For parents, it’s a constant struggle to teach their children something new. Children are like clean slates in their formative years. They’ll blindly follow and imitate the adults around them. Hence, as parents or guardians, it’s quite crucial to be the perfect role models for children. To inculcate values and qualities in children — be it kindness, gratitude, honesty, humility, and so on — parents need to show through their actions what it entails.
Being humble is the ability to put others before yourself. But, how do you instil that in children? Tricky and difficult. As I have said in my previous columns, start with yourself. If you want your child to be humble, start by explaining what being humble means. Show the child how s/he can inculcate the quality. Ensure that your child is courteous and respectful towards other people’s feelings. Whether it is listening to what the other person is saying or accepting their opinions, the child should be taught to be polite. Suppose your child gets into a fight with a friend. Don't shout at your child, but ask him/her to consider the reasons why his/her friend could be upset and how your child could have handled the situation better.
That, too, the child will learn from the parent. For instance, be polite when you talk to your child. Don’t be dismissive of his/her opinions. Let the child talk and be expressive. If you cut the child off in the middle of a conversation or taunt him/her or be aggressive, the child will learn to be the same with others. Don’t let that happen, the consequences can be disastrous. Reward them when they deserve it. Encourage them when they do something good.
Give them credit where it is due but also ensure children don’t take advantage of that. Which means you have to teach them to be grounded. Encourage your children to admit to mistakes. Make them understand the importance of saying sorry and asking for forgiveness, which also teaches us humility.
Parents can also tell children stories of great personalities and their work, who help others selflessly. Like I keep telling my daughter stories of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. I tell her how these inspiring women travelled to places and helped the underprivileged or the ones who were in need.
I also feel having gratitude is quite important. Teach them what gratitude means. Make them understand that they should be grateful for the good things they have and not feel privileged. Start with small things like having them say a small prayer at the dinner table or just say ‘thank you for the food’. That will also teach them to be grateful for what they have and not take the food for granted. Tell them that not everyone is lucky enough to get proper meals and, hence, we must express gratitude for what we have.
Teach them to share their things with others. Instead of throwing away their old toys or clothes, show them how they can be of help to others. For example, on my daughter’s birthday, we send a cake to the orphanage. My daughter has become so used to this that now she is equally involved and always asks what we are sending this year. She wants to share the happy occasion with other children.
Parents want their children to do better in life, academically and otherwise. And, for that to happen, parents must ensure that their children are receiving the correct guidance.
(Riddhima Kapoor Sahni is a fashion and jewellery designer, and daughter of veteran actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor)
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