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Values & Education

Setting the right example


Children are like wet clay. They mould exactly how you shape them up. If you try to teach them, they may not learn. But they will quickly learn by observing how you behave, and what you speak. They are the keenest observers you will find anywhere.

Even things that you might do absentmindedly or subconsciously will be picked up by their little eyes and ears. That is why it is said, we must be very careful about what kind of an example we might set for our kids with our behaviour. Are we unknowingly teaching them to lie? Are we teaching them to disrespect elders? Are we corrupting their little minds by teaching them to bribe?

A friend complained that her son had started to lie to her. We were discussing about probable influences, checking if the child had any problems that needed to be addressed and so on. Just then her mother in law called her and she replied that she was driving and will call back, when she was in fact not driving!

All this while, the child was sitting with us and I’m sure wondering why it was OK for his mother to lie but not him!

I sent him out on some pretext and pointed that out to the mother. She confessed to doling out these little white lies. Of course I do that too. All of us do. And we might have our reasons. But doing that when kids are around is a big NO. How many times do we blatantly lie in front of our kids! We may have our reasons but kids surely don’t understand these reasons. The message they get is, lying is OK. Of course there may be other influences, at school, at the playground. But when others lie, it just reinforces his belief that lying is definitely OK. My parents lie and so do my friends and almost everyone else, so it is acceptable for me to do so too.

We do that unconscious teaching at every step. When they see us talk rudely to our parents, to the elders at home, to the people on the street and to strangers, that is what they learn. It is OK to be rude. It is OK to disrespect another person. It is OK to jump the queue. It is OK to jump the signal. It is OK because mom and dad do it.

How many times do we bribe the little ones! Eat dinner, and I’ll give you a chocolate. Stop shouting, stand first in class, do the assigned work, listen to your parents, etc. and you shall get something in return. How early on we teach them that we have to bribe others to get our work done! Did you make a promise to someone and forget to keep it? Did you cheat someone or make a fool of someone? Congratulations! You just taught that to your child too!

A couple of my friends argued that parents cannot be wholly blamed for the child’s behavior. He is influenced by his friends in school, by television, the Internet and by watching other people too. He can pick up these unwelcome traits anywhere. True. I will not refute that. But when the foundation at home is strong enough, no outside influence can work its way up to the child’s head.

When the right things get drilled into the child’s mind since the beginning, it unknowingly gets incorporated into his or her way of life. Either they will learn to decide what is right and what is wrong, or will come to you for help. If you are yourself setting wrong examples, you leave the child without a good reference point. Also, what happens outside the home is not under your control. At least you can change what is under your purview at home.

As parents, we are role models for our kids, and they imitate us to perfection. So when we see our little ones grow up and exhibit certain qualities, we shouldn’t be surprised at all! They are after all our handiwork. We were the ones who shaped them up that way.

My name is Shubhangi Srikanth and I write under the pen name Titli. I started my blog “The Little Princess” and it helped me channel my thoughts in the proper direction. After having worked for more than 12 years in the Pharmaceutical and Banking sector, I now freelance as a content writer for medical and health websites. I have two adorable boys, who have taught me more about life than I could teach them. Being a mother is one of the most fulfilling roles of my life, one that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world!