December 29, 2020
“Keep fear out of your child's mind, as you would keep poison out of his body; for fear is the deadliest of mental poisons” - Orison Swett Marden.
Imagine your child going to school and has been performing considerably well in all aspects. You are a busy parent and so is your spouse. There are no hiccups in your life with respect to your child until one day you get a call from the school's principal saying, "Your child hasn't come to school for 2 weeks." Emotions run through you like a river. You're shocked, confused, and enraged; trying to process this information.
In the given situation, there are two possible responses –
1: You yell and lash out at your child, accuse, insult all at once, and eventually beat her up.
2: You sit her down, try to communicate and find out what happened.
Now, did you figure out why the child skipped school for two weeks?
It was found that one of the subject teachers used brute force (out of habit) to reprimand the student for the mere reason of ‘not knowing the answer to a particular question’. Your child was insulted and called names and furthermore, hurled more insults for her poor background.
Unfortunately, in our country, according to a study connected by the “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights”, 99.9% of students experience this. The school's stereotypical, authoritarian, and patriarchal nature often strangles the student's voices. Students are expected to follow the strict rules and failing to comply results in "punishment".
What must go through his/her mind?
Imagine the impact your choice of ‘1st response’ would’ve left on your child who was subjected to abuse both at school and home.
Corporal punishment for children shouldn't be normalized. It is illegal in nature and strictly prohibited by law. It can cause several negative implications and impacts on the child. The physical and mental abuse can cause permanent damages to a child's mind. Depression, stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other ailments can physically & mentally change the entire natural mapping of the child’s brain.
In the research 'Choking Childhood' conducted by Agrasar, corporal punishment has long-term effects on a child which can result in delinquent behavior, alcohol, and drug abuse. In India, corporal punishment is usually regarded as an approved form of 'educating a child' or ‘to teach him/her a lesson’ in spite of the fact that it is illegal, unethical, and inhumane in nature. From its report, “a whopping 91% of parents approve of it and 74% even implement it at their house.”
I need to pose a question to you. Do you think the greatest minds of our world were subjected to corporal punishment and that's why they excelled?
Albert Einstein was allegedly a backward student, dyslexic, and failed many college entrance exams but his parents didn't give up on him or beat him up, they encouraged him by embracing the flaws.
Alexander Graham Bell was considered a mediocre student in his school so what did his mother do? She took it upon herself to educate him despite the disability of being deaf. There is one thing common that was the key to their success - parents valued their child's mind. They made an effort to understand them.
We cannot leave everything at the will of the teachers to mold and shape a child's mind. As a parent, you need to be conscious and aware of your child. Know the strengths and growth areas of their character and encourage them to become a better human being. Even if you don't have the knowledge, communication is a major key. A five-minute positive talk can instill positivity and clarity in your child and boost his/her confidence. Try considering the 2nd possibility when it comes to your child. The body alone doesn't need the nutrition, the mind does too. Communication can solve the mental knots of a mind. He/she doesn't need a stick on his/her back, instead, needs a reassuring pat and words of descriptive praise and encouragement to let him/her navigate life. Children cannot be punished for behaving like children. Their small mistakes shouldn't be seen as irreversible blunders rather as stepping stones of learning. Schools should be a safe space for a child to grow and not an institution that instills fear through punishment.