My faith on kids has not deterred in worst of the situations but the recent events unveiled how muffled are the kids psychologically. It was reported that a child of a school was allegedly involved in a heinous crime just because he was worried about his examination and subsequently the result as he thought that he was not well prepared for the same. I do not know what the truth is but there are a number of cases reported almost on regular basis where the children do not accept NO from anybody and fear of failure drive them towards not good things. Such issues raise a lot of questions. The responsibility, dignity and ethics on which an educational institute should work are questioned. A lot of fingers are pointed and answers demanded. Discussions and interpretations are pouring in and yet somewhere there is emptiness. The fact remains, that the child who lost his life was innocent and his demise has created a void in the life of his parents which probably would never be filled.
The children who are innocent in their thoughts and actions with all pious feeling towards others are ‘made to’ behave in a manner which is not approved by anyone in the society. ‘By whom and why’ is the question to be answered, if we have to save our children from getting trapped in something which may force them into an inevitable and difficult situation. I must strongly state that I am in no way exonerating the kids involved in some violent or hate acts or trying to reduce the intensity of their crimes. All I am trying to do is to give tongue to the fear that now fills our hearts. Are there more kids who might be involved in some crimes? Are they around us? Are they the best friends of your kids? Are they sitting, eating, and talking to your kids every day? ..... OR, is your kid so psychologically drained that he could be one of them? I know these are uncomfortable questions and I ask them to make you uncomfortable.
Any act of violence or theft etc. raises so many questions on parents, teachers, school administration and the education system as a whole. Who is responsible? The kid who commits the crime? Yes, definitely. But along with him the parents, teachers and school stands shamefaced. One would call me inconsiderate here that I am taking away the toil, love and patience the parents and teachers give to a child but the need of the hour is to find the loopholes. I think many of us are not teaching the kids to accept FAILURE and are not inculcating in them the tolerance and the capacity to hear NO.
As parents at times, we try to hide our child’s mistake and cover for them, which indirectly make the child feel that how significant it is to be flawless. As teachers we celebrate and appreciate achievements and many a times punish and humiliate kids for something not done right by them. We never let the children feel that mistakes are a part of life and one should be learning lessons from the same and avoiding the repetition of such mistakes. This is something that needs to be taught.
No can sting but it’s a part of life and kids should be made patient and strong enough to tolerate it. Children should be made to understand that it is ok to feel disappointed when you hear a No. They must be explained that there isn’t any good in holding grudges and taking revenge because in this way you are wasting your precious time pining upon lost opportunities and neglecting the available ones. A clear ‘no’ or in some cases blunt criticism can perturb anyone so it’s important that the child learns to take criticism in a healthy and positive manner. Children should be taught to:
Ø Listen to criticism and understand where they made a mistake. Own up to their mistakes without shame and fear to try to overcome them and move further instead of living in guilt and fear
Ø Ask questions from the critic for self improvement
Ø Take initiative and help from family, teachers and friends to not repeat the same mistakes
Ø They must know that NO is also important and everything may not be made available to them as and when they want.
This could only be executed successfully if we as teachers and parents learn to embrace our kids and let them know their faults in a positive manner seeking improvement not their humiliation.
The psychological counselor Eve Menezes Cunningham talks about the importance of saying no. "Children, like adults, need boundaries. If they don't hear 'No' and honor it, how will they not overstep others' boundaries - and set strong enough boundaries when others are not honoring them?" It was in the news a few weeks back that when a child was denied a badminton racket by his mother he tried to burn himself. A student was fought happy with his classmate just because he did not share his lunch box with him. There have been number of cases shared in which children ask for motorbike etc and when told NO stop eating food or run away till their demand is met. These are the cases where their demands were always met but when said NO this is the response. When a child makes an unfair demand the parents and teachers should say a firm NO but they should go ahead and give the reason behind it too. “It turns out that saying no pays off far beyond avoiding raising spoiled kids. When we always yield to our children’s wants, we rob them of the opportunity to find solutions by adapting what they already have. Kids who learn from denial realize at an early age that they won’t always have the perfect tool for every job.”
This brings me to another major issue which is the inability of the child to accept failure and move on. How many times do we say to our kids that:
“If you are not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you are not doing anything innovative.”
“When you are losing it can seem like there is a black cloud following you around, but remember there is a silver lining in every dark cloud.”
“One can fail many times but he isn’t a failure until he gives up.”
“Failure is the mechanism of leaning.”
“Failure is not fatal. Success is not final.”
With these lessons which motivate students to accept failure we need to understand that students will not accept failure if they do not know the art of bouncing back from failure. Failure and disappointments are really inevitable when we are in pursuit of what we want to achieve. “The simple truth is – no great success was ever achieved without failure. It may be one epic failure. Or a series of failures – such as Edison's 10,000 attempts to create a light bulb or Dyson’s 5,126 attempts to invent a bagless vacuum cleaner. But, whether we like it or not, failure is a necessary stepping stone to achieving our dreams.”
We need to help them develop a perspective, to take stand for the right. This righteousness should not be based on what society thinks is right. They should be groomed in a way that they wouldn’t be able to sleep with a guilty conscience. This will happen when they will be encouraged to make choices in difficult situation. Failing in an exam doesn’t make one loser but giving up and submitting to wrong means does.
I would conclude with these lines for the teacher, parents and kids, “Failure and No should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. No teaches us to understand our limits and boundaries so that we can respect the boundaries of others.”