Tag Archives: Children

Motivating Children

My daughter has a “Spell Bee” competition (this is a competition on getting spellings right..) coming up in her school in Feb. Yesterday evening my wife complained to me that she was not preparing in spite of her repeated pestering and demanded that I interfere.

 I have always thought that my wife’s approach to getting things done was wrong (as with all women); she was too nagging. Whereas I am a strong believer of the fact that children should be motivated than forced upon. Well, here was my chance to prove the point; so I decided to have a  conversation with my daughter about this.

 “How has your preparation been going on for Spell Bee?” I asked

 She mumbled something in response; indicating that she wasn’t really enthusiastic about the conversation.

 “You will have a surprise gift from me if you get the first prize” I didn’t have a better choice for motivating her than this age-old proven tactic of offering something.

 Her eyes lit up briefly (OK, I was on the right track)

 “You will get a pair of nice Cinderella shoes in you win the first prize” (She has been behind me for that expensive shoes which I obviously thought was sheer waste of money)

  Now, I am waiting for to explode with joy, but…

  “Not needed papa”, her response was cold and for moment I went blank

 “Pink color shoes with golden laces..”, maybe I had not made it look attractive enough

  “Listen papa. If I win the “Spell Bee” contest, I will get a reward of 12 lakhs. So we will have lots of money, we can buy whatever we want…..May be we can also buy bigger home, more comfortable car… Or expensive clothes…”

  I had absolutely nothing to say; there was just a deep pain somewhere.

 Few months back when I had been to my ancestral home, I found a “pencil-case” in an abandoned cupboard. I had won it as a prize in a competition when I was in 3rd standard. It was something unearthly to me and meant everything in the world for quite sometime. When I saw it after several years, I was amused at the details that flooded my memory- the smell of the plastic, the pictures on it, the glossiness of the packet, how it feels and everything about it. I brought it with me back to Bangalore and it’s lying on my table. A strange joy fills my heart whenever I look at it.

 So much has changed in 30 years. I can understand generation gap, but can’t really understand it when our own children are generations away from us…

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Appreciating Children

Last evening my daughter was proudly showing me he school workbooks. She was really proud because most of the worksheets/test papers had ‘good’, ‘*’, smileys or even some stickers below them. Some had even multiple ones. And she was now looking at me expecting appreciation (which of course I did)

 I was thinking about this later. These are just one part of the appreciation these kids get. In addition, they get to stand near the board, get smileys on their hands, get the class to clap for them. What for? For reciting some rhymes, reproducing some words with correct spellings, bringing some objects to the class as told by teachers, keeping silence in the class, doing additions and subtraction without mistakes. And the children expect similar appreciation from parents too.

 The thought I had was – aren’t we little overdoing this? When you are grown up, appreciation is a very rare thing and that too a genuine appreciation is seldom. At work, where you spend most of your time, appreciation comes in the form of more responsibility and more money. But that too is once a while.

 So what happens to these kids who are so used to being appreciated for every right thing, when they grow up? Are they likely to become depressed ? Are these kids likely to become more addicted to nicotine/drugs? I think it is very very likely. May be someone will study this someday in detail.

The appreciations at school primarily comes from complying to rules or being good. Very rarely children get appreciated for a creative response or solution. But when they grow up, no one appreciates them for being good, the likely hood of they getting appreciated is high if they are creative. This I think is creating a contradiction in their minds and naturally in their lives too.

 But I am not really sure if being very conservative in appreciating children will be a good idea? It is possible that they might get a more realistic perspective of life ahead. Or will be end up making their life also dull and uneventful like that of ours?

A Nonsense story and Creativity in Children

 “Papa, I have something interesting for you”. My daughter said and I could see that mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

“I will ask you some questions first”, she said

Do I have a choice?.

“Who is your favorite actor?”

“Amir Khan”

“Who is your favorite actress?”

“Kareena Kapoor”

“Choose a number between 0 and 10”

“3”

“Which your favorite pet”

“Dog”

After a short pause, she tell me the following story. “One day, Amir Khan and Kareena Kapoor comes to your home. You ask them how many children they have. They say three. Then you ask them how do they look. And they tell you that they look like dogs”

The way she told me this, she was thoroughly enjoying and looked quite satisfied. Though it looked too silly (and nonsense), I had to pretend that I enjoyed it.

Later as I think of this, it conveys something profound. There has been several studies done on creativity in children. But what prevents us (grown-ups) from being creative like them? In this world we are taught to make sense in what we say and do. Things need to be logical and needs to convey something etc. We are concerned about what others think of what we do or say. And it is this ‘need to make sense’ that doesn’t allow us to be creative..

If we just stop making sense (at least for sometime), perhaps we can get a glimpse of what a creative state is. But that may not be easy. Just try cooking up a story that absolutely makes no sense and telling it to someone, you will be surprised to see how tough that is.

The origin of fear

 Where does the fear in us come from? Does it come from knowing or from ignorance?

Sounds like a very philosophical question and most of the philosophers would pick ignorance.

Let me narrate my experience. I usually take a walk in the evening in park near to my residence. I typically go late in the evening to avoid the evening crowd there, so that I can walk briskly without bumping to people. It was around 8.30PM yesterday that I was in the park. The park was mostly empty and I was walking briskly. Suddenly, I thought something touched my leg and in a reflex, I leaped forward. When I turned back, to my horror, there was a huge cobra trying to cross the jogging track. I very narrowly escaped being bitten. Needless to say, I didn’t continue any further.

I made it a point to go early today and the park was somewhat crowded. I was very cautious keeping a close watch on either side and paying attention to the slightest movement. After while, I realized that it was only me who was being so cautious. All the others were walking freely and carelessly. Of course they didn’t know there was a Cobra around. But when I thought about the risk, they and I had almost the same risk of being in danger. And then how come that only I had the fear?

Where does the fear in us come from? Does it come from knowing or from ignorance? I sat on the park bench thinking about this and watching some kids play. Then I started thinking about whether children have fear. I think they do. But then it struck me that there is a big difference between the fear that children have and the adults have. We are mostly afraid of something that might happen and children are afraid of something that’s happening. Try to make a child understand what ‘risk’ is, you will understand this.

But then does the fear come because the knowing is limited or is it a different type of Knowing that the philosopher is talking about? Perhaps.

What does the ego want?

My wife informed me that my daughter got down from her school bus crying. She told me the reason too, but I wanted to hear what my daughter had to say.

In the evening, I picked up a conversation with her on this. I asked her why she had cried in the bus.

“Papa, you know it was Suneethi’s (another girl in the bus) b’day today. She distributed chocolates to everyone in the bus and she didn’t give me”

 “So, why did you cry?” I asked.

“Because she didn’t give me”

 “OK fine, she didn’t give you. But why did you cry?” She looked little puzzled.

“It is a bad behavior, right?”

 “May be, but then why did you cry” I asked gently.

There was a pause. I repeated the question again.

“Because I wanted them to feel sorry..?” she said hesitantly and then quickly changed the topic to something else. I guess she saw the point.

This is what the ego always does. It thinks by reacting (emotionally) it can change a situation favorably or at least make someone guilty about it.  It’s easy to see how this works in children, their egos are still developing. But as adults look at the amount of messages we sent out by reacting to the world every moment. We are constantly saying to the world “I am right, you better change”.We all have a need to be in constant conflict with one or the other thing.

Aldous Huxley once said “I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.” But will the ego agree?

A world so full of life..

This is a picture I found in a 6 year old’s note-book.

It’s a simple picture; but what caught my attention is the conversation between the flower and the butterfly. The flower says “hi” and the Butterfly says ‘wow’.

For children, the whole world is so full of life.

As adults we see customers, managers, colleagues, husbands, friends, enemies etcetc.., but do we ever see human beings? Or we see concepts in to which we force-fit everyone?