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  3. Hitting And Yelling Do Not Help Children Become Successful Learners

Hitting And Yelling Do Not Help Children Become Successful Learners

Arun Sharma Arun Sharma 6 Mins Read

Arun Sharma Arun Sharma


To push children to excel, some parents go to any length—even physical abuse. One such instance has gone viral as a video and has even cricketer Virat Kohli fuming 'at the parent'.

Hitting And Yelling Do Not Help Children Become Successful Learners

'Hands folded, tears rolling down, kid begs for mercy as woman reprimands, assaults' - Doesn't this headline from India Today (19 August 2017) sound like a scene from a war movie?

But that is not the case.

Shockingly, it is the description of a distressing video of a child begging and pleading with someone (probably her mother or tutor) trying to teach her the numerals in maths. And, when the child struggles to learn what is being taught, the woman doesn't restrict herself to just scolding, she goes ahead and assaults the child. In the process, the child goes through a roller-coaster of emotions as she cowers in fear, then clenches her fists and teeth in anger.

This incident has come in for a lot of flak from cricketers such as Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh prompting angry outbursts from them.

In fact, Virat Kohli was so stunned by the video and could not prevent himself from reacting thus. "The fact that the pain and anger of the child are ignored and one's own ego to make the child learn is so massive that compassion has totally gone out of the window. This is shocking and saddening to another dimension. A child can never learn if intimidated. This is hurtful."

This instance should make us sit up and ponder about how we conduct ourselves as parents.

Let's reflect...

In our urge to give our children a better future, are we forgetting the fundamental rules of good parenting? Do we go to any lengths to ensure our children do well in academics? Do we ever worry about the trauma we cause our little ones by the abuse we heap on them while pushing them to perform well?

Here's an expert's analysis of the instance. Arundhati Swamy, Counsellor and the Head of Parent Engagement Programs at ParentCircle, Chennai shares her thoughts:

What went wrong in the video? The adult:

  1. Over-reacted, probably in frustration. She was focused on her own feelings, unaware of how her reactions were impacting the child.
  2. Gave vent to her frustration and anger, unmindful of the child's inability to understand what she was being taught.
  3. Used a harsh tone of voice, causing the child to become frightened. Fear, like any other difficult emotion, interferes with attention and comprehension.
  4. Slapped the child in uncontrollable anger, causing both physical and emotional pain.
  5. Focussed solely on the task at hand, which at those moments, became more important than the child's feelings of distress, fear, and pain.

Why was the adult harsh with the child?

The ways in which we interact with children are influenced by a number of factors - what we observed of our parents while growing up, parenting practices we have learned from watching how other parents raise their children, and the impact of our immediate circumstances and stresses.

In the video, the adult may have been harsh for the following reasons:

  1. She may have experienced punitive handling in childhood. Perhaps she believed that it was the right way to handle the situation, and she may not have known other ways to relate to the child.
  2. She may have been under the pressure to deliver results leaving no room for patience and empathy.  It's hard for a person to be held entirely responsible for the child's academic learning.
  3. She may have been struggling to deal with other stresses and pressures in her life. Thus her threshold for coping with frustration may have been low.
  4. She may have meant well for the child but did not know how to manage and regulate her emotions.

It's easy to point fingers and lay the blame on parents and caregivers, but let's not forget that empathy and guidance can help us grow as parents. Oftentimes parents feel helplessly trapped by difficult emotions and life experiences and lose control in challenging situations.

What you  can do to make your child's learning experiences pleasant and  enjoyable:

  • Set realistic expectations. Get to know your child's abilities, and identify areas that need extra attention. Your child will do better in certain subjects and may have a limited ability in others.
  • Ensure your child is rested, refreshed, and ready for study time. Setting a daily routine for study time helps you plan your time as well.
  • Prepare your child for study time. Let her know what to expect, and what subject she will be learning during that time.
  • Relax your child before she starts to do her studies. Play a short fun game with her, share a joke or riddle, or together sing her favorite song.
  • Show understanding and patience when your child struggles to learn a concept. Each child learns at a different pace.
  • Encourage your child when you see her work hard. An encouraged child feels capable and does not give up easily.
  • Become comfortable with the mistakes your child may make as she learns. Mistakes are an opportunity for your child to think and to find solutions.
  • Apologize for the occasional times you may lose your temper. Your child needs you to help her deal with the fear she feels from your anger.

Benefits for your child:

  • An adult's positive emotional state helps a child to relax, pay attention and concentrate well. A negative emotional state, on the other hand, inhibits thinking abilities. It leads to fear, struggle, confusion, and mental blocks.
  • Learning happens best when a child feels physically and emotionally safe, and when adults are firm and kind. A calm, relaxed and settled mind learns with enthusiasm and confidence.
  • Play-way methods make learning an enjoyable experience for a young child.

Let this video be a clarion call to all parents and tutors about the negative impact of harsh approaches on children. Let's take stock of the situation and set our parenting priorities right. Let's understand that inflicting pain will never set a child on the right path. On the contrary, it will irreparably damage a child's self-esteem and dignity. A daily routine, lots of hugs, empathy, encouragement, and realistic expectations help children feel settled and confident to learn new things. Above all, it will ensure that children have fun and learn as they grow.

As the American author, Donna Marie said, "Every happy memory created for a child is another treasure of a lifetime." Let us give children that treasure.

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