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  Life   More Features  13 Aug 2018  It’s crucial to make your child learn how to handle disappointment

It’s crucial to make your child learn how to handle disappointment

THE ASIAN AGE. | ARCHANA DALMIA
Published : Aug 13, 2018, 12:15 am IST
Updated : Aug 13, 2018, 12:15 am IST

Saving children from the small disappointments in life leaves them unprepared for the larger ones which are sure to hit their paths ahead.

As parents, we must focus on bringing up balanced individuals. For this we need to look inwards and see if we are steady and sorted parents.
 As parents, we must focus on bringing up balanced individuals. For this we need to look inwards and see if we are steady and sorted parents.

These days, the parenting trend is to cotton wrap the children against any knocks in life. Modern thought and modern parents believe competiveness is detrimental to the healthy growth of their child. But, Life is competitive. Even when it is being ‘born’ millions of sperm swim towards the egg hoping to be the one to fertilise it. But, only one makes it. It is the one that has the right motility and the right vitality. It is the one, which can swim the longest and the fastest. It is definitely the strongest. The best one makes the grade and reaches the finishing point and fertilises the egg.

The competition in life begins this early, perhaps even before. Life is Darwinian. It is about the survival of the fittest. Those individuals with heritable traits better suited to the environment will survive. The rest will either perish or subsist.

In a life that is Darwin-ian, is it even possible to protect our children from competition? Of late, modern day parents have begun to wrap their children in cotton wool, protecting them from even the smallest struggles of life.

One of the thoughts is that if children fail at a competition in life they will be disappointed. The other thought is a little more exalted. That the only competition they have is with themselves. While I do agree broadly with the later point, it may not work with kids as it takes a little more life lived and a deeper understanding to figure out what this truly means.

Disappointment? Which aspect of our lives is free of this? Is there even one? Then how can we protect our children from disappointment? They have to learn to keep a disappointment in their stride and strive again.

We must not protect them from this essential part of growing up. They must learn to face it. They have to. Else such stories will abound —

1. A boy is attracted to a girl. She turns his advances down. Crushed with disappointment, unable to face rejection he throws a bottle of acid on her face.

2. Unable to get good marks, disappointed, another child decides life is not worth living anymore... and finds a strong enough dupatta or rope to hang herself with. The horrors are countless.

3. Totally spoilt with easy access to all he has ever wanted, never ever disappointed in life, a school boy cangun down his school principal or whoever he choses to express his anger.

This sort of upbringing is harmful. It’s dangerous for the children. And extremely bad for society.

Talk to a primary school teacher and you will hear her pour out how difficult her job has become. She can’t be strict or excessively firm about anything. She can’t mark red crosses on a homework or assignment that is tardy and can be improved. There are no marks awarded. If a child does not get a favourable, sugar sweet comment, the parents write endless notes about the ‘hurt’ caused to their ward. Any sort of critiquing is forbidden. Saving children from the small disappointments in life leaves them unprepared for the larger ones which are sure to dot their paths ahead. They are not strong enough to take them. Many of them take to substance abuse and many fall by the wayside. We have to teach our children to be strong and to handle whatever comes their way.

If not, we will have a world full of people who are soft not just to touch but in every other way.

Oddly enough the parents who do this cotton wrapping, have reached where they are, only after competing fiercely to get there. They have worked hard to ace examinations and become doctors, successful professionals.They have faced the toughest of competitions — the IIT entrances, the medical college entrances, multiple tough interviews for jobs to get where they are in life.

Only the successful class can afford the luxury of this thought process. The parents who struggle through life are the exact opposite. They teach their children that competition is the only way forward. This also leads to a host of other issues. We must focus on bringing up balanced individuals. For this we need to look inwards and see if we are steady and sorted parents. Do we push our children excessively building pressure — so much that one day they implode? Or do we protect them so much that they are unable to stand on their own two feet as strong citizens of the world? Because life is competitive and there is no escape from this hard fact.

The writer is the chairperson of the AICC grievance cell

Tags: primary school, child learn, modern parents, competiveness, healthy growth