How Parents Can Play a Role in Developing Young Leaders
By KRYSTAL CLARE
It was just another Thursday and I had finished a lunch meeting. I drove over to pick my son up from playschool and as he was coming down the stairs I overheard a teacher assistant asking him “Are you going to tell your mummy that you scribbled on the wall?” My initial instinct was that it’s probably a tiny scribble. At the same time, the principal’s room door opened and she asked if she could have a word with me. As she narrated and scrolled through the pictures, I was shocked. It was worse than just a scribble. My son and a classmate had gone to town with the class teacher’s permanent marker. It was all over the tables, chairs, floor and white board. It was obvious they had the time of their lives for those few minutes. This was something out of character seeing that both my son and his classmate have never drawn on the walls at home and are usually very well behaved in school. I was quite bewildered as two days before the incident I was over the moon as my son shared that they had their weekly morale talk at school and it was about was about picking up after yourself. I felt like the luckiest mum in the world because he was practising what he had learned. That evening, I was beaming with joy. I saw him as the perfect child. My son is three going on four years old and after the scribbling incident, I had to take a step back to reflect. It was important to remember that he is now developing his sense of self.
Having self-awareness allows a person to take control of their emotions and behaviour and enables one to change their thoughts and mindsets.
Every day is a learning process about boundaries and testing limits. Figuring out what is acceptable and not acceptable. That day, I gave him time to reflect too. With some reflection, I hoped he would develop a higher sense of self-awareness and understanding that all his actions have repercussions.
Do as I Say, Not as I Do
I remember the first time I heard this saying and wondering if it could really work. Children listen, observe, soak up information and mimic actions which in turn, often take after the behaviour, attitudes and beliefs of the people who surround them the most.
Self-awareness is listed as one of the 10 core life skills by WHO (World Health Organisation) and is defined as having a clear understanding of “self”. The process of self-awareness starts from a very young age when children begin discovering their likes and dislikes. This is the point where they start exploring and learning about themselves.
Having self-awareness allows a person to take control of their emotions and behaviour and enables one to change their thoughts and mindsets. When your child has good self-awareness skills, they will know their strengths and weaknesses, be in tune with their emotions as well as likes and dislikes. They will be able to express their feelings and at the same time, be mindful of the feelings of others. Over time they will also understand that their actions and words can impact other people. While this might be a lot to ask of a child, it is important to understand that such skills will develop over time, mostly with the help of role models.
Learning self-awareness requires more than just reading self-development books. Learning brings change but the environment needs to be cohesive.
At the moment, my son is at a stage where sharing is a problem. While I thoroughly enjoy having his cousins over, at the end of the dinners and playdates, I am emotionally exhausted and a little frazzled sometimes. Being the only child, he has had monopoly over the television. So, to practise what we preach, we have decided to make him understand that sometimes he must be considerate and that, we all get our turns. As parents, we can impart self-awareness to our children in different ways. Learning self-awareness requires more than just reading self-development books. Learning brings change but the environment needs to be cohesive. It is important for us to:
1. Express Appreciation
It’s priceless to see the twinkle in their eyes. A child who feels appreciated will learn how to express appreciation for others.
Ask them questions, encourage them to take a moment to reflect if they did the correct thing or even if they could have done something better. Ask them if they would change how they reacted or behaved.
3. Have Patience
Learning – and practising – patience is a lot tougher now than it used to be. Information is at our fingertips and we are no longer appreciative of the value of delayed gratification but learning to be patient is vital.
4. Have Consideration and Respect for Others
Showing consideration for other people by doing simple things like giving way to another driver is a good example. Understanding that everyone is different and should be treated respectfully is important. This especially holds true in situations where they would like to be treated in kind.
5. Appreciate Feedback
Learning to receive feedback – under any circumstances – can’t be underestimated. Receiving feedback constructively will result in heightened self-awareness which will then evolve into self-development. Receiving feedback should not be confused with seeking validation.
6. Learn to Forgive
My son learnt another valuable lesson after his permanent marker episode. As I walked into class the next day, His class teacher called him over, gave him a hug and said “Don’t worry about it. Just don’t do it again.” He has now learnt another tool for self-awareness which is forgiveness. Forgiving fully is a powerful tool in moving forward and it just makes them a better person.
As our children grow, parts of their self-awareness will unfold. We must nurture them to fulfil their biggest potential along the way.
In the words of Nelson Mandela “May your choices reflect your hopes, and not your fears.” As mothers, we do the best we can with what we have.
This Mother’s Day I encourage you to lift yourself up and other mothers in any way you can. We are all in this together. Happy Mother’s Day.