Our children study in St. Mary’s ICSE School, Navi Mumbai. In one of the visits to the school, I remember reading a poster :
Love your children and more so when you think they don’t deserve it.
This message made home in my mind and have been thinking about it for a long time.
Isn’t this statement contradictory? Why should children be loved when they don’t deserve it? Let’s see different scenarios between children and parents to understand this.
Child is happy
If the child is happy due to some achievement or recognition, she is in good mood and behaves very well. Any external endorsement or support is not required. But generally we find that we parents reward them with some goodies and children do not mind it. But actually, they have got their own reward in terms of recognition and the happiness that comes along with it.
Child is upset
Now imagine a case wherein the child has had a bad day due to any of the reasons –
- Poor grades in the exam or
- Losing a match/race or
- Fight with someone.
The child is trying to cope up with the situation and is emotionally charged – either on someone else or on herself. She needs some support to come out of this. But generally, we as parents add fuel to the fire. Imagine our statements –
- “If you do this again, then you will have it”
- “You better improve your grades or forget the new PS2”
- “You better work hard and practice for the next race or stop going for the extra class” and so on.
Just step into the shoes of the poor child. She realizes that some mistake has happened.
Children do not need any sermon when they are upset. They only need someone to listen without passing judgements. If parents do not play that role, where would the child go?
This is an important juncture wherein the communication between the child and the parent either blossoms or starts breaking down!
Confidence and self-image
As is written by many experts, the confidence of a person is linked to her self-image, which in turn is based on being felt lovable and capable. In a situation where the child is feeling upset, what would make her feel lovable and capable? This is where the parent and teacher’s role become critical. By being with the child in the toughest time, they can give that boost to the self-image of the child in addressing both these needs.
They can shower the parental love at this juncture and this is where – “Love your children and more so when you think they don’t deserve it” comes into the picture.
On the question of being felt capable, you cannot weave the false stories of capabilities when she has experienced a defeat. However, you can help by acknowledging the existence of that feeling and then let the child come out with the positives or learning from the experience and we as parents can appreciate the efforts being put by her.
As a parents of 2 children, I know that to implement the above is not easy and is a test of patience. But this is the essential role as parents. We have to ensure that our children become ready to face various eventualities, including facing upsets and defeats and still get up to fight again. The ultimate reward for the parents is when our children do this with confidence and keep their self-image intact.