Words & your child

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How we speak to our child, the words we use while speaking to him or her, plays a very important role in the development of the child.

To begin with, we need to recognise that by using certain words again and again over a period of time, we ensure that certain karma gets deeply associated, almost built-in, with those words. By this, we mean that each word has an unconscious karmic association with an underlying meaning of the word.

For example, the minute we hear a child being described as ‘hyperactive’, we immediately draw a mental map of the child as being someone with whom something is wrong. We even label the child thus and begin to think of ways to rectify the wrong. But if you call the same ‘hyperactive’ child ‘playful’, we will begin to see the situation very, very differently. If we see the child jumping around exuberantly and look at him as a playful child — probably like Krishna who was ever so playful — we will not find him hyperactive but playful. So, the words that we use have tremendous potential in shaping the being of a child.

Let me give you another example. In our Gurukulam, we don’t call homework by that name. We call it ‘home-play’ because anything that a child is supposed to do in life is play; hence the name ‘home-play’.

Similarly, the word ‘teacher’ takes on a different meaning informal education system. When we say the word ‘teacher’, we unconsciously bring about a separation between the teacher and the student in that the teacher imparts education to the student. This implies that the teacher knows more than the students and that the teacher is at a higher level than the student.

In our Gurukulam, we ensure a more homely atmosphere. So, instead of calling them teachers, we call them didis. The child thus remains connected with the concept of family, and sees ‘didi’ as an extension of the family; thus, the separation is diminished.

We call ‘holidays’ as ‘home-days’. The reason is very simple. By calling days of staying at home ‘holidays’, we imply that other days are ‘working days’. Work is always made out to be stressful whereas holidays invariably stand for enjoyment. Life, in my opinion, is an expression of one’s joyfulness.

From this perspective, every day is a holiday; so, why term one day, be it Saturday or Sunday, as a holiday? Thus, the day when children stay at home is not called a holiday but a home-day.

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