Guest Features

Fragile—Handle with Care!


Every person is different, and it is important to understand and alter your approach with people.

By Sumita Pillai

The stress on children in schools has increased considerably in the last few years. Most students, today, are already thinking ahead and planning careers while still in school. Sometimes, this process begins as early as Class seven or eight but the pressure and stress to prove themselves by achieving ‘entry’ into these careers can cause many disturbing behaviour patterns. Over the years of adolescence, a span of six to seven years, different aspects of the person’s identity come into focus – the sexual self, a sense of confidence or doubt, work on career goals, personal values and a sense of recognition or isolation. This growing awareness of an inner, maturing self is a profound step in the development of a young adult, and is a period of time required for finding his/ her role in an adult society.

To enable this young adult to journey through this phase smoothly, adults -both parents and teachers – can help in several ways.

• Ensuring a happy home environment is essential, as is helping the child manage his/her time better. A regular, relaxed schedule will help maximize the use of time and prevent the feeling of being unduly pressurized
• Distractions – which are unnecessary or unpleasant – should be kept to a minimum. Distractions can eat into time leading to anxiety and stress later on
• Expectations should be realistic, as every child does not blossom in an exam-oriented evaluation system. Parents and teachers need to be aware of this and give the child genuine support, love and confidence which is not conditional on their ability to excel all the time. Most children voice disappointing their parents as their first and most crucial worry
• Sometimes, high parental expectations lead to tuitions –both for the regular school curriculum and for the various entrance exams. While many children cope very well with the time, effort and hard work required for both, we must remember that many children do find it difficult to work simultaneously on different planes. Understanding this would enable children and parents to avoid conflicting expectations which lead to anxiety, burn out and confrontation.

For the young adult, who is the future of the new globalizing world, this is a period of intense self-search. The need ‘to fit in’ makes the opinions of parents, teachers, friends and other adults very important. Besides needing positive statements and reassurance, they also need truthful, factual feedback to their questions and doubts. Responsible, caring adults who actively listen to them and provide the support and respect each young person needs to work through his/ her confusion is the need of the hour!

Everyone should feel worthy of themselves and what they do. This self-worth is essentially a state of mind and is often referred to as ‘self- esteem’. Social class and economic background have little to do with it. Parents have it within their power to give a child high self-esteem. (e.g. Sidney Poitier!)
Research indicates that individuals’ attitudes towards themselves are formed within the four walls of their home.

Some of the common values found in homes of children with high self- esteem are:

• Lots of love within the family – Not just a physical expression in the form of hugs or kisses but love that expresses respect and concern for the child. When the child discovers that he/she is an object of deep interest and pride, he/she begins to feel a person of worth
• Less permissiveness – Parents of children with high self-esteem are less permissive. Children with permissive parents are often insecure as they are forced to make decisions in areas where they have neither the knowledge nor the experience to make a reasoned choice. They often tend to feel that their parents don’t enforce rules simply because they are unconcerned
• Degree of democracy – Finally, there is a marked degree of democracy in homes of children with high self-esteem. Parents having established a code of conduct and their own authority within that code encourage their children to present their own ideas for discussion. Their opinions, however far out, are received respectfully and taken into account before decisions are taken
• Thus, the environment surrounding children and young adults has a very crucial role to play in building an individual’s self-esteem and in nurturing them to become happy, fulfilled adults.