Children find their ways to grab the attention of the people around them. For that reason, they don’t mind even indulging in mischievous activities that could irritate their audience. One of the common irritants your child might resort to is to demand for items that he/she might already know he/she would not get. And we tend to reciprocate with the mistake of simply appending to the series of denials we would have already made. Has a plain denial ever given you a solution for any problem? In most likelihood, no. So what is the ‘ideal’ way out of such situations with children? Well, you should undoubtedly say no to anything unacceptable but in a subtle way and with a justification to help children understand why you denied it.
You might have realised at some point that punishment cannot be a solution for any of the issues with children. In fact, the children who are physically or psychologically punished are likely to display worse behaviour. As much as they have the right for survival, protection, health care, food, and water, they also can demand for opportunities and justifications that will help them be satisfied and harness their complete potential. A child may not be aware of why he/she feels a strong desire for something. So it is up to us, the care givers, to help children identify what is relevant for them and what is not, but through explanations.
In a classroom setting, it does get challenging for a teacher to show equal attention to all the children, particularly because every child has a different way of learning and reacting. However, it is important to address each of their requirements. To prepare for such situations, a teacher may choose to educate children on when to seek attention and how to do it the ideal way. For instance, if a child feels left out in the class because he/she does not get a chance to participate in an activity or express his/her ideas/opinions, rather than waiting eternally for the teacher to call him/her out, he/she can seek to participate by politely expressing his/her desire to the teacher. Many children tend to remain silent in such situations because either they do not understand/care what good active participation does or they are scared to articulate their urge to play an active role. So, the onus is on the teachers to make them aware of their participation rights and their benefits to help them come out of the closet.
Participation does not essentially relate only to scenarios with a group of people involved. Taking care of one’s own routine is also a display of participation. And then, what better deed can we quote than that of helping others in times of distress? A participative person always keeps people comfortable in his/her company. Children need to be made aware of all the goodness of participating actively in all kinds of activities that would leave a positive impact on them and on others.
Children like to indulge in any activity that appeals to them. When something interests children, we deem to believe that it is going to help them learn something or the other. However, while they enjoy performing the activity, they should also be able to identify what in the activity will help them acquire what skills/knowledge. For instance, if a child develops a sudden pleasure in gardening, it is good to let him/her indulge in it as much as he/she likes, but while he/she performs the various tasks, you should explain to him/her what useful qualities/knowledge he/she is gaining from it and how they are relevant to his/her development. You might wonder how this is related to the topic in question — development rights. Well, wouldn’t it be developmentally beneficial for children if they know how to cash on the opportunities that come to them and thus realise their full potential? But then, it is the care givers’ duty to ensure that they get adequate opportunities to acquire education, participate in cultural and social activities, understand conscience and religion, and learn to tailor their ideas to suit various situations and for the benefit of all.
As much as we need to respect children’s protection, we need to also educate them of the protection rights that they are entitled for at all places. Children are often not fully aware of the situation they are in. Be it in school — where they spend most of the day, at home — where they experience all the freedom they need, or outside — where they are bound to face many surprises, children might feel confident to face any kind of situation but they might not be completely equipped for them. It is up to the care givers to protect them from ill-treatments by educating them of the various scenarios that they might face.
We need to help children be aware of all forms of abuse, neglect, and exploitation that happens at different places to many of their generation. We could communicate examples of such situations through stories, songs, movies, etc. However, while we indulge in expressing such strong messages, we need to adopt approaches that are sensitive to the children’s nature and maturity. This is a call one will have to take on a case-to-case basis.
There are a number of other rights that we should explain to children as and when we think they are ready to take them. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act of the Parliament provides certain guidelines to ensure that all laws, policies, programmes, and administrative mechanisms are defined as per the Child Rights perspective as given in the Constitution of India and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In practice, we should give children all those rights at home and at school, as applicable, so they realise how useful they are for them. All of us know that we must not treat children as our property and that they should be subject to their own rights. We are only there to guide and support them through situations that are new to them and prepare them to be strong and competent to confidently step into the future.