Gifting your child ‘messages’

Noel Manuel

Positive messages are a powerful anecdote to developing a positive outlook in life. You can enhance almost any quality you want in your children or students when you find it and face it with appropriate messages. Do you intend gifting them patience, responsibility, care and love?    
A lady walks into my office at the end of the academic year and embracing all her fears smiles at me and asks, Sir, has my daughter passed or failed. I looked at her and said, have you asked your daughter this question? Yes, the lady said, I have asked her and she is confident that she has not only passed but also done extremely well.

The question of whether a child has ‘passed or failed’ fuels much negativity in the child’s mind. In fact, the more appropriate question here could have been ‘How well has my daughter done?’ Nobody fails in life; everyone succeeds. What sets them apart is how well they succeed.

Some Parents and teachers are so docile. They govern a situation without giving much thought to the impact it has on the child’s life. There are only two kinds of messages that we can give our children. Negative messages that diminish their potential and talent or positive messages that reinforce their talents, capabilities and possibilities.

My son an eighth grader hadn’t done too well in his first and second term examinations. His chances of moving to the next class looked grim. He was remorse and the outcome could easily be speculated. Nonetheless, he continued to toil as the dates of the final examinations approached. One night, some murmuring disturbed me. I awoke and found my son busy studying. Beside him there was a paper, which read, ‘The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept were toiling onwards into the night. ‘My son got through the examinations and is now in the ninth standard. A simple yet powerful message.

You can either hurt your child when he does something awful by reminding him what a good-for-nothing he is or empowering him by letting him to take charge of the situation with your guidance. A simple message becomes our children’s truth and that truth becomes their self-esteem. And that self-esteem governs their entire lives, their satisfaction, their success and their joy.

So much of our energy is spent on parenting and the upbringing of children without us waking up to the fact of whether our skills are actually moving backward or forward. How often have we used the term ‘no’ ‘never’ ‘don’t’ ‘can’t’ in our effort to safeguard our children from harmful habits and things against their interest? It is very natural that we use such terms to protect them and the results we get are almost spontaneous. But ultimately, it is the long-term effects that slowly emerge.

My kids love playing cricket and their passion for the game had got so intense that their strokes proved to be powerful and expensive. The neighbours complained of broken panes and a request soon followed to abort the game. There were two options that lay before me. ~Don’t play’ and they obviously were going to obey the command or play the game but at the ‘RIGHT PLACE.’ Soon they were talking about winning matches with other teams and a match schedule is always in place for the weekends.

Children around the world are like plasticine with different colours that can be moulded into the most beautiful objects of desire. Remember every interaction with children has an outcome, which can be ins1m1tor distant. A bonsai plant when first planted does not gather much attention until it is a fully-grown tree. But the effort that goes into making the plant so unique is painstaking. There are a number of materials and techniques that are applied at the right time and right proportion to supplement this growth. Children are similar to this experience and ‘messages’ are pivotal to their overall growth and development. The material called ‘messages’ needs to be applied using the right technique at the right time and in the right proportion.

Schooling days are hard to forget. In fact our English teacher was so efficient that the class fell for her-hook, line and sinker. Her teaching skills were unquestionable and her kind attitude was most adorable. Her classes were generally nicknamed as ‘toilet classes.’ Students used to go to the toilet in groups of two’s and three’s. We often heaved a sigh of relief to get out of the classroom and walk around brazenly in the corridors with students from other classes looking on in admiration. In fact to go to toilet was only an excuse to find a breather.

During a recent visit to Kolkata, I accidentally ran into our English teacher at the popular Hogg Marke.t Though she found it hard to recognize me after almost two decades, I just couldn’t forget her. I reminded her of who I was and after much discussion during the surprise reunion, I made particular reference to the ‘toilet classes. ‘She remarked by saying, my son those were not ‘toilet classes,’ but instead ‘teaching classes. ‘Every time I allowed you to go to the toilet I was gifting you a message - a message on patience, responsibility, care and love?

Never had I known or realized that my teacher was gifting me a message with far reaching effects even when I thought that going to the toilet was an excuse to get out of class for a breather. Truly, a teacher both within and outside the classroom. A simple message can empower our children.

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.