My elder daughter turned 10 a month ago. These are interesting times for her, but confusing and scary too. Being a mother, my heart goes out to her when I see her trying to comprehend the emotional changes she is undergoing. Nowadays, I am her biggest friend as well as the bitterest of enemies. So there are so many things I want to tell her but am unable to.
If she would listen to me, this is what I want to share with her.
#9 Work hard to earn praise
We all want others to think highly of us. Even we adults crave for it, so if a kid like you wants the same, that’s perfectly natural.
However, if you become so obsessed with the idea that you keep talking highly of yourself all the time, that’s not acceptable. Because it amounts to boasting.
You should aim for earning praise and not boasting.
It’s really simple to be praised – excel in whatever you do, and others will definitely praise you. And when I say excel, I mean it in a non-competitive way.
Put your 100% into whatever you do and that is good enough for you, me and everyone else. This is the age when your efforts are praised even if you don’t achieve the “best results.”
Take my word for it even if you don’t believe it.
#8 Be sincere
There is no substitute for sincerity.
And sincerity is what will propel you to work hard despite all odds. Sincerity will earn you admiration from peers and praise from teachers. And I know that you desperately want both.
If you are sincere in your efforts, you are bound to excel, on all social and personal parameters.
#7 Humility is a virtue
Remember I bought you a dictionary some moths back? I know you have not yet developed the habit of reaching out for it to look up a new word. So I’ll tell you the meaning of humility. And virtue.
Humility means being modest.
Virtue means good quality.
You should not think that whatever you say or do is the most correct and important. Listen to what others say. Pay attention to what others are doing. Be alert to your environment and observe keenly. You will learn a lot.
All great men and women that you can name, from Mahatma Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru to Sachin Tendulkar and Amitabh Bachchan, are or have been humble beings. Always ready to listen to others – younger or older – and learn from them.
And that is what you must aim for if you want to become a good human being.
#6 Do what you feel is correct. Don’t be swayed by what friends say.
It feels great to see you forming deeper bond with your friends and developing “true” friendships. Now whole class is not your friend. Your group comprises 3-4 girlfriends with whom you share everything from tiffin box and homework woes to secret girly talks.
I am so happy for you because I know how important friends are in one’s life.
However, I want to put in a word of caution here. Don’t lose your individuality in the group. Don’t be swayed by what your friends say or do. Weigh their words and actions for their true meaning before embracing it. And if you feel something is not right, be unafraid to say so.
Your fear of committing an error should be more overpowering than the fear of losing your friend.
And remember, you will never lose true friends just because you contradicted them.
#5 Parents will always want the best for you
I know you feel we are the one hindrance to everything that is fun. That we always seem to find fault with whatever you do. That we don’t understand you and your thought processes.
My angel, I wish to tell you that we stop you at times so that you don’t get carried away and do something you will regret.
We correct you whenever we feel the line between right and wrong or acceptable and unacceptable is blurring.
And above all, I want you to know that we understand you – at times better than you – because we have already experienced the same phase in life.
#4 Gestures speak more than words
God gave us two eyes, two ears and one mouth. Just as a reminder that we should speak half of what we see or hear.
But you also need to remember that your body has its own language that does not need words. The way you stand, the sparkle or disappointment of your eyes, the expression on your face, etc. They all speak a language of their own which is more powerful than any word you might utter.
So learn to control what, when and how you speak, and try to learn the positive language of body – posture, hand placement, foot placement, facial expressions, etc.
Never forget that gestures speak more than words.
#3 All is not lost if you don’t win this time
Remember I talked about being non-competitive earlier? I will repeat. Even if it’s at the cost of being boring.
You are always encouraged to be competitive, be it sports, academics, hobby or something else. But, like too much of ice cream in the mouth will give you a sensation of heat rather than cold, too much of competition will do you more harm than good.
Competition robs you of the joy of the moment, be it reading, writing, playing games, art, or any other favorite activity.
So just slow down, calm down, and revel in whatever you are doing. Enjoy the process as much as the result. When you start enjoying, you will also start doing much better.
Put your desire to win on hold and focus on excelling. The desired results will follow automatically, sooner or later.
#2 Be honest to yourself
Since you were a kid, aged 3 years or so, I have repeatedly told you not to lie, to be honest.
Today I want to dwell a bit longer on this, because honesty is what will take you far in your life. Build your character and make you a good human being.
Whatever you do, you should be honest to yourself. Whenever you have doubts about any of your actions, close your eyes and ask yourself, should I do this? Would I want this to happen to me?
Say you want to eat chocolate. You open the fridge to find a last slab of chocolate. Should you eat or should you share it with your younger sister? Ask yourself. If you feel like having it, go ahead and enjoy without any guilt. But if you want to share it with your sister, that is even better.
Do what your heart says, and stick with that version of your wish. Have faith in yourself. If you feel later that what you had done was wrong, take it as a lesson for future and don’t repeat your mistakes.
If you are honest to yourself only then you can be honest to others.
#1 You are precious
I got a new life when you entered it. My view of the world changed when you opened your eyes for the first time. My purpose in life changed directions when you took your first steps.
You are special because of everything that you made me feel, and continue to make me feel.
You are more precious than the most precious things in the world.
And that’s a truth that will remain true for ever and ever.
Over to You
What are the challenges that you see your daughter facing? How are you helping her cope? Do share your experiences in comments below.