Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 17th 2014 Contents A34
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Last week we talked about mak-
ing sure we give our children and
everyone else the gift of time.
Let s go a step further!
We need to be very careful that
the time we give is of a flavour
and quality that will serve to
enhance and build the self-esteem
of others---and add, not detract
from their daily cups of joy.
Sometimes we can crush a
child s or a grown person s self-
esteem and self-image, albeit
unintentionally. The harshness of
what we say can linger on and can
be remembered for a long time.
We can all practise to be more
mindful of our words and actions
when it comes to the practice of
interacting with others on a daily
basis. This time of year is a great
time to start!
Picture the child who is boast-
ing to his parents in front of his
other siblings about the fact that
he got a B in English or Math. He
is thrilled and is beaming at the
dinner table as he recalls that last
Yet, his good news is hardly
noticed; no one else appears to be
excited and moreover his father
does find a minute to say, "I really
thought that this term you would
be getting an A." At this, the child
recoils, eats his dinner and is silent
for the rest of the evening.
His esteem is crushed; he feels
unloved, worthless and unappre-
ciated, and later, will take out his
frustration and feelings of resent-
ment on his younger brothers and
even on his classmates when he
returns to school the next day.
Bullying has become a problem
and a good place to start is in the
home by being mindful of our
words and the quality of attention
that we give to our children and
to one another.
It is easier to buy a toy or give
some money in a card at Christ-
mas time, isn t it? It is tough to
make changes but real change
begins with that first step, an
awareness of the habit we want
to change and then a commitment
that we will make that change one
step at a time. We all need to pay
more attention to the way we
interact with one another and we
can all do better.
I also must make the point that
a child s self-esteem can be affect-
ed directly as in the scenario I
described. But, at times our chil-
dren s self-esteem is also indirectly
affected by the way we treat one
another in front of children.
Picture the dinner table again.
Of course, I commend the family
for even having dinner together
because in many homes a terrible
habit has evolved---everyone eats
in his or her room in front of the
On this occasion, this family is
having dinner together and this
is great but there has been a silent
war between the parents for a few
They think that their secret is
safe---but the children know. You
know, the old saying, "Actions
speak louder than words." Well,
it s true and children almost
always know when things are not
right between their parents.
On this particular evening, there
is polite conversation. The father
talks to the children and asks
about their day. The mother
makes general comments about
what happens at work. But there
are no words directed at each
other; there is no touching
between their parents; there is no
eye contact, and in fact they don t
look at each other at all.
While they may not quarrel or
raise their voices in front of the
children, the silence between them
has its own voice and the children
feel the tension and wish it could
They wish that their parents
could be kind and loving with each
They really think they would
prefer this gift this Christmas, a
lot more than all the presents they
know their parents will place
under the tree.
The children wonder if they will
have to mask their worry again.
They have been worried that
their parents will get a divorce
and they are sick with concern
about the overwhelming sadness
in their mother s eyes.
The fear is real and well-placed
because I think that a person s
sadness and inner unhappiness is
like a cancer that eats away at
his/her self-esteem every day.
This Christmas, let us resolve
to make those tough changes that
will really bring true joy to us and
to others, not only this Christmas
but throughout the years to come.
Please contact me at thestark-
firstname.lastname@example.org with questions
and/or comments. My Web site is
'Sometimes the most precious gifts in life are free'
DR MONICA STARKE
The Starke Reality
His esteem is crushed; he
feels unloved, worthless
and unappreciated, and
later, will take out his
frustration and feelings of
resentment on his younger
brothers and even on his
classmates when he returns
to school the next day.
Bullying has become a
problem and a good place to
start is in the home by
being mindful of our words
and the quality of attention
that we give to our children
and to one another.
We can all practise to be more mindful of our words and actions when it
comes to the practice of interacting with others on a daily basis.
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