“A child is a beam of sunlight from the Infinite and Eternal, with possibilities of virtue and vice, but as yet unstained.” – Lyman Abbott
A child is not only a bundle of joy but also a raft of sublime adventures. They are curious little souls, who are often perceived as individuals with lower levels of maturity requiring adult vigilance, love, and nurturing. However, what we often forget is that the child is someone who is shaped by the world today and what they will become tomorrow.
When you hear the word ‘child’, what comes to your mind? Some of us judge children as manifestations of the Almighty, while others consider them to be notorious and innocent reflections of ourselves who are only responsible for creating mischief and making us laugh. No matter how we symbolize children, what we often forget is that a human is a human, however small.
Our childhood is full of playing games outdoors, being part of various extracurricular activities like dancing, singing, or painting, not worrying about the future, and living a life without fear. It is one of the best periods of our life, a life without boundaries and with unabandoned joy.
As children grow, they develop unique characteristics, nuances of thought shaped by their environment. Cocooned by parental protection, they grow up to become a reflection of their parents in some way or the other. Thus, one can consider children to be memory banks in which we make small deposits every day through our acts.
During early childhood, children learn things through imitation of adults surrounding them. Haven’t we all come across situations where a child learns something absurd like a foul word used by an adult and says it in public, thereby embarrassing us? If this has never happened to you, try applying lipstick in front of your child the next time and see your child get all fashionable in no time!
James Baldwin said “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them”, giving us the responsibility of setting a good example.
In most situations, a child seeks affirmation from their loved ones, termed as unconditional positive regard or an attitude of showing complete acceptance towards the individual. This does not mean that we need to agree with or support every action or decision the child makes, but we are entailed to ensure that the child feels valued and respected for who they are.
Children are whatever we make them believe they are. Tell your child that they are a Superman and see them roam around with your red dupatta as a cape all around the house or tell them that their mistakes are okay and they can learn from them and see them smile the brightest.
Independence and tenderness are two major attributes that define children and thus, should not be meddled with. These two factors further go on to develop characteristics of a child, like self-esteem and image, respecting oneself, and others. A loving and consistent effort will help build confidence whereas punishments and scoldings demean the child’s esteem. If the same lesson is taught through hugs and pats, it can do wonders in the life of a child.
Children teach us to be everything they are—incorrupt and non-scandalous. In return, we owe them the safety and security of their innocence and purity. Unfortunately, the increasing rate of exploitation, abuse, and harm to children does not abide by our responsibility. Any form of abuse not only shatters a child’s vision for a bright future but also leads him/her into anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, anger, and hostility that can persist for years after the abuse. Children are bound to enter the vicious cycle of self-blame, self-shame, and eventually self-harm.
As Khaled Hosseini writes in The Kite Runner writes “Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors”. Parental support should not be misconstrued as a free pass to shape the child the way we want but rather as a way to help them metamorphosize into their unique self.