Who would have ever thought that the entire world would stop and lockdown, for an uncertain period of time? Will the world ever be the same again? Will we ever be able to share the same space with strangers or neighbours, without having a lingering doubt? These questions, although rhetorical may have crossed the minds of all.
The pandemic has, reconfigured every mundane activity, which was never given much importance to. It has most profoundly impeded the emotional and psychological growth of the children, today. In times of anxiety and disrupted routines, it is normal for people of all ages to experience signs of anguish. With their freedom curbed, movements confined to their homes and no friends to laugh or play with, the children are at the risk of a ‘social recession’, a concept which most of us are fortunately unfamiliar with. Physiological changes such as changes in patterns of sleep and appetite may be discerned in adolescents. They may become reclusive and irritable due to prolonged isolation and inadequate interaction with their peers, while the young children, may act clingy or cranky. The most disconcerting question posed, however, is if this pandemic would leave a lasting impact on the mental health of the children. Even though most of them appear to be resilient, parents still need to remain very observant and perceptive to the needs of the children.
Disturbing external stimuli as experienced during the Corona pandemic, provide the parents with an opportunity to strengthen the ‘Social and Emotional Intelligence’ (SEI) of the young sensitive minds. Schools and parents can actively and productively collaborate to allay the effects of the distressing times. Validation of the emotions experienced amongst the children by the parents, teachers and other associates, proves to be the first step in the dissemination of the internal turmoil. Thankfully, what we have is abundance of time, which can be put to efficacious use, even while working from home. Introspection in combination with mindful listening has proven to be a remedy to all maladies. Although intimidating and daunting, as the times may seem, every experience can be taken as a teacher.
‘Emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80 percent of the “success” in our lives.’ These words of J.Freedman comprehensively encompass the essence and importance of strengthening Social and Emotional Intellignce. As an educator, I have observed that parents and teachers play an indispensable role in providing the children with a trajectory of values and skills. Preaching them to be empathetic would most likely not drive the point in, but an occasional visit to an orphanage would probably kindle the humanitarian nerve in the child, as was seen in the life of the enlightened Gautama Buddha.
Human beings are conflicted and the inner turbulence experienced by usmoulds our lives and behavior. Understanding oneself and the world around with the correct perspective is vital for building a healthy relation between our family and the society. We all get sad, mad, scared, jealous and insecure; however, our greatest failure lies in not acknowledging these at the right time or in the right manner. A child’s academic score cannot be used to brand him a failure, what needs to be borne in mind is the fact that it is the outlook of the society which alters the self-image etched in the minds of the innocent lives. Few of us are even sentient of the various types of intelligences. The consortium of intelligence includes verbal-linguistic, logical-Mathematical, musical, spatial and several others but regretfully a person with naturalistic intelligence is termed ‘absent-minded’ or ‘withdrawn’. Even the parents show no understanding, resulting in poor self-image and self-esteem. Little, would parents know that their ward may make the best marine biologist or geologist! Awareness and acceptance, is the key to unraveling these and simplifying life. We can even go a step further and claim that people with developed ‘Emotional Intelligence’ can use it as an invaluable tool to advance through life and improve their overall status in broader society.Parents and teachers can use the lockdown to attend webinars or free courses on understanding and strengthening SEI.
The situation today, is rife with passive-aggressive exchanges and open hostility, propagating hatred and violence. Children consequently are restless and seek instant gratification. Depression and frustration are rampant among those who do not find success immediately or as desired. Most successful people have been known to have excellent anger and stress management skills.Experts often advice the maintenance of ‘Anger Management Thermometers’ to identify the intensity of the anger in children. Sometimes just being able to identify anger-triggers can help prevent the situation, or if not, it can at least help our kid look for help at the initial stages before things have turned into a full-blown drama. Above all we need to monitor our anger first, to be exemplary for others.
Hallmarks of success include a strong drive to achieve, optimism even in the face of failure, and organizational commitment. This requires passion and panache. A person, who has a passion to excel due to reasons which go beyond money and status, would find true satisfaction. He would have no qualms about not getting enough or facing injustice, thus will have inner peace. Although Utopian, but when this skill is inculcated in our children, it would give them immense peace, pleasure, and privilege. ‘Don’t compare, appreciate and celebrate every small success of the child. Let him learn at his own pace and work for the happiness derived’ are some of my ideologies of life as a parent. These psalms have helped me become a better parent and educator.
Researches and studies have proven that an emotionally strong person leads a happier and fruitful life, for reasons such as, they are better at managing their emotions, they are self-aware, satisfied, engaged and above all have empathy which transpires to gratitude. Are we, as a society, not responsible for making it a better place for our children?
This pandemic has not locked us down. It has actually opened up our minds and hearts. Opened up avenues and possibilities. It has given us the opportunity to introspect and spend time together, find inner strength to fight against all odds. To reflect upon our mistakes as a human race and ultimately to make the Universe a place worth living. Let us seize this opportunity to adopt the philosophy and morals of ‘vasudeiva kutumbakam’ and make the entire world a better place.
Ms. Manju Rana
Principal Cum Director