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An assortment of ideas and thoughts bombarded my mind the minute I heard this question on screen “How would you explain the concept of poverty to your kid?” from the trailer of a Hindi movie. I am not aware of its significance in the movie, but I think that this question needs to be on top of every parent’s questionnaire list for their kids.
More than finding an answer, the solution here would be to find a way to sensitize a human in the budding stage to the various positive and negative aspects of life. Find a way to help the kids build a perception of their own towards the plight of the deprived lot. And most importantly inculcate a habit of acting upon any issue that might come across them and help in however small way possible.
Of course, school and teachers will play a major role here. But how effective would you think few moral stories would be in teaching the kids the extremely complicated topic of empathy? If your answer resonates mine, then you would too start looking for means to develop this emotion in kids early on like I have in the below mentioned points –
Replicate – My phone is now my kid’s to talk, my dresses are hers to experiment with and I know soon my words will be hers too. I have learnt that kids are experts in mimicking their parents. Why not take advantage of this fact and make our actions replicate in them? Showing them our empathy from an early stage encourages them to do the same. Our behavior with our parents, peers and more importantly with the helping hands at home will be role model for our kids. In this way, there is also a bright opportunity for each of us to improve ourselves too. Mutually beneficial. Yes!!!
Discuss – There is an unspoken norm in families about the display of so called unnatural things on TV news channel to children. Though this is acceptable till an age. How long will you keep them away from the truth of the society. It is better to start discussing age appropriate realities happening around us in a fitting manner in front of the young lot. This not only helps them get the right perspective of things but also avoids the confusion they might undergo when they hear about the same from other unreliable sources. It is important for them to know that the world is much bigger than their family and friends and is burdened by both good and bad things.
Criticize – There is no right age to do the right thing. As a child starts to grow, he or she will learn behavioral patterns majorly from people around and will begin to apply them. Any signs of misconduct or disrespect towards any person should be a strict no. Our lenience during early stages may reflect as a sign of approval in children and will encourage them to continue their actions. Parents need to constructively criticize for any sort of inappropriate behavior.
Read – If there is one common thing among all religions, it is to help each other when needed. Our mythological stories are brimming with stories of kindness. This can also be a great and entertaining start for the children to learn about empathy. In fact, any story or incident when expressed in the right way might strike a chord and leave a lesson for life. Is this not one of the main reasons why our childhood was full of stories from our parents and grandparents? Most importantly, never forget to discuss what your kid learnt from a story. This will continue as a pattern and the child will start looking for a moral from every story.
Let me know if there are more ways of teaching our kids the importance of value and kindness in life. You never know, it might serve as an important lesson to us as well.