A mother came to me last week seeking help to get her six-year-old to learn the alphabet the conventional way, as he was not able to grasp “a for apple” or “b for bat” as quickly as the other children in his class.
In the hour or so I spent with her, I realised how as a mother she had “become a victim” of the system — as many have before her — that creates parents with “blinders”. These parents have gone through the same factory system, processed and graded, with any anomaly herded into a section called “failure”.
This system does not encourage an alternate path to success and fulfilment, leaving parents of children, who are blessed in other ways, crestfallen and hopeless.
But history has shown us that children can break through their disability, their class, their environment to become great achievers. Albert Einstein, Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Tom Cruise — the list is endless. At the same time we have seen some children go to their graves at eight, never given the chance to blossom into the individual they were meant to be.
As I continued to listen to this mother I heard her unearth the various areas her child was shining in, which she could not see due to the blinders. Her six-year-old boy is actually interested in cooking and hopefully will be a great cook one day. He watches cookery shows on TV and YouTube and explains the process by drawing each step. As an advertising professional would infer a perfect storyboard, here was a child with a photographic memory.
When I mentioned this child to a senior professional, he shared how he had as a child felt suffocated because his talent for art and photography had been dismissed by his engineer father and teacher mother; how he felt he had never been able to pursue a career more suited to his strengths, succumbing to a mediocre and uninspired professional life.
Speaking to the majority (approximately 85 per cent) of parents today who used their right hand to pick up their tea cup in the morning: how would it feel if you were forced to use your left hand as a child to do the same?
If you truly want your child to succeed on his terms, speak the language he understands, not the language that you know. If he loves cooking, use that skill to help him learn the alphabet; if he loves cricket use the score sheet to teach him math; if he loves animals use that to teach him biology; and if he loves talking encourage him to take up leadership roles and serve. Observe your child and learn his strengths; listen to your child and speak his language; teach him from where he is.
You will see how quickly he learns.
This is an interactive column on parenting skills and child behaviour. If you have a query, write to email@example.com
— Sunaina Vohra is a certified Youth and Family Life Coach at Athena Life Coaching in Dubai. For more information log on to www.athenalifecoaching.com or call (+971) 56-1399033.