Do you shudder when you come across news items about violence and murder in the name of religions? I do, too. But I believe that our role does not end there. We could be playing our own part (along with our children) in keeping the world peaceful and friendly. We better start off early. How equipped are we ourselves in teaching the child to see things from others’ points of view? We are not perfect beings ourselves, of course, but simply by being a parent or a teacher neither can we afford to be impulsive, reckless or immature. Maybe we could start growing up emotionally and intellectually. With children, I believe that we can start by telling them that they always have choices to make: Depending on the child’s age, we can invite him
to taste different kinds of food ( instead of the over protective strict diet regimen).
to taste the same food in different combination, at different temperatures (hot/warm/cold). Sounds weird? Try all this along with the child- it is pure fun!
to don the role of different characters in the stories that the child is familiar with..
for a day to pretend to be one of the personalities of the biographies that you have read out to him.
to imitate the interesting people that he comes across– the billing staff at the supermarket, a referee at a football match, the waiter at a restaurant, the car mechanic, a teacher, the candy flower seller, a street vendor… The list is endless. Choose one a day at the chosen time. You would thank me for this, I guarantee!
to play ‘watch-the-shadows’ game: everybody knows it, of course. Mark the shadow of the child at different times of the day while he is made to stand at the same spot every session.
to join the religious fasting (if you practice it, that is) occasionally and allow him to empathize with those who starve. Of course, duration of food deprivation depends on individuals.
to list the number of items under the same category. For example, let him enumerate all brands of bath soaps, milk chocolates, television sets, etc. Write them down. Watch the child’s enthusiasm while you jot down!
to join you on your next visit to old age homes or orphanages.
to join you when you visit any ailing relative in the hospital.
to listen to you when you read out simple newspaper items concerning animal welfare or bravery awards, to listen to talk-shows or debates on the television, even though for a short span of time and even to listen to the complaints of his peers and siblings.
While the academics should be ‘ taught ‘ to the child, soft skills like ‘perspectives in life’ can only be experienced and passed on. With your combined efforts , there is a huge possibility of your child enjoying one or more of these wonderful results:
The child learns to see that the choice from a wide variety of the same product caters to people of different needs: We are not a homogeneous crowd, each with individual taste. This concept could be extended to the next stage, to that of biological, ideological, intellectual, spiritual and emotional requirements. The child would respect the others’ privacy and give more space to those who share his life now and later.
The visits to the old age homes, hospitals and orphanages could instill in the child the value of his present blessed life. He also starts to learn what it could mean to be sick or dependent. He gets to feel the joy of giving.
There is every chance that the child as he grows up, would work on bridging the gap between him and elders at home, teacher and his pals.
Needless to repeat that the child is likely to grow up to be a better and responsible citizen. When he grows up, before judging someone’s actions, he would be asking himself: “What are the circumstances that lead him to act this way?” To be aware of ‘perspectives’ is an acquired skill. Improved levels of patience and tolerance come as free bonus! One day, you would be listening to your child telling you, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Take my word!