We are living in a world where skills are becoming obsolete at the drop of a hat. Adages and axioms are taking a completely different twist. The ‘matter-of-fact’ sounding statement - ‘Survival of the fittest’ is on the brink of transforming into ‘Survival of the friendliest’. We need our future generations to be innovative, kind, problem solvers, and intellectual optimists. Yes, the realist-kind of optimists, not the kind who gives a positive spin to everything just so that the world looks a little less harsh and unpleasant. We are inundated with data in the form of films, music, designs, ads, architecture, visual arts, and so on, but how do we teach our kids to not mindlessly consume all this and in turn become desensitized to the world around us. How do we help our children take in this avalanche of information and integrate it into their personalities to develop principles that will help them accept the lethal blows of life with the same grace that they display while reveling in the mellifluous high notes of their existence? How do we make them more adaptable and more open-minded? How do we help them deeply comprehend situations as opposed to just understand things on the surface? How do we help them assimilate ideas from various sources and knead it into something worthwhile? How do we help our kids become lovely beings such as communicators, poets, entertainers, prolific scientists who question culture rather than let culture wash over them? How do we help our kids to stay strong and not crumble under life’s many pressures? I am sure these questions haunt every responsible parent. So here comes the essential part, the least we can do as their guardians and educators is choose the content that will benefit our children in some way, create exercises around it, have a detailed discussion, enable kids to weave different ideas and stories around the content so that they don’t become mute spectators who unquestionably accept everything that comes their way. So for starters, I have chosen a few videos which you can show your kids - the kind of videos that are child-friendly, mind friendly, and soul friendly. Let’s see if we can help evolution create amazing human beings, and let’s do this together of course!
1. Tokri (The Basket): This stop motion film depicts that things are not going to be right in your life all the time. If we help pass on this message to our kids very early on that life is challenging, who told you otherwise? It’s going to save the kids a lot of heartaches once they grow up. This movie revolves around a girl who learns how to be accountable for her actions and takes the necessary steps to repair the damage she has caused to her father’s most favorite belonging - his hanging watch. She fails, but she tries nevertheless. This video will help you talk about resilience and rejection with your children. You could also help them reflect on the inherent essence of life - the fact that it is downright unpredictable - sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don’t. Here’s an activity you could assign your kids after watching the video: Do five things that will help your kids experience sure-shot rejection. Help them offer an olive branch to their fear of rejection. The nature of the activities could be outright silly and unrealistic and hence bound to be rejected, for e.g. ask a stranger to give you money for buying a spacecraft, ask the pizza outlet person to hire you as the delivery guy for a day, etc.
2. Story of a boy who hates his disabled dog: The self-acceptance zone is a very touchy and a tricky one, and kids especially can mask their scars with various filters and create unreasonable stories of denial just so that they don’t have to look straight in the mirror. Childhood is the malleable time to address these kinds of habits and instill a sense of inquiry in the psyche. In the video, a young disabled boy despises the sight of his disabled dog, perhaps he hasn’t come to terms with his own disability yet. You could observe your child’s habits and see if they have developed a sense of hatred for something/someone just because it reminds them of their inadequacies - which is nothing but a societal construct. Your discussion with your child could revolve around, why does that person/thing make you feel so miserable, do you see a slice of yourself in that object/subject, if yes, could you draw that slice, what does that slice look like, support your drawing with symbols and words. You could also ask your child to draw a self-portrait and see their reactions while they are busy with the task. The activity could be concluded by asking - do they accept each and every part of their face with absolute love (yes or no?), and then maybe you could have a meaningful talk around that, maybe you could also show them more pictures from the internet that match their description of defects just to help them identify that it’s a big beautiful universe and that we are not the only ones with problems.
3. Piper: The protagonist is a cute chick in the video who overcomes its fear of huge intimidating waves. This sweet film can teach children about the value of facing fears head-on. The challenge may look like an abominable monster at first, but facing it every day in dribs and drabs will make it a familiar sight, and help us invent new coping mechanisms. Here’s an activity you can try with your child after watching the film: you can ask them about the things that scare the hell out of them. Some of the expected responses could be, speaking up in front of the class, fear of getting bullied, not meeting teacher’s expectations, etc. Ask the child to think about what is stopping them to deal with these fears head-on - is it lack of confidence, mustering up courage, not able to be articulate and so on...they write their ‘hindrances’ on a chit and are asked to crumple it up and throw it in the garbage bin. You could sum up this experience with a short meditation activity - As they inhale they say ‘ I feel scared, anxious, weak, inconsequential ( modify the response as per the behavior of the child.). As they exhale, they say, ‘I release all my fears and ensure that I will face a little bit of these fear demons on a daily basis or whenever they arrive and try to take over me.’
4. One small step: Let’s not wait for the world to teach our children, let’s teach our children the ways of the world. The world will insist on violence, fierce competition, constantly climbing the ladder, materialistic goals, but we can insist on balance and equilibrium, we can insist on the importance of working hard but at the same time taking out time for our loved ones and caring for them. This video gives out a lovely message about caring for our folks while they are still alive. You can introduce activities such a visiting an old age home and reading out stories for old people, to your children, and help them understand that the idea of equilibrium involves not just doing things for ourselves but also serving others.
5. Hair Love: This is an effective video for children and parents alike. Parents can learn to dedicate the much needed time to their kids and the kids can learn that beauty does not essentially mean our skin, our flesh, our bones or our hair; it’s a quality, it’s existence, it’s everyday living, it’s our relationships, it’s the mundane-ness. You can ask your child to draw an art piece of their beautiful selves without the body, the face , the hair and the skin (an essence, not an embodiment). If they had to imagine a beautiful soul, what would they visualize? Encourage them to go bonkerish-ly creative with this activity.
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