be attributed to the lack of a well-rounded education. Our education has to instill the right values from early childhood. These values have to be reinforced at home too so that it becomes a part and parcel of growing up. If we have not learnt to wish our neighbour, to exchange pleasantries and enjoy living with people of different backgrounds then our education has not served its purpose.
In my view, our education should bring out the leadership quality in us. It should give us
.. the strength to act in accordance with your own values amidst obstacles
.. the sense of what is right
.. confidence and enthusiasm
True education should bring about social cohesion, communal harmony and entrepreneurship spirit. It should help us to unite for a common cause – like the alleviation of poverty, removing corruption and other social ills like gambling and addiction.
Ken Robinson on TED talks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY