Gifting your child ‘Acts’

Noel Manuel

Children are highly perceptive; more to actions and less to words. Actions have an almost instant and immediate effect on the child whereas words take time. The five senses of any child is more receptive to what they ‘SEE’ rather than what they are told.
You can give your child a 2-hour counseling session or for that matter advise students for hours on end on ‘how they should be’ and ‘what they should be.’ But ultimately one wrong misstep or action in the presence of your child or student would literally add fuel to the sixth sense of the child.    

Have we ever figured out what really. goes on in a child’s mind when he or she visually experiences a good-or bad action? The thought process is complex but this does not deter the child from summing up a conc1usion to an event. The conclusion could either enhance the sixth sense - the conscience, or disintegrate it. Every action that a child visualizes results in nourishing or diminishing the’ conscience.

Stephen and Shenalle were married for fifteen years and their love for each other proved eternal. They were the most admired couple and their children belonged to a breed of well-mannered kids. However, over the years the office burden increased and Stephen often had to return home late at night. Torn between his personal and professional life Stephen’s health drastically deteriorated. Stress was soon replaced with alcohol and arguments over petty issues became a routine affair. Children were awakened late at night and actions began to speak louder than words. Expectedly, things reached a point of no return and eventually separation followed. It’s been almost five years now that Stephen and Shenalle are living apart. And though, the good news is that they meet each other quite often these days, trying to reconcile their differences, the bad news is that, Stephen’s eldest son Robert is an alcoholic. Stephen may now tell his son not to drink because it is bad and how it ruined his entire family. But can Stephen really explain how much good the liquor did to him? An act that destroyed the happiness of two generations.

Action speaks louder than words and every action is pivotal to our child’s growth. What our children see is what they learn and what they learn becomes their conscience. Actions that reflect goodness, happiness, togetherness, love and helpfulness etcetera would inevitably nourish and nurture the conscience of our children with the qualities of truth and justice. On the other hand if our children are exposed to violence, unethical habits, unhappiness, hate etcetera then the conscience dies young. A person without a conscience ignores responsibility towards his actions and bears no accountability for what he or she has done. A person with a conscience thinks before he acts and later analyses whether what he has done is right or wrong.

Children are good actors. They can imitate almost anyone in the family. This imitation is more of a result of what they have seen and much less of what they have heard. They can get you hilarious and hysterical with their acts. Just imagine if they were to imitate our real actions that we go about doing daily.

My 9-year-old son Jonathan is a good imitator. He is spider man on one day and Poke mon the other. The influence of television and movies has rubbed off on him and most of his energy is spent on imitating these characters. Of late, I was surprised to see him sporting a new hair - style. It wasn’t difficult to understand that he indeed had copied my hair - style too. Though he looked quite different and not as good as his normal side - parting, it hardly mattered to him. It was both a feat an achievement for him. The fact that he was able to copy me and nurture his conscience made him feel good and proud. I wonder how many unnoticed acts have I committed in his presence, that has either dampened or nourished his conscience. Time will tell, I guess.

In fact to imitate someone demands a special talent and quality. My kids often spend time watching the popular ‘comedy imitation’ anchored by Navjot Singh Sidhu. One evening, after I had completed my teaching sessions I too sat down to watch this serial. It was interesting and humorous. But more captivating was my son’s behavior. At every instance he was able-to identify which, personality was being imitated. This struck me. I thought to myself if my son was able to understand the actions of others so well, how long will it take for him to understand the actions of his own very parents and teachers.

Who says children alone are imitators. Grown-ups are nothing less than kids. Though I am not a Hindi movie buff, while in Delhi, I was invited by my neighbour to watch the popular Hindi block-buster ‘Dhoom.’ At first, I was reluctant to go, for the simple fact that I don’t enjoy Hindi movies. Finally, I gave in. The movie was a good pastime and the motor-bikes eye catching. In the weeks that were to follow, I happened to pass by the cinema hall where I had seen the movie. And there you go, guys sitting outside the parking lot on modified Yamahas, Suzuki’s, and Hondas with dark gogs replicating the main characters in the movie. And mind you, they were really good at the imitating job.

To imitate is very natural. In fact we are gifted with this quality in order to keep our conscience alive. An imitator of good habits and things will always be proud to have kept his conscience alive. While an imitator of bad habits has no reasons to justify his or her actions.

Every father would like his son to step into his shoes. A popular proverb that has invariably been every father’s dream. But realizing this dream has been no mean task. It calls for conscience acts, consistent and tactful behaviour. Every act is as important as any behaviour portrayed before the child. You get angry and the child will sooner if not later get angry too. You get snobbish and the child will replicate the same. You get kind and the child will be helping others even before you can think of it. This is how it works and that is the way things are.

I love watching children imitate some person or thing. It is awesome, particularly when they imitate something good. School concerts had always been an enriching experience for me and mind you no teacher was spared from being imitated. Right from the way they walked to the way they talked and the manner they scolded us. In good spirits, they accepted this fact, knowing fully well that our conscience was being nurtured. They enjoyed it as much as we did. In fact, copying the actions of our parents would be an even more enriching experience. If it were good actions.

I’ve often wondered, how do I get my kids to copy only the good actions of mine and not the bad. You can’t actually do that. It happens so quickly that you hardly get time to think about a good act or a bad act. The situation calls for that and you react accordingly.

A friend of mine was recently boasting about how well he had brought up his kids while deliberately using all the foul language in their presence. It is indeed ironic that people say something and do something entirely else. It is a pity to watch these kids grow up because sooner if not later these kids are going to enact the same way. And mind you it may happen earlier than you expect.

As rightly quoted by Shakespeare, “all this world’s a stage and all men and women are merely actors.” Do we intend raising the finest children on this planet or is it our endeavor to nurture children with no conscience? Our actions speak for themselves and this fact cannot be denied.


The writer is the Coordinator of the Northeast Region (poetry Society of India) and Life Member of the Poetry Society of India. Journalist and Correspondent Eastern Panorama (News Magazine of the Northeast) Phonetics Teacher.