What is that a child really wants?
What is it that the child most wants from the adults?
A new gadget; A play station to play games; New shoes; Designer trendy clothes; A trip to Disney World…
Who would not need all these? External Indulgences are always captivating and welcome by all, irrespective of the age.
Oh, YES! We are well-read people, we know that the child wants our ‘QUALITY TIME’.
But, ever wondered, what this ‘quality’ of time is? Sitting with child, Talking to child about his day, playing a game, having meals together…. Yes, all of this is quality time, but, ‘What is special in this time being spent, doing all these activities with the child? What is that quality of time that the child is seeking the most?’
What all children or even we adults ‘truly yearn for’ goes much deeper, especially from the people who we presume love and care for us. For young children they are the parents, and as we grow, teachers, grandparents, care-takers, friends, special friends, etc… also start getting included in this list of loving and caring people.
Every socially active human being wants an attentive acceptance from his/her loved ones on these three points:
• Do you see me?
• Do I have any worth?
• Do I matter to you?
When a person feels seen, feels worthy, and feels they matter, he/she grows up to live an empowered life.
The external means and modes that are provided by these loved ones, starting from the rudimentary needs like house, clothing, food, etc. to the luxurious one’s like gadgets, designer labels, excursions, or even the best of education (specifically in case of a child), essentially make the life comfortable and provides a feel good factor about his/her social positioning. But, how this person sees him/her selves and feel about self is inter-connectivity dependent upon how he/she is seen and felt within the inner social circle comprising mainly immediate family. This is clearly evident and gets reflected in the connections these immediate key people experience with him/her.
It’s through the gaze, presence, attention of the parents that children develop a strong sense of self. When children aren’t valued for who they are rather for what they achieve, they grow up as anxious performance driven adults. And failures could also lead them to depression.
It’s essential to communicate them their importance in everyday interactions, not in the form of over-boarded overt praises but by the means of acknowledging their presence, observing them and specifically specifying what was seen and observed.
Deprivation of attention from the loved ones, is worldwide noticed as the primary cause of low self-esteem in children and adults leading to engagement in self-harm. Self-harm could be in the form of diminishing indulgence, over indulgence or both. Diminishing indulgence like lack of interest in any activity, loss of appetite, loss of physical body functions like balance and control, depressive behaviour, etc. Over indulgence like addiction(s) of alcohol, or drugs, or even food as over-eating, or physical pleasures seeking behaviour like sex-addiction or inducing self-pain through cutting themselves. All of these are desperate cries for attention, manifestations of a deep yearning to be seen, noticed and known.
Our sense of self is dependent upon being seen and affirmed for our instinctive being. Similarly, for a child to develop a solid sense of self, he/she must be seen and affirmed for who he/she intrinsically is. This further helps them to develop a sense of worth from our daily behaviour with them, whether we connect with them and their unique individuality or impose our ideas and our cloned self on them.
Instead of verbally expressing love to a child or loved one, what matters is how we make them feel our love for them. Rather than judging and comparing the child or loved one to a fanciful aspirational idea or thought that we may be carrying, accepting them the way they are in their unique ordinance – let’s treasure them to allow them to treasure themselves. Flourishment of the sense of self-worth in the child or a loved one, needs that we actually look at them, listen to them, and unbiasedly love them.
Today, before going to them, let’s hear what they have been repeatedly silently asking, “Can you see me for who I am, separate from your dreams and expectations for me, separate from your agenda for me?”, repeatedly asking “Do you see me?”. Let’s make sure to answer them, instill in them the powerful sense of self that will carry them successfully through life.
Let’s Empower Our Children, Empower Our Loved Ones, With Our Attention
– before it’s too late for our actions to have an influence…
– Blog by Sangeeta A. Khurana, Director @ THOTS Lab