If you have ever gone through the schoolbag of anyone below 13, you are sure to find a mini-world within, loaded over by your little one. Little kids like to collect (to put it politely. They want to hoard things that appeal to their senses. It perhaps provides them with a sense of security. As a kid, I used to collect multi-coloured kanche (marbles) and 20 paise coins. I am an 80s child, my collection was simple. Kids these days have access to many more kids collectables that get jazzier by the day and thus too pretty to let go even if they take up a lot of space in your home. And also the fact that you paid a bomb for them when you bought them. Letting go of material things is just the tip of the iceberg, it is more difficult to let go of emotions. When we can’t let go of emotions, we want to hoard people around us; we find it difficult to let go of relationships that aren’t good for the other person or for us. We teach our kids to win everywhere, but rarely do we teach them to lose their hearts to the right things.
So how do we teach our kids to let go?
- The most important step is to let go of things and emotions yourself and live freshly from moment to moment. Be prepared for the next moment, but don’t be cautious about it. Revel in the excitement of the unknown moment that is yet to come rather than live in the fear of the unknown. In short, lead by example. Kids do as you do, not as you say.
- Always have faith that the next moment will be good enough (don’t put pressure on the next moment to be perfect). When we have faith in ourselves (basically our decisions), we don’t need crutches of material things to feel good. We hoard less because we have faith that whenever we need something it will be easily available to us. Pass on this faith to your kids.
- Indulge in activities/ experiences along with things. ‘Toys’ can never replace authentic ‘joys’. A creative parent can teach children that one can make a toy (rather a plaything) out of anything if they put enough imagination to use. I recently clicked a picture of a small plant that looked like it was a fairy standing with its back towards the camera and posted it on Facebook. The grown-ups loved it so much and many of them showed it to their kids. Another picture which garnered a lot of hits was a simple one where I titled diamond-shaped reflection of my window grill as ‘dhoop wali barfi’. The better your imagination, the less cluttered your home. And you know what Gandhiji has said: Cleanliness is next to godliness.
- Teach children the importance of listening to their gut feeling while buying something. This reduces impulsive buying as a grown up. While buying a toy, take them to multiple shops even if you know which toy you want to buy for them. This lets them know that buying anything is a time-consuming exercise and thus one should respect shopping. Later tell them that discarding the toy is as important. Tell them about how attachment to a thing that has outlived its utility doesn’t bring happiness. It might evoke nostalgia at best. But nostalgia literally means ‘pain from the past’, where nost means past and algia means pain.
- Communication builds communities. Communicating subtly and casually with your child at the beginning and end of the day early on in the childhood ensures that they keep talking to you even as teens and adults. Most parents begin to talk about serious matters only when their children grow up. But all I want to say is talk to your kids about serious matters in a fun manner. Communicating boundaries is the most important thing. It teaches kids that the right to extend your hand ends where the other person’s nose begins. Boundaries help in letting go automatically of what doesn’t belong to you, be it things or emotions.
- Teach your kids empathy but not over-empathy. Over-empathy makes one ‘collect’, forgive me for saying this, the ‘emotional litter’ of others. It makes you crippled when you see others in pain and rather than empowering the weak person, an over-empathetic person ends up making the other person even more weak by crying in his pain. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Sometimes not taking in is easier than letting go.
- Life is best lived with an empty mind and a full heart. Teach your kids early on about the right way of decision making. Teach them to ask the heart ‘WHAT’ to do and to ask their mind ‘HOW’ to do (as in what steps to take, how to organise tasks to fulfil the task at hand). Today our world is accustomed to ask the mind ‘WHAT’ to do and most of the times difficult and overwhelming emotions are a consequence of decision-making gone wrong.
- Try to give your children guidelines for a happy life but not rules, for even if you have figured out your life perfectly, your children are a combination of personality traits of both you and your partner. Plus, external factors like their friends, teachers, access to media etc. make them pretty different from you. Be there to pick up your child after they have fallen (or in extreme circumstances prevent their fall), but in day-to-day life don’t prevent them from falling. This gives children faith in their own ability to get out of a problem early on and reduces expectations from others and a sense of entitlement is kept at bay. This getting up on their own with a little help from others helps them let go of mishaps sooner as an adult.
- So many of us think that our kids will have a balanced personality only through discipline. But there’s another way too. Balance can be achieved either by taming the mind (discipline) or letting the heart run wild (listening to your gut feeling to take action). One of our professors had taught us that mind lives on borrowed truth while the heart lives on experienced truth. Both take you to the same destination, but the heart takes you there faster and laughing all the way. And people who laugh find it easier to let go of things because they always see the sunny side of things.
- If you want your children to let go of negative and non-beneficial things, you have to learn to let go of your kids. Remember what Khalil Gibran said…
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
|Cover image from Pixabay.|