In the gruesome murder of the young primary school boy in a Gurgaon school, the CBI has now found that it was not the school conductor that killed the boy but an 11th Standard boy of the same school! Reason? He wanted to postpone the exams and the parent- teacher meeting!
When the child was murdered it was schools that bore the brunt of anger, mistrust from parents. Now if this new truth is out, whom do we blame? The parents? The school? Or both?
Lets remember it takes a village to raise a child. Parenting and education should be equally responsible for how our children turn out to be as adolescents and future adults. But sadly today parents and schools are each at opposing ends with mistrust between them. Both should ideally work together, hand in hand to ensure the safety, security, and holistic development of each and every child.
What has led to this huge rift between two of the most important pillars in a child’s life? Somewhere parents are not taking their role as parents seriously and expect the school to do parenting and education and somewhere the schools are not educating parents about their role and are unable to support both children and parents in understanding challenging behavior or lack of performance. Parent teacher meetings have become a farce and a bane for children as both the teachers and parents blame them and no one has any solution to support them.
Parents and schools should be focused on inculcating essential socio-emotional life skills like sympathy, empathy, honesty, conscience but are busy teaching and focusing on academic performance….academic performance at any cost…
This is where the root cause of the problem ailing our youngsters lies, they have no moral compass, no sensitivity towards others. This murder is not the only case that has happened in recent years, Two boys kill their grandmother for her cash and jewelry, as they had to pay some betting debts. A young boy plots and kidnaps his cousin, who is then killed for ransom money to fulfill gambling debts. Both these are real life cases- recent cases that have shocked everyone. There are hundreds of such cases where young adolescent boys from so called ‘safe happy, well educated and well to do families’ are committing such heinous crimes.
My question, didn’t the parents know their kids? Were they unable to see this coming? Were they never aware of such deadly ideologies lurking in their kid’s personalities? All these kids started as innocent young boys, so then when did they cross over? Why did not their parents notice it in their talks, discussions, or behavior? It went unnoticed and then it was too late.
Most Parents and schools rarely talk to kids - they only lecture them! Most parents and schools rarely discuss, instead only question them. Most parents and schools try to change behaviors of kids only by threats, bargaining and bartering. Such kids behave well in front of their parents, but are completely opposite in their absence.
Moral values, morality, ethics, and truth are qualities that are not nurtured in our kids today. Parents focus more on excelling and succeeding, at any cost and buy their kids ‘co-operation’ with materialistic bribes. Thereby, nudging their kids towards a lifestyle and mindset that focuses on material gains at any cost.
Motivation is extrinsic, behavior is extrinsically controlled, and nothing is intrinsic any more in our kids. They have lost their ‘moral compass’ usually called the conscience because it was never awakened, they never saw it being used, talked about, or practiced.
Parents must learn from Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket. Pinocchio had a quirk, every time he would tell a lie - his nose would grow longer. Learning from Pinocchio, parents must observe their kids from childhood – only then they would know exactly when their child is lying, hiding things from them, or just being secretive or evasive. Some kids fidget, some don’t look you in the eyes, some start clutching their hands and some lose appetite when they are breaking a rule. It’s easy to spot if you know your child and this is important for parents because just teaching about rules is not the goal. Ensuring that your child wants to follow the rules and equipping your child with ‘something’ that would make your child aware when he is breaking the rules. This ‘something’ for Pinocchio was Jiminy Cricket, his conscience. So, similarly till your child develops his conscience you will have to be his Jiminy Cricket and guide your child. Be an alert parent, be there as a guide and mentor not a police officer.
Being your child’s Jiminy Cricket, teach your child how to think through problems and how to select the right from the wrong even when the wrong looks right at that moment. Teach your child decision making under stress. Teach your child how to counteract temptation, bullies and more. Be open to your child asking questions. To know what your child thinks, play ‘what if’ games with your child and you will know whether your child is a pessimist, an optimist, or a dreamer, who will get carried away.
In the above cited crimes had the boys thought through their actions, they would have realized that committing the crime was not the easy way out. Instead confessing to their parents would have been the better path to take. In their wrong decision and choice they have now landed in jail. So when you read about such crimes, talk to your kids and discuss with them, ‘where do they think the boys were wrong’, ‘what would you have done differently if you were in their place’.
It’s time to give kids a healthy upbringing, it’s time to discuss with our teenagers why the murder happened, and it’s time to understand from teenagers why they think the murder happened. This may help us understand the mental health of our kids and help us shape them better. It’s time to give good role models to kids. It’s time to understand the temperaments of our kids and help shape and guide them accordingly. There is a lot that parents and teachers can learn from the work of Rudolf Steiner (German Philosopher and Educationist and founder of Waldorf schools) and if one refers to what Rudolf Steiner says, we can understand that shaping our kids mental health is in our hands, we can choose to nudge them to success or push them over the brink to destruction, both self and that of others.
Steiner says that children have different temperaments and teachers and parents should know these otherwise there are chances that we as adults would drive them to extreme behavior as a result of mismanagement of their temperaments. The four temperaments are-
- Is a temperament whose attention and interest is not easily aroused, though once attention is aroused they are strongly persevering.
- Melancholic children require sympathy, empathy, and respect from adults.
- When melancholic children are not nurtured as per their temperament needs then chances are that these kids will display extreme depression and the very extreme forms of behavior noticed in this temperament is delusions and melancholia.
2 2. Phlegmatic:
- Is a temperament whose attention and interest is least easily aroused, and even when attention is aroused they are least strongly persevering.
- These kids require constant interaction with adults.
- When phlegmatic children are not nurtured as per their temperament needs then chances are that these kids will display extreme disinterest and the very extreme forms of behavior noticed in this temperament are imbecility and idiocy. ·
- Is a temperament whose attention and interest is most easily aroused, and these kids are most strongly persevering.
- These children require firm authority and challenges
- When choleric children are not nurtured as per their temperament needs then chances are that these kids will display uncontrollable temper and the very extreme forms of behavior noticed in this temperament are fanaticism and mania.
- Is a temperament whose attention and interest is easily aroused, though they are not able to sustain it as they have little strength of perseverance.
- To handle them we need to discover their interests and then occupy them with it/through i.
- When sanguine children are not nurtured as per their temperament needs then chances are that these kids will display character instability and the very extreme forms of behavior noticed in this temperament are lunacy and insanity.·
The above is just one example of understanding that temperaments in children can be different and will require different handling. We need to change the face of parenting and teaching in this country, we need to educate the adults about life skills and how to inculcate them in children and to do that we need to understand children, their minds, their moods and their mindsets. And if required to seek professional help from mental health experts immediately.
To stop a repeat of such incidents from happening we need to teach kids to empathize, think, and learn to use logic with emotions and to do all that we need to first learn about empathy, sympathy, love and logic.
Every child has beauty and a beast in its personality. It is up to us as parents whether to use the beast in us and try to get the beauty in them and fail or alternatively, use the beauty of our parenting techniques and tame the beast in our kid’s personality and bring out the beauty.
Dr.Swati Popat Vats