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The world is not always fair to your child. As a parent, it is important to recognise that and make home the one place where she is fully listened to and respected.
It was 7.45 AM and a pleasant morning, as my daughter and I sat in her school reception, waiting for the clock to turn eight, for the school door to open. In another couple of minutes, little tots and parents filled the reception hall. Giggles, laughter and screams filled the air. It was bliss to watch the kids running around with so much energy and happiness. It was a scene to cherish, I should say.
However, in a matter of seconds, my spirits dropped, as I saw my daughter (6 years old) being ‘intentionally ignored’ by two of her friends of the same age. I saw that the other two girls had a reading book, which they held very close to their faces, so that my daughter would not be able to see it. My daughter kept insisting that they show it to her. However, they refused to show it and continued to laugh as they buried their faces in the book. Despite this, my daughter continued to stand near them.
As I saw my daughter leaning on the wall, with a gloomy face, exhibiting both the ‘dejected‘ and ‘wanting to be included’ face, my heart sank. I was angry and confused and didn’t know what I should do. I felt furious and thought, how can they treat my daughter like this and be so mean? I wished I could take my daughter away from this cruel world and keep her safe with me, so that she will never get hurt.
Following this incident, I was so upset with the entire scenario, that my mind went nuts. My mind kept circling around the incident, as I kept trying to figure out, how can I help my daughter on this? I thought of informing the teacher and then realised that I could not take up such a trivial issue. They are all little children and this is a common scenario. They will play, fight and embrace each other. This had happened when I was a kid too and I knew that nothing out of the world has happened.
They will play, fight and embrace each other. This had happened when I was a kid too and I knew that nothing out of the world has happened.
Despite of all the above, I couldn’t accept the fact that my child’s emotions can be hurt in her school. I was not able to comprehend why it was bothering me so much. I was not sure why I was not able to accept this. I was desperate for an answer. This incident hurt me to such an extent that I couldn’t think about anything else.
As I pondered on this deeply, I realised that despite knowing the truth, I chose to keep myself blind on a few realities; I occupied my mind with shallow assumptions, rather than to accept the real facts. A little groundwork made me understand that I have overlooked a few crucial factors. The following are few, which I have listed out at a very high level.
Assumption: I have put my kid in a reputed school and she is part of the school’s extended day program as well and she is 100% safe and happy. All she is going to do is study, play, run around, giggle, laugh, eat and have fun.
Reality: I didn’t give a single thought or to be very honest, I refused to accept the fact that there will be situations and elements which will hurt my kid’s emotions irrespective of the super-luxurious school she is in. The first class school provides good infrastructure, safety, proficient teachers, good education, excellent morality, extra –curricular activities. But availing all these facility doesn’t always mean that our kids will experience only happiness.
Assumption: If my kid is physically hurt or not feeling well, she will be looked after in no time. Sufficient facilities are available inside the school campus.
Reality: Physical hurt is not the only mishap that our kids go through. They are hurt emotionally as well. In fact for the 6 to 8 hours they spend in school, they go through umpteen emotional challenges. As much as they are loved, pampered, cherished they are also snubbed, ignored, teased, victimised, not-accepted etc.
Assumption: There is only fair treatment, irrespective of all the differences.
Reality: I refused to accept that kids will be categorized ; The Gorgeous – The Ugly ; The Studious – The average ; The Creative – The Copycat ; The Bold – The Shy ; The noisemaker – The Quiet ; The well behaved – The trouble maker ; The Strong – The sick ; The Bully – The Sober ; The Rebel – The Obedient ; etc. As a parent each of us will know the endless list of categories our kids fall into. Regardless of of all the attempts that are taken to keep uniformity amidst the kids and treat them equally, we somehow contribute to this categorization, intentionally or unintentionally. And yes, our kids go through these tag names with a mix of both good and bad side-effects, which in turn has a huge impact on their emotions.
Assumption: The teachers’ attention is going to be on my kid one hundred percent. She is monitored in and out, she is pampered, helped and motivated whenever and wherever it is required.
Reality: We all know that every teacher has to handle at least 20 to 30 kids at a minimum. It is no simple deal. Every teacher tries their best to help each little one; however, the attention is never going to be 100%. In the combination of- kids who respond, kids who run around and kids who sit idle, where our kid fits in always matters. Not all kids are the teacher’s pet.
Assumption: Oh, my kid enjoys the play time!
Reality: As much as our kids enjoy play time, they face competitions and missed-out situations. We have to understand that play time in school is a different ball game from play time when the parents are around . Have we realised that our kid may be rejected by her group of friends during play time, just because they feel that she doesn’t fit?
She may not be given or may not be able to acquire her spot in the slide or swing or merry go round or see-saw. The toys or game boards may not be shared.
Assumption: She has best friends. She has friends to play with, go for lunch, to do activities, to talk, to hang around etc.
Reality: Not always. There are days, where our kids have friends and there are days where they are left out to deal with things alone.
This list of assumptions against reality with regard to our kid’s time in school will be endless. As parents, we hardly have 3 to 4 options to know what is happening in the time that is spent inside the school:
Honestly, we don’t get an accurate picture from any of the above.
Kids will try to give the actual picture if parents are accepting and accommodative. But, how many of us can achieve that? Parents in many cases are reactive, judgemental and fast to help. On top of this, parents mainly appreciate accolades, achievements, success stories and happy stories. The way we react and judge their narrative on happenings of them getting hurt or mis-doing something scares them and slowly, they learn to hide it from us.
The way we react and judge their narrative on happenings of them getting hurt or mis-doing something scares them and slowly, they learn to hide it from us.
Teachers mostly provide inputs on the best behaviour of the kid and the improvement areas.
The time spent in the school with kids while dropping or picking them up, at times reveals the exact picture and most of the times, it does not.
So, what do we do about this? How can we provide solace for our beloved kids? How can we help them?
This awareness will remove the shells covering our eyes and give a clear picture of our kid’s day out. The more we accept the above facts, the more it will enable us to be mindful and deliberate about the way we treat them. We will learn to accept our kid’s difficulties, their crankiness, their sudden gloomy moods and their behaviours. Instead of lecturing and punishing them, we will learn to listen to them and enable them to deal with the situations.
Enable the kids to talk and enable yourself to listen
Let’s learn to listen to our kids and enjoy their narratives. We all know listening to the kids is no easy task, that too in the midst of our multiple ‘priority’ activities. We have to etch it in our hearts that ‘Listening’ is the key stone. The more we cultivate the habit of conversation and entertain it in our day to day life, the more we will get a picture about the kid’s journey. Encourage the conversation to be plain, simple and honest. Do not interrupt or correct them and do not ask questions frequently. Instead, let them know that you are interested in their conversation. Establish that trust. Just listening to their conversation with a simple Oh, Is it? , Really, that’s nice, that’s sad, Ahh, mmm..Hmmm etc. is all they want.
Don’t rush to give them solutions. Encourage them to deal with the situations and find out their own solutions.
Don’t rush to give them solutions. Encourage them to deal with the situations and find out their own solutions. Encourage them to stand up for themselves, speak up for themselves, ignore stuff that hurts them, flag it to the teachers in necessary places etc. This will encourage them to express themselves rather than subsiding within.
Trust me, this is a mammoth tasks which demands Patience in all 360 degrees. But the outcome and dividends we get out of this investment cannot be measured and my daughter has surprised me many times, when I just listen and let her take her own decisions to sort out the situation that she is complaining about. Whatever the issue is, I don’t let her do it if I jump in to comfort her and give her the solution or judge her and reprimand her too fast. However, I am trying my best to improve on this.
Let’s make ‘The Home’ their solace
Last but not the least: ‘Home should be our kids’ solace’.
Yes, let’s make our home the solace for our kids. From the age of 4, our kids start to spend most of their non-sleeping hours in schools. In the case of working parents, the kids start their day out a little earlier. We all know that irrespective of all the assurances we get with regard to our kid’s goodness, no one can guarantee us on their emotional chart.
The one and only place we can assure that their emotions are respected and treated well is the place called ‘Home’ or the time they spend with the parents. This is the only place in the whole world, where we can assure that they are respected, treated kindly, made to feel included, listened, accepted not only for their goodness and greatness but also for their imperfections and flaws.
This is the only place in the whole world, where we can assure that they are respected, treated kindly, made to feel included, listened, accepted not only for their goodness and greatness but also for their imperfections and flaws.
Doing this benefits not only the kid, but also establishes a wonderful trust-worthy relationship between the kids and the parents which will return in multiple folds in the long run. Any good output will demand a deal of hard work. Yes, it’s a massive undertaking which requires lots of patience and empathy.
I have started this exercise very recently and realised how much I have been playing with the emotions of my daughter, though not consciously. So, I have started to incorporate being rational and sensible, which is indeed a difficult task. I do know I have a long way to go. However, I am glad I have started it.
In this challenging world, with all the demands that our kids have to undergo every second of their lives, let’s ensure that we the parents stand as their solid support and trust them and enable them and respect them in all walks of life. Let’s not put that trust on a third party like schools, nannies, grandparents etc. It is our responsibility; our prime Obligation.
A big round of applause for the wonderful parents who are doing this grand job already. Amateurs like me, let’s giddy up. Cheers!
Image of little girl courtesy Shutterstock
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