Eat your food, there are kids starving in India
Today I was chatting with my good friend Zahra, the yoga goddess.
She was asking me about how I respond to
the common parenting idea of
trying to get your kids to eat all their food and
to value what they have by mentioning to them
that there are people much worse off in the world
than they are.
“Be grateful for what you have because there are
parts of the world where people don’t even have
enough to eat or a place to live.”
The two main parenting approaches
This really comes back to the basic
parenting approach that we take.
There are two main approaches in general.
We can choose to deal with the immediate situation,
the behavior that is happening at this moment
We can pay more attention to the long-term attitudes,
skills, knowledge and values that
we are imparting to our kids.
Modifying behaviour creates resentment
For example if we are concerned about their behavior in the moment
we could say something like there are kids starving
in India so you should eat your food.
If we are going to be more concerned about
passing along good attitudes and values ,
and caring about the kind of person they turn out to be,
then we need to take a different approach.
This means inspiring our kids to actually
care about those children in India
so that they want to help them.
Using those “starving kids” as leverage
to control our children’s behavior
is emotional manipulation and
can only make them resentful.
This will certainly not inspire them
to want to help others,
but in fact will create a selfish motivation
because their freedom is being limited.
Anytime our freedom is limited
we look for ways to push back
Sometimes we push back against
a restriction on freedom
by going within,
becoming quiet and reserved
Sometimes the pushback is more external,
becoming aggressive and rebellious.
In either case the motivation for how we behave
is external and not internal.
By that I mean we are teaching them to
react to how we have treated them
rather than listening to their own heart
and making their decisions based on
what it is telling them.
Instead of controlling their behavior
inspire the qualities of compassion and taking action
Inspiring your child to truly care about the less fortunate
is a much longer and more difficult path to take.
Conscious parenting means
always asking yourself important questions
It means you must constantly be asking yourself
if how you are treating them is
in harmony with that path or not.
I try and pay attention to every choice and every word
when I’m interacting with my daughter
When I’m about to make a decision on how to react
to my child
I am always asking myself
“Is this in alignment with my principles?”
The principle being teaching for the long term
rather than controlling or correcting
the immediate behavior.
Correction is less effective than connection
In my observation, nine times out of ten
a correction produces the opposite effect
to the one we intend.
It is almost always better connect with and validate our children.
It is almost always better to inspire them
with what they are doing well,
and to enhance what their beautiful qualities are
rather than pointing out their mistakes.
Make a habit of inspiration and education
If we can get into the habit of doing this
we will be truly offering them the kind of
education that we want for them.
We will instill deep, positive,
foundational and life long lessons.