Today I had a discussion with the father of a girl at my community centre. He is a daily wage electrician who was unable to handle his kid because of his anger. He confessed he uses bad words.
I told him that for the next 15 years he should just accept his child as his Guru. The kid would teach him more about life. I asked him not to yell at his daughter. If he was furious, he could go to an empty field and yell to his heart’s content.
I told him, “I have started some intervention which benefits her. You will see the benefits only after six months. Be patient with her, I will not rest till she enters 6th standard with the ability to understand the Tamil and English books she is reading. And expose her to varied levels of Maths training for 5th standard.
I don’t treat her like other kids because mock anger or scolding doesn’t work. She freezes completely and doesn’t respond to such aggression. For few of kids in the community centre, I am dedicating half an hour daily. If you want her to be more patient and learn skills, you include her in real life experiences. Ask her to go shopping and buy things.”
He complained, “Sir last week I gave Rs 50 to buy idli as I didn’t have change. We usually buy Rs 10 worth idlis. That day she bought idlis for Rs 50”.
I explained how he could handle the situation and teach her how to bring the right amount. I said, “You go to the shopkeeper and fix things in advance. Tell him to pack only Rs 10 worth idly. Give your daughter Rs 50. Don’t give her further instructions. Let her ask. When she goes out, see whether she comes back with correct change, and whether she learnt from her previous experience. If she didn’t, ask her to go back and bring the change. Tell her how much she needs to collect from the shopkeeper. Do this more often. Speak to the shopkeepers to help you. Ask your wife also to include her in activities around the house. You involving her in these activities is a great first step.”
She is a dreamer and very compassionate. She doesn’t like it when I scold other kids. She does not like bullies whether it is her teacher or her father. I feel that she will be stronger than others because at a young age she sees the ill effects of yelling. Personally, I do not want to shout at the kids either. But, I have to do it to make them understand and to prepare them to be able to face any bully in the future. I am one teacher for 33 students. I need to adopt some strict measures to discipline the kids.
As her teacher, I allow her some free space. She gets distracted by crowds and does not like too much noise. I let her solve the math problems on her own too. I told the father that he needed to stop using bad words and yelling in front of his mother, wife, and daughter.
I said to him, “You are doing a great job to take care of your family. But you are also drinking a lot. You should stop it. You are in a 15-year project to help your child. You can drink when she clears her 12th standard exam. If you drink regularly, she will assume it is natural for a man to drink. She will allow her husband also to drinkil and yell. This will be harmful to her in future. From now on, don’t drink. I will be able to smell it on you.”
He agreed to work on his behaviour and help set a good example to his little girl.
About the writer Lakshmi Narasimhan Lachin
Lakshmi Narasimha runs a community centre at MGR Nagar for 35 kids who are from underprivileged background. He started this centre to ensure that the children have a support system after school hours too. A system that will provide holistic development through Yoga, academics, environmental education and health and hygiene. He feels that after school, education is crucial for the kids from slums and low-income families. If left unattended these children will sway away from academics and pick up inappropriate habits. And this would lead to social problems like alcoholism, gender discrimination, needless violence, and psychological issues.
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