They say “in a world where you can be anything, be kind”. That should be one of the most important lessons we teach ourselves and our children. “Gen alpha kids learn at a much faster pace than we did as kids. They will no doubt learn topics and things that matter for school and exams. But as a parent, we must ensure empathy, kindness and gratitude is ingrained in them, right from a young age,” reveals Mansi Zaveri, Founder and CEO, kidsstoppress.com, a parenting and child care platform. Parents need to evolve and be the perfect role models children can look up to. Of utmost importance is guiding them to their dream path and allow them to experience those phases of their lives first-hand without being spoon-fed.
Parents’ role in resolving sibling conflicts
The calmer the tone of the parent during their children’s conflict, the faster it will resolve. Taking a deep breath, stretching, drinking water, or moving away from the scene, before engaging, greatly helps. It is equally important to address verbal or physical violence. “No trusted adult can take any sides. Talk less, hear more,” mentions Dr. Aarti Bakshi, Developmental Psychologist and SEL Consultant at SAAR Education.
Role of counsellors in school
The concept behind counselling in school is to address these needs and create an affable environment for each kid. For children, from kindergarten to high school, guidance counsellors help with academic matters, and career concerns, besides personal or social problems. They work as advocates for students and their parents. Sixty-five-year-old Jayanti Padukone, a retired counsellor of a school in Pune, elaborates, “School guidance counsellors are reliable and responsible associates of the administration line-up. We emphasise peer affiliations, active group and social skills, family problems, self-image, self-esteem, and all-inclusive cultural awareness.”
Being imperfect and vulnerable is okay
It is important to share your thoughts and feelings with your kids. The more they see you as someone vulnerable, and real, they are going to bond better with you. This will help them share their feelings with you, in future too. “Sometimes, the notion of perfectionism is overrated, often causing undue stress — to children and adults. Let children know that you are human, you can make mistakes, and you learn from them. We must learn to validate their feelings and see them as individuals so they learn to dole out the same respect later too,” Zaveri points out.
Body image issues, and peer and academic pressure, are common among kids today. According to Suruchi Shah, Bengaluru-based psychology counsellor and Mindfulness Practitioner, “Practising mindfulness, for instance, taking out 10 minutes every day from the academic schedule to reflect and connect with their thoughts and feelings can lead to better mental and emotional health. This can be done through deep breathing, focusing on any object, journaling or meditating. This will also help them deal with negative emotions more effectively.”
Empathetic leaders of tomorrow
Leaders realise their strengths and weaknesses, and set goals, learn from their mistakes. Empathy is the lifeline of emotional intelligence, ensuring happiness. “Empathy is the ability to accurately understand and interpret what someone else might be thinking — draws from our imagination and emotional intelligence,” emphasises Dr. Aarti. A child’s ability to empathise drives brave choices in the face of risks and raises extraordinary leaders. “Listening to children, helping them identify emotions and talk about how they feel is the first step. It helps a child to understand what a character is feeling, to acknowledge others’ emotions and respond appropriately,” Dr. Aarti concludes.
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