I keep reading about children who have made a difference. They are those who have become social influencers. Children have the ability to influence and affect change because they dream, and they dream with nothing to hold them back. When they feel for something, they feel for it deeply.
What makes Jack Andraka, Ann Makosinski, Olivia Hallisey , Deepika Kurup or Malala Yousafzai different from the average child? It’s their beautiful minds that did not stop from questioning. It’s their inquisitive minds that were first engaged with their parents.
Think back to when your child had been a little older than a toddler. Remember how s/he had wanted to water the plants too? and wanted to feed the cow at the farm? Do you see yourself in the picture? all of that begins with you because your interests make it worthwhile for your child too. Your child is conscious of the world s/he lives in because you are.
In a fast paced life, that invariably affects both adults and children alike, it is important to find value in the things you do. For children, it is beneficial if they find meaning in what they are learning.
Every time you visit some place or your child participates in a school campaign , encourage your children to think on what the world needs. If you take them trekking or go to a village with no schools , or see children in disagreeable circumstances , why not encourage a discussion? If they think a difference should be possible, ask them what might they like to do about it. They might not give you an answer right away but the conversation could be the beginning of self-awareness for them.
In India we have several children who make their country proud by their achievements. In the mad rush for hoarding accolades, we forget the innate tenderness of our children.
The only reason for most parents to engage their children in philanthropy/volunteering is because it ‘looks good’ on a college application. Even that might have been useful , had it not been for most colleges in India that only look for test scores as a pre-requisite for admissions. This has been so, unfortunately, because of the disparate nature of the educational system across the country.
However, if teenagers like Angad Daryani and Akash Manoj are rare in India, it has something to do with our parenting style too. A majority of parents today don’t stop to wonder if our extraordinarily cheerful or sensitive children can bring a smile to people who are having a hard time. We don’t appreciate those qualities enough and don’t ask them the right questions.
The act of giving or serving or wanting to make a positive impact is rooted usually on very personal grounds. It had been so for Daryani and Manoj. Both had parents and mentors to take them in a direction where they could themselves become a source of inspiration. The personal reasons have to be given enough impetus so that it works for the larger good.
When we hear inspiring stories around us, most often we simply stop at that. As adults, we lack conviction. However, it takes a little effort to inspire teenagers and young kids who are naturally inclined to ‘believe’ with their whole heart. All it takes for you is to let your child know that they are right. It only takes a little time to introduce to them your own ideals and those of influential predecessors who had been like your child.
The world is stricken with poverty, abuse, disease, challenges for humans and the environment. Then, there is the lack of education for all too. If your child begins to feel disturbed by any of it, the last thing to do would probably be to curb it or show apathy.
Sometimes the cause itself directly influences the parents, who then inspire their children, who influence the cause right back.
A Government Upper Primary School, in the Palakkad district of Kerala is one such school which champions the cause of bringing the reading habit back among its community. It also has a student’s bank, a mathematics club, a herbal garden and much more. It has an amazing alumini that gives back to its school by way of teaching the children there to communicate effectively. However the highlight rests upon the way parents are made to engage with their children. It is a school that recognizes that if a parent ‘reads’ so will the child.
Parents are the primary influencers in a child’s life. The child owing to their age is a potential influencer, even stronger than adults, for the larger causes that plague the world. A parent’s role in a child’s life therefore transcends home and school.