The 3 Toughest Lessons To Teach Your Kids

23/03/2015 8:03 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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If I were hanged on the highest hill, Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine! I know whose love would follow me still, Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine! If I were drowned in the deepest sea, Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine! I know whose tears would come down to me, Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine! If I were damned of body and soul, I know whose prayers would make me whole, Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine! Mother o' Mine by Rudyard Kipling dedicated to my Mother View..Large texture by ..

Being a parent has two sides. You learn something new every day from your children -- about yourself, about them, about the world. And you teach something new every day to your children -- about themselves, about the world, about people, about life.

Being a new age parent has two sides too. You are tested/ tried/assessed every day -- by your kids, by family, by friends, by society. And you fail every day.

As a new age parent, I can say that some lessons are harder to teach your children than others. Here are three of my biggest challenges.

Lesson 1: The difference between right and wrong

Right and wrong are typically supposed to be as clear as black and white. If something is so distinctly apparent then it should be easy to teach it to anyone right? But life's not like that... those umpteen shades of grey muddy the waters. So things are either:

undeniably right,

arguably right,

partly right,

partly wrong,

acceptably wrong, and

unacceptably wrong.

And there-in lies the challenge. A lot of these "rights" and "wrongs" tend to be personal, situational, contextual, circumstantial and consequential. And hence very complex to comprehend and also extremely challenging to really teach any child.

From personal experience, I can say that the best way to teach morality to your children is to be a living example of what you want them to be and, more importantly, explain the rationale of your choices and decisions. Trust me! They do listen and understand! And they learn better when they really understand where you're coming from.

Lesson 2: Self-Control

Self-control is really about controlling your thoughts, your emotions, your behaviour, your reactions, your responses and your desires. And it is probably one of the most difficult virtues for anyone to build in the journey of life.

The fact of the matter is that most of us find it really hard to exercise self-control all the time, though the concept is easy enough to preach. The thing about self-control is that it is hard to theorise and teach. It is about learning, doing, practicing, improving and, most significantly, about awareness of yourself.

I have personally found that the best way to get your children to develop self-control is to demonstrate in yourself: No matter what! (It's tough for adults too). Typically, children emulate what they see in adults and in the world around them.

Lesson 3: Self-Discipline

If you read or hear about the life of anyone who achieved anything worthwhile, one of the key characteristics that will stand out is self-discipline. It is a precious and powerful asset for those who cultivate it and a lack of it becomes a personal liability.

The sad reality of today is that self-discipline is a dying virtue. Very few people are really disciplined about the way they conduct their lives. The reason why it is difficult to help children build this virtue is because there are so few real-life role-models for them to learn from and emulate.

The answer is this: you have to be that role model. You have to show them what self-discipline looks like. If you are disciplined about the way you conduct your life, chances are they will end up disciplined themselves.

If you are successful in teaching the above lessons to your children, I think you will leave them with a great legacy.

That's my view... What's yours? Leave a comment to let me know.

A version of this post appeared on the author's blog

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