By Kuhoo Gupta
To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society. – Theodore Roosevelt
Recently, the Madurai High Court Bench emphasised the need for moral education for children, both at school and home. This moral education spun at home is intricately linked with a conscience. So, what is conscience? It is the blend of morality, self-awareness, and self-analytical ability that separates rationality from blind belief or rage.
Moral empathy vs digital
Children from the age of 0 to 7 years are highly malleable and their sub-conscious is heavily influenced by life experiences which are majorly dependent on their parents. However, being a role model in today’s age is double the challenge, thanks to the exposure of digital platforms which makes children susceptible. Children today are exposed to digital media before they are even born, with their parents using digital media during the gestation period.
However, that is just the start of the digital infiltration which affects the way a child thinks and reacts. Thanks to the constant viewing of the screen, the ability to feel and respond in real time takes a beating as the brain is aware that it is the virtual world. This virtual connection cuts the link between real-life empathy, blurring the lines between what is right and wrong. Though digital is not all bad and does create a medium of engaged learning, it is always a big no-no for children under two years and should be allowed in moderation for other children.
How parents can help germinate conscience
Parents are role models. There is no denying that a child learns first in his home and then steps into school. Therefore, it is imperative that adults pay attention to their behaviour around the child. For that, they need to get rid of negativity that can impact their communication. Granted that adulthood comes with its own set of challenges, but efforts should be made in keeping a negative atmosphere at bay when around a child.
Parents must form a strong bond with their children and communication is the key element that effectively reinforces this connection. A child should be able to talk to his/her parents who will help them understand the nature of their actions. For instance, if they are taught that cyberbullying is wrong or hurting someone physically or emotionally is not the act of a virtuous person, they will think twice about taking that action. The conscience will be at work here, telling them this is wrong. The spiritual path is a constant guiding light in a child’s heart but setting them in that direction is the job that parents have to fulfill for the betterment of their children.
The early rectification is especially important because as they grow into teenagers, children learn from their own decisions and mistakes. It is important to give them controlled freedom to make choices, fail and learn. Children have a safety net in their parents and can learn lessons for the future when they may not be around. Any experience of the child becomes a part of him. Almost in all cases, these habits, belief systems, traits continue for life. So this is an apt time to inculcate good values. But the first step to do that is to raise your own awareness as a parent, heal your emotional wounds and become more conscious.
The right path to growth
A parent can love the child unconditionally and accept them wholeheartedly, sans any judgment. After all, a child with great self-esteem and self-love quotient, who is also empowered with a spiritual practice, is not vulnerable to bad decisions.
The initial stages are meant to provide unconditional love and acceptance right from the pregnancy stage. This will give them a strong foundation of great self-esteem and self-love. Keeping the parent-child relationship as a bidirectional one instead of hierarchical is important to remain connected so that when the child grows up, it is easy to step in if we need, to maintain their conscience.
Above all this, the most important thing is to grow, evolve and heal personally as an individual for the parent to set the right role model for the child in a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and psychological sense.
(The writer is founder of The K Junction.)