Excerpts from the book ‘Your Child is Your Parent’ by Manoj J Lekhi.
How we speak to our child, the words we use while speaking to him or her, plays a very important role in the development of the child.
To begin with, we must recognise that by using certain words again and again over a period of time, we ensure that certain karma gets deeply associated, almost built in, with those words. By this, we mean that each word has an unconscious karmic association with an underlying meaning of the word
For example, the minute we hear a child being described as ‘hyperactive’, we immediately draw a mental map of the child as being someone with whom something is wrong. We even label the child thus and begin to think of ways to rectify the wrong. But if you call the same ‘hyperactive’ child ‘playful’, we will begin to see the situation very, very differently. If we see the child jumping around exuberantly and look at him as a playful child — probably like Krishna who was ever so playful — we will not find him hyperactive but playful. So, the words that we use have a tremendous potential in shaping the being of a child.
Let me give you another example. In our Gurukulam, we don’t call homework by that name. We call it ‘home-play’ because anything that a child is supposed to do in life is play; hence the name ‘home-play’.
Similarly, the word ‘teacher’ takes on a different meaning in formal education systems. When we say the word ‘teacher’, we unconsciously bring about a separation between the teacher and the student in that the teacher imparts education to the student. This implies that the teacher knows more than the students, and that the teacher is at a higher level than the student.
In our Gurukulam, we ensure a more homely atmosphere. So, instead of calling them teachers, we call them didis. The child thus remains connected with the concept of family, and sees ‘didi’ as an extension of the family; thus, the separation is diminished.
We call ‘holidays’ as ‘home-days’. The reason is very simple. By calling days of staying at home ‘holidays’, we imply that other days are ‘working days’. Work is always made out to be stressful whereas holidays invariably stand for enjoyment. Life, in my opinion, is an expression of one’s joyfulness.
From this perspective, every day is a holiday; so, why term one day, be it Saturday or Sunday, as a holiday? Thus, the day when children stay at home is not called a holiday but a home-day.
Words have a powerful bearing on the way the child develops. In this book, you will find several instances where we have deliberately changed a number of expressions, and the parents need to be very aware of them for the sake of their child. Ascribing preconceived labels to the child is extremely demoralising for him or her.
Always address the child as how you would like him to be rather than how he is. For example, if you have a very shy child, then you either say, “You are very shy”, which does nothing to drive away the shyness, or you focus on his confidence and say, “You are a tremendously confident child” for every little achievement of his. Thus, by giving this kind of positive reinforcement, you will actually end up making him more confident and outgoing.
You should perceive the child the way you want him to be; address him that way by using words which have that kind of impact. The child will automatically become all that you want him to be. But for this, the parent needs to be tremendously aware and alert. Awareness comes from silence of the mind. Silence comes from meditation. So, one who meditates automatically becomes aware and uses his words appropriately!