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A mind-opening treatise on an all-time important issue
By: Mrs. Tina Olyai, Director
Little Angels High School Gwalior
The Place of Emotion in a Child¶s Life
Children are living embodiments of µemotional vibrations¶. They are full of those subtle energies of God and Mother Nature that reflect in tenderness of heart, hopes for the best, appreciation for the beautiful and an everexpanding heart for embracing all that is great and good. We must be respectful to a child's emotion, listen to him or her, and care for their psychological and spiritual needs. If we ignore this emotional aspect, the result will be leaving a callous, cruel, terror-stricken, abnormal, and depressed child in this world.
In brief, by not attending to the emotional needs of a child we will be committing a sinister act.
It is extremely difficult to teach the individual and refine his character once puberty is passed. «. it is in early childhood that a firm foundation must be laid. While the branch is green and tender it can easily be made straight. Abd¶ul-Baha
In a famous story of Leo Tolstoy, a certain king was curious to know the answer of three questions. But for this presentation, I have to ask you only TWO
1. Are we building a capacity for social change with our new generation? 2. Are the children being prepared to be the adults necessary for transforming this world for the better?
If your answer is µNo¶ «. I add one
WHAT IS, THEN, THE PURPOSE AND DUTY OF EACH HUMAN BEING IN THIS CREATION OF GOD?
This vital question cannot be answered by our own vain imaginings or fallible teachings of any man. The answer is given in the unfailing guidance of BAHA¶U¶LLAH ± the Messenger of God for this age.
All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. «. everA new life is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth; and yet none hath discovered its cause or perceived its motive.
It¶s clear then that our role as a parent is to nurture our children in a manner that they become worthy citizens of tomorrow ± morally sound, spiritually enriched, reflecting highest possible qualities «.. so that they, too, in their turn, can further contribute to the advancement of human civilization.
Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. - Tagore
THIS IS WHAT WE DO BY EMOTIONAL PARENTING
No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.
- Emma Goldman
ELEMENTS OF EMOTIONAL PARENTING
The term EMOTIONAL PARENTING means realizing the fact, as said Dale Carnegie, that every human being is first of all an emotional creature. So is a child. Emotional parenting covers a wide area of moral, spiritual and psychological issues. However, its main elements can be listed as follows:
Understanding the child Giving space Agreement between Parents Habit forming Faith and Patience Setting the example Putting God first
There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child; there are seven million. - Walt Streightiff
Children are engaged in a continuous process of learning about themselves and their world. To understand them is, basically, to watch this process of transition in them; rather help in this process of transition. What are their needs? What are their value systems at different ages? What are children's skills and abilities at different ages? What are their reading interests? Many things need to be understood in order to understand a child well.
Abraham Maslow, an educationist, identified five levels of basic human needs that reflect even in children ± (1) aesthetic, (2) physical and safety, (3) belongingness, (4) love, and (5) self-esteem.
(1)Aesthetic ± A child reflects a natural appreciation for what is
beautiful and attractive - a divine quality instilled by Mother Nature. BEAUTY is an essential ingredient in a child¶s rearing.
(2)Physical and Safety ± A child completely depends on
his/her parents for his or her physical well-being and safety needs. Neglecting this vital emotion is detrimental.
(3)Belongingness ± A child has an prominent emotional
desire to belong to his/her parents and ambience. Any feeling of separation will be harmful.
(4)Love ± This is another pressing need of a child and, in fact,
all human beings, neglecting which is bound to create perversion, depression and all negative traits.
(5)Self-esteem ± Contrary to our popular belief, a child has
more sense of self-esteem than in elders. Rebuking and abusing them will destroy their inner personality.
Parents often tend to overprotect their children. While it is very important to look to their safety and even help in their decisionmaking, they also must be given valid freedom in petty matters. Developing this attitude towards them makes them feel trusted by their parents, enhances decision-making and leadership qualities in them and promotes a healthy emotional bond between parents and children.
Though we must attend to the safety needs of a child, It
is through giving valid space that we help in developing their decision-making capacities.
Only a child who enjoys valid liberty can develop into a
creative human being ± a scientist, an artist, a leader, a reformer, and so on.
Giving space also builds a relationship of trust
between the child and the parent.
Psychologists have concluded that the terrorists,
fascists and dictators who µtyrannized¶ this world were themselves deprived of genuine freedom and were not given space in their childhood to vent their feelings.
Giving space is to obey the law of nature. Even a bird,
soon after giving birth to a fledgling, allows it gradually to flutter its wings in the sky.
A balance between freedom and safety
In terms of EMOTIONAL PARENTING, giving space is a balancing act of freedom and safety. It is to understand that a child needs love, trust, and respect. « However, a loving parent who allows the child to do nearly anything isn't providing a framework where the child will be safe. Once a child is of a certain age, communicating in a loving manner what is and is not expected of them begins to build respect and trust in the relationship. That communication comes from the parent, but it is also important for the parent to allow the child to share their emotions and thoughts, to a certain extent, such that they feel heard. "I understand that you like jumping up and down on the couch because it is fun, but you can slip and hurt yourself. Here are two other things you can do´.
Agreement between parents
A house divided among itself cannot stand. If mother and father have no mutual agreement, strife and dissension will rule in the family. A child in such a family develops into a split personality and does not know which direction to go.
Dr. A. Dean Beard
In 2004, a social scientist Dr. A. Dean Byrd presented his research paper at the European Regional Dialogue on the family in Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Byrd summarized the results of decades of research showing that children need both a mother and a father in order to grow into emotionally mature adults. According to Dr. Byrd, "Children navigate the developmental stages more easily, are more solid in their gender identity, perform better in academic tasks at school, have fewer emotional disorders and become better functioning adults when they are reared by both the parents."
On the other hand, children reared only by a mother or a father or where mother and father have no love and agreement, develop suicidal tendencies, depression, drug-addiction, violent attitudes and several other disorders.
A child forms new habits much more easily than an older person, and there is therefore the greater danger of the formation of undesirable habits. On the other hand, the young child is for the same reason all the more teachable, and can more easily learn good habits.
Good and great habits become our lifelong friends « our guide forever. It is a solemn duty of every parent to nurture the child in a way that they are able to develop good habits and highly commendable moral virtues. But it must be remembered that habits cannot be formed forcefully. Raising children can be a greatly fulfilling experience but one that comes with a lot of responsibility. Only if they have been brought up well, will More than half of the problem that we they grow up to be happy and are facing these days, can be dealt mature adults. with if children are brought up
properly, with love and care.
Good habits are many and the list can be so long that one cannot remember, such as:
Perhaps this everlasting list of DO¶s and DON¶Ts will confuse a child more than guide him/her «.
THE GOLDEN RULE
But there is a short-cut to forming good habits and developing a moral quality that is acceptable everywhere on the globe. In fact, this is the essence of all the great religious teachings and is known as the GOLDEN RULE.
THE GOLDEN RULE TO BE TAUGHT TO ALL CHILDREN:
DON¶T DO TO OTHERS WHICH YOU WON¶T WANT OTHERS TO DO UNTO YOU.
In the 18 µPuranas¶, Vyas utters only two things ± to do good to others is righteousness and to inflict others is sin.
± Maharshi Vyas
There is no virtue greater than doing good to the others. There is no worse decline of character than hurting others.
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.
-- Christian Faith, Matthew 7:12
God commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion.
-- Islam, Quran, 16:90
Be urgent in good; hold your thoughts off evil. When one is slack in doing good the mind delights in evil.
-- Buddhist Text, Dhammapada
Verily, God enjoineth justice and the doing of good ... and He forbiddeth wickedness and oppression.
-- Baha¶i Faith, Abdu'l-Bahá
Faith and patience are two essential attributes in EMOTIONAL PARENTING and much needed for a child¶s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. Faith is a wide connotation and has a reciprocal meaning ± developing child¶s faith in parents and in God. On the other hand, it also means parents having faith in the child. By doing so we improve self-confidence of the child. Secondly, through showing patience towards children they will learn to control their ³wiggles´ and grow as persevering and considerate citizens of tomorrow. Patience is very important in emotional nurturing because as µRome was not built in a day¶, a good child is also not created overnight.
The goal should be to have the child come to know this is God¶s world and to discover his/her place in it. Also, to realize the responsibility each of us has to care for God¶s world.
Faith and patience inculcated in a child also teach him understanding and tolerance for others¶ faith. They know the value of µunity in diversity¶. Children of many different ethnic and faith backgrounds learn to celebrate the differences in one another and thereby come to realize that we can all live in harmony in God¶s world.
Trustworthiness is very important in developing the child¶s faith in you, as a parent. The stability of all emotional bonds depend on trustworthiness. Never break the promises you ever made to your child. Never show through your conduct any contradiction between your words and your deeds.
Setting the Example
Adults must be consistent in their interactions not only with the children, but also with the adults they work with. Children ³watch´ and ³hear´ all that is around them and may take it in as ³the way to be´.
Children model the behaviors they see, so adults must be sure their behaviors reflect the beliefs and values consistent with their faith.
"Take heed, O people, lest ye be of them that give good counsel to others but forget to follow it themselves."
Children have a set of neurons called mirror neurons. They develop virtues through mirroring other's actions. Nature and child are two things that can never be cheated by hypocritical attitudes and behaviors. You must be genuine in your approach. Set an example before your child by your deeds and not by your words only. When they sense you to be genuine, they love and respect you, make you their role model and this is the alpha and omega of emotional parenting.
Putting God first
³Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.´
The source of all emotional bonds and the sustainer of all abiding relationships is God. Walking in the ways of God is walking on the Straight Path. In the emotional world of child and parent, it is not the worldly considerations that rule but a profound feeling of being interwoven into a divine relationship. As long as we focus on this heavenly truth, everything is going to be ok.
Complete focus on God «
A child needs to be taught that he or she must walk in the ways of God. Weigh his or her manners and attitudes in the liking of God. In everything focus his or her attention on the divine kingdom « and then all else will follow. They must be taught to follow the example of an acrobat. They never look down at the rope or the crowd. They know that if they were to do that, they would lose concentration and be in danger of falling. We must keep our eyes focused on God and spiritual matters. When we set our focus on anything else, we will surely fall.
A FAMILY THAT PRAYS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER
Emotional Parenting cannot be fulfilled without one vital prerequisite ± PRAYER. Parents who develop a routine to pray together with children have a strong spiritual bond. Children must be taught to pray daily ± especially when they get up and before they go to bed. This one small habit will go a long way in making them transformed citizens of tomorrow.
Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul. BAHÁ¶U¶LLÁH
Emotional parenting of children is a not a child¶s play. Only those can transform the others who are themselves transformed first. Parents first need to empower themselves with goodly qualities so that they can nurture their children under the canopy of an emotionally integrated atmosphere. Only then can they stand before God and say that ³Yes, My God! I did my best to contribute to carrying forward Your ever-advancing civilization for which Thou created me.´
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