An event attended for GurgaonMoms on 24th February 2018 on Parenting: Are we missing the Obvious? held at The Heritage Experiential Learning School was a rich experience. It gave an insight how we as parents, society, schools are responsible for shaping the kid’s belief system and how we can create a different story to bring about the change we are looking for in them.

The event began with a welcome address by our very own Neela Kaushik. Followed by poetry recital ‘Average’ by Anagha Rajesh, a 7th Grader of the American Embassy School, New Delhi. The poem was about a girl…just a girl…an ordinary average girl who thought herself to be ordinary but then came along someone who saw her worth and beauty.

As quoted in the poem ‘ It is only with the heart that one can see clearly’, each one of us has qualities which we overlook in trying to fit in into the mold and then we meet someone who sees the inner beauty in us, the attributes we so overlook in pursuit of maintaining the outer self.

Next up was a brief session by Saurabh Saklani, Co-Founder of InMe who emphasized on outdoor activities. He believed in stepping out of the comfort zone because real learning happens in the real world. We miss these real nuggets that the children require every day.

A Panel Discussion on BullyProofing Our Kids by Nazia Erum, author of “Mothering a Muslim”,  Aditi Mishra (Principal DPS Sector 45) and Ariana Heifetaz  ( Leading Socio-Economic Learning Work at The Heritage Experiential Learning School) followed.

Nazia’s book deals with rising in bullying on religious beliefs and how under-reported it goes. As parents, how out of sync we are with the reality our kids face. We have ready scripts for them to avoid religious bullying but the question arises why we need such scripts? Why is there a need to behave in a certain manner to not get labelled?

The childhood has been tainted by politics. Citing an example from the book about a conversation between two kids

1st Child-  Kya tum Muslim ho?

2nd Child-  Haan, lekin mein beef nahi khata….

She questioned, why there is a silence amongst children? Why are they not trusting their parents/ schools? Or have the kids accepted it as something wrong with them to be treated this way?

She has named many Delhi NCR Schools where this is happening, in her book. DPS being one of them, was the most responsive and Mrs Aditi Mishra, Principal, Sector 45, Gurugram was quoted as saying ….All of this had a disturbing effect on me

  • As a mother
  • As a teacher
  • As a Principal

She has made an Anti-Bullying Squad in her school yet the religious bullying didn’t come up. She said it is unacceptable to have children come up with fear or a script.

Ariana, observed that bullying is a symptom of a child needing any of the 2 things

  • Needing attention or connection
  • Need to control- they feel powerless when we make choices for them

There is a lot of pressure on kids to keep up with their peers. Their own self of worth becomes questionable. All love and appreciation comes on their performance.

Islamophobia is an easy target since it’s  all over the media.

The points to ponder over were

  • It is important we don’t be judgemental in front of kids.
  • Much of the hatred is coming from home
  • Acknowledge their stereotypes with complexity. Instead of scolding them, beat the stereotype through curiosity. Silence is complexity.

Next Up was a session by Dr Shelja Sen, a writer, child & adolescent psychologist and family therapist & Author of ‘Imagine: No Child Left Invisible’ with Moderator – Dr Kavita Arora, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Co-founder Children First and joining them on stage was Janini Iyer (teacher).

Many interesting insights were shared by the panellist. Stories of how they are, how they behave are built around children from the time they are born. Some children have multiple stories, some have a single story about them.

Dr Shelja termed it as ‘Disgraceful’- defining it as the story we will get about them which further depends upon where the child fits in the hierarchy.

No learning can happen unless the space is emotionally safe. It’s about being accepted for who they are, as they are.

The Concept of WOW

We have so many dreams for our children and they do not fit into our dreams we do not feel WOW.

W- you are WORTHY

O- you are ORIGINAL

W- you are WELCOME

Love them as they are. Everyone has been trying to get into the stencil mode, for wanting to be accepted.  The kids who challenge the teacher are treated as difficult children to handle. But they are the ideal learners. The teacher has to work to change the narrative about the student, the class. We do not need to change the kids. We need to learn to work around the kids learning activity.

An insight shared by Janini on how to build alternate stories to children was noteworthy …

She said that she doesn’t go and asks the previous teacher about the class. She doesn’t want a label in her mind about each child but wishes to explore them on her own. This helps the child to grow.

Some keywords shared  to be used to change the narrative  to describe the kids

  • Adventurous
  • Dynamic
  • Kind
  • Creative
  • Curious
  • Cheerful
  • Charming
  • Generous
  • Gritty
  • Life-affirming

This was followed by an activity done with the listeners where they shared their qualities of like and dislike and what they appreciated in others.

A vote of thanks by Upasana Mahtani Luthra ended the session.

A big applause to GuragomMoms for a thought-provoking insightful session.