International Youth Day: Swami Vivekananda's Message to Parents
On the occasion of International Youth Day, let's revisit a few timeless messages of Swami Vivekananda, the eternal youth icon.
By Team ParentCircle
Born Narendranath Dutta on 12 January 1863, Vivekananda was one of the eight children of Vishwanath Datta and Bhubaneswari Devi. As a young boy, he was mischievous and intelligent, and deeply influenced by his parents, especially his mother, a strong and pious individual.
Young Narendranath's quest for knowledge brought him into contact with Sri Ramakrishna at the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple in Kolkata. From here began Narendranath's transformation into Swami Vivekananda, the monk who would one day become a world-leading thinker-philosopher.
Although Swamiji passed away at the young age of 39, he left behind a treasure trove of wisdom for mankind. Today, on his birthday, we bring to you some of his important life lessons, which we should also teach our children.
Boost self-confidence: Swami Vivekananda preached that 'You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.' He always exhorted everyone to have faith in themselves and their abilities. An incident from his life best illustrates this point.
Once Swamiji was walking down a path when he was confronted by a group of monkeys. As he was about to turn back and run, he heard a voice telling him, ‘Face the animals’. Swamiji changed his decision and stood his ground. He stared at the monkeys and they finally moved away.
Children who lack confidence struggle in every sphere of their life. They are hesitant, lack the courage to take risks and are unable to cope with challenges. So, it is vital to boost your child's self-confidence. To do this, teach her how to problem-solve and take decisions. Also, work on developing her resilience and encouraging her independence.
Develop positive feelings: "Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually and spiritually, reject as poison," said Swami Vivekananda.
As children grow up, some of their positivity, optimism and confidence is replaced with negative feelings. They begin doubting their abilities, feel sad and worthless, and lose interest in activities.
When you see negative feelings taking over your child's mind, help him get back to being his positive self again. Convey to your child how much he means to you and how much you love him. Tell him about the moments in his life that made him feel happy and fulfilled. Speak to him about his strengths and how good he is at certain activities. Teach him to appreciate the beautiful things in his life.
Connect with inner self: "Talk to yourself at least once in a day. Otherwise you may miss a meeting with an excellent person in this world." These words of Swamiji stress the importance of connecting with our inner self.
To children, the world is a very fascinating and interesting place. And, as they grow older, they become absorbed in various activities, thinking about their future, planning how to reach their goals and so on. They barely have time to connect with their feelings or listen to their inner voice. Over time, this disconnect makes them feel stressed and exhausted.
When your child is feeling lost and unhappy, help her connect with her inner self. Encourage her to think about what motivates her, what she wants for herself, what her passions are, and what values she holds dear. Gently, get her to contemplate on the consequences of her actions.
Set goals and achieve them: "Arise! Awake! And stop not until the goal is reached." This is one of the most important life lessons imparted by Swamiji.
Like adults, children also need purpose in life, without which they will never be able to harness their potential. Setting goals and working towards achieving them, plays a very important role in helping a child work to a plan, feel responsible and accountable. Doing so also inspires him to push himself.
Together with your child, set goals and prepare a plan on how he can achieve them. Start by setting simple, short-term goals that can be achieved in a few days — for example, improving his handwriting or settling into a daily routine. This will help your child warm up to the idea and then, help him plan long-term goals — for example, securing the first position in the final exams or winning the debate competition in the coming year. Also, motivate him to work hard and be persistent.
Be grateful: "Who is Helping You, Don’t Forget them. Who is Loving you, Don’t Hate them. Who is Believing you, Don’t Cheat them." These immortal words of Swami Vivekananda tell us how important it is for us to be appreciative and thankful.
Some children are never satisfied, keep finding faults, always want to have their way, push the limits and assume no responsibility. They feel that they are entitled to everything and thus never feel thankful to their parents or others.
If you don't wish to see such qualities in your child, teach her early on to be grateful. Model grateful behaviour by appreciating what others do for you and being thankful to them. Motivate her to work hard for what she wants, instead of fulfilling her every demand. Teach your child to say prayers, share with others and say 'thank you'.
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