Monday, April 27, 2009

18) Problem-Situations (continued)

"There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist." Mark Twain

If there are young pessimists among us, there is only one direction the finger will point - at their parents. That may seem like a harsh sentence to pass on well-meaning
parents, who have sadly got it wrong. Harsh as it may seem, it is the fact. How do we explain that? Let us do a sample of statements made to children in many homes:
* "Tom, you are not as clever as your brother Pete. So don't try that."
* "Jane, your handwriting is bad. See, how well your sister, Greta, writes."
* "Shirley is strong in Maths. Denzil is rather weak." One mother confides in
another about her two children
* "Your daughter is so cute. I wish mine was half as pretty."
* "You lied again. You are a liar."
* "You dropped the fork. How clumsy!"
Labels like: lazy, clumsy, sloppy, dirty, untidy, dumb, arrogant, spender, miser, are stuck on children.

Parents have no intentions of pulling down their children. All they want is that the child gives up some bad habit; but the method of correction is faulty. Would dad like being unfavourably compared to his more efficient colleagues? How would mum like it if she was compared with her older sister, a mother of four, and labelled as
a 'less caring' mother? When parents dislike being unfavourably compared with others,
why do they inflict such 'punishment' on their children? What they gloss over is that such labels tend to stick; do not come off easily and do damage for life. Like Prophets of Doom, parents write out scripts for children, who stay faithful to such prophecies. Whether it is performance at school, or behaviour at home, 'labels' only drive children away from parents and in turn they give parents the label of being 'unfair'.

Parents need to realize that children look up to parents for good ratings. They treasure the appreciation and praise that parents give them. When they don't get such
encouragement, they turn elsewhere for commendation; even a smile from the school bully is valued. Without fully understanding what they do, parents drain 'hope' out of children, who become the young pessimists we encounter. They have lost hope in themselves; even in their parents and in God.

Setting high standards is good; a must.Pursuing excellence is important. But confusing 'failing' with 'failure' is not wise. Not just the 'result', but the 'effort' and the 'result' have to be appraised. That is what wise parents do. They remind children that 'failing' is part of the learning process. That love for them will not depend on grades they score in school or certificates they get for 'good behaviour'. The most powerful and superior form of love that parents can give a child is to constantly affirm the child's potential and worth, even if current performance is less than expected.

There is one suggestion for parents who are guilty: sincerely apologize to the children for past unfair comparisons and labels, and promise never to repeat such mistakes. Some parents may be shocked at this suggestion. Spare a thought for this
reason: if parents expect children to beg pardon for their mistakes, why should not parents set an example by leading the way through a sincere apology? That would be one way of telling the children that they shun double standards. Once the slate is wiped clean (which the children will like very much), a fresh start can be made.

A Speaker holds up a $50 bill, and asks his audience if they want it. Many hands go up. He crushes the bill and holds it up again.Many still want it. He drops the bill on the floor and stamps on it. Now he holds up the crushed and dirty bill.There are still many takers. Then he poses the question: why? Why do they want a bill that is dirty? He answers the question for them: because the value of the bill is not diminished. It is the same with a child. Even if he is stained with a few dirty habits, his value is not diminished. He is still precious.

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