Reeta Gupta writes an open letter to parents on how to encourage children to love themselves and inspire confidence.
Your life is an opportunity to express yourself.
Your child’s life isn’t.
Their life is their canvas to colour. You can provide the tools, the colours, perhaps even point to an inspiration, but what they paint is up to them.
This would probably be the first dictum to swear by, in the tough line that mothers and, of course, fathers, tread between discipline and love.
Parents have the energy of positive intention for their child. The key is to ignite the right emotion, that can you work with, that allows you to transfer your intention for your child, to the actions that the child performs each day.
In order to do this, whenever you speak to your child, ask yourself, “Why am I doing or saying this?”
If the answer is “to encourage your child to love themselves and to present themselves confidently”, then go ahead.
Now, this is difficult to understand, and implement considering the sheer spectrum of parental maturity and the variety of children’s natures.
Even more challenging is the fact that emotions in parenting run high. Stopping yourself and asking yourself questions before you say or do things can be very difficult; you’re in the flow and mistakes will happen.
Here are five ways to put your best foot forward.
Keep busy: Any parent with free time is a ticking time-bomb. You attach all the expectations to your child and sweat the small stuff. From the dress-maker to the kindergarten teacher, everyone seems to be less committed to your child than you; and you end up a quarrelsome or disgruntled parent, who teaches your child that “the world outside is bad”. Now that’s the beginning of looking outwards—how others treat me, will define me. Those are not the emotions to want to instill in your child.
Watch how you speak of them to others: The story you tell about your children, in their presence, to others, will get imprinted in their minds. Make sure you stress on the positives and always find something good to say. Labels like “he simply doesn’t listen” or “she just doesn’t study” are more harmful than you realise. How will they rise beyond labels that are given to them by others, if they don’t have the emotional assurance of mature and unconditional parental love?
Follow a routine: When you emphasise positive routines in your child, make sure you have some of your own too. Children observe far more than they listen. Practice meditation/yoga/some physical activity. Display a commitment to your own body, so you can ask your children to love their own physical person, and honour it with an energetic physiology. Eat healthy, so you can encourage your children to live in healthful ways.
Accept your child fully: There will always be an athlete who finishes second, a student who is happy to be in the top 10 of his class, and pursue a hobby that makes them come alive. Whatever happens, do not compare them with anyone else or their academic achievements. Expose them to different experiences. Your child has a role to play in the universe, and that role will emerge from their proclivities. Trust that and accept them fully.
Stress on values: This is the framework within which your parenting works. Do you drink at home in the daytime? Do you talk about bribes at home? Do you respect your elders? Do you read pirated books or consume pirated entertainment? Do right, so your child can see you doing right.
What you need to remember is that within every youngster in the world is a spark. This spark, when fuelled with the right upbringing and positive self-image, can shine and light up their world. The priorities of our world, such as opportunity for all, and peace, have their roots in our confidence to be able to create a generation of happy, fulfilled youngsters.
So, what are you waiting for?
(Content specialist Reeta Gupta is the author of Rescript Your Life—Awaken The Voice Within, by Rupa Publications.)