The lack of maturity to accept failures is seen not only in schools but at later stages when youth behave erratically.
How can my son get low marks in mathematics, he is a first-ranker always?” yelled an angry father at the helpless and bewildered teacher. The teacher politely told the parent that the student of Standard VII committed some errors which reduced his marks. The unconvinced parent took the issue to the headmaster. After listening patiently to the parent, the HM called for the answer-sheet. On verification, he found that the teacher was right and that the answers for three questions were wrong, which resulted in relatively low marks; the boy got the fourth rank, nevertheless.
The HM showed the answer-sheet to the parent and asked him to be reasonable and realise that any student was prone to committing errors while answering questions in a hurry. He should know that it was not possible for a student to get the first rank always, since equally good students were in competition. It was only a unit test and the healthy competition should not be vitiated by parents interfering in these matters. Such action could harm the student himself vis-à-vis his relation with co-students.
The parent said that his son was upset and unable to accept the lower rank. The HM then advised him not to put pressure on the student to score high marks and to leave him to his capacity. “Allow him to realise that his mistakes cannot be rewarded whoever he is.” Also, the parent should teach his son to be prepared to accept failures with equanimity and to face challenges. As an educated man, he should know the principles of ideal parenting and avoid building up tensions for himself and his son. He should not let his son think that his father would always come to school when he got low marks.
The HM explained the danger of pampering children too much in the initial stages which would only negatively impact them in the later stages of life. The parent appeared convinced, thanked the HM and left the room satisfied with the useful interaction. He apologised to the teacher for his hasty action, and thus showed the sign of a responsible parent.
This incident might be quite common in many schools, leading to rivalry among students, teachers and parents. In the past, parents never put pressure on children in their studies. They allowed them to put in their best efforts, and advised them not to lose heart when faced with temporary failures. This helped their wards to be prepared to face the challenges of life. Now, with high competition at every stage of education, right from the nursery school, the anxiety of parents shoots up as they want their son/daughter to be at the top always.
While there is nothing wrong in the parents' genuine desire to induce high ambitions in their children, the problem arises when parents lose their balance and put heavy demands on the children. When the sons/daughters fail to come up to their expectations, they say harsh words affecting the children mentally.
The recent phenomenon of suicide among students unable to bear poor performance in classes, triggered by the scolding by the teacher and admonition by the parents, is a case in point. This does not augur well for the proper growth of young people in the formative stages of mental development. The lack of maturity to accept failures is seen not only in schools but at later stages when youth behave erratically. Misbehaviour with girls, in extreme circumstances leading to murder and other crimes by some youth unable to accept failures in love matters, can be traced to poor parental upbringing at the right stage. Herein lies the importance and relevance of proper parental care, with the sole objective of bringing up children in a disciplined way. What with many negative forces in society influencing and corrupting young minds, parents have the daunting task of rescuing their wards and moulding them into good citizens. In the present day context, ideal parenting involves care, compassion, companionship and guiding children in the right direction to blossom into responsible citizens. Failure to do so will result in unhappiness in the family and the growth of anti-social elements in society.
To sum up, children should be given value-based education from the beginning. Also, schools and colleges should give well-structured counselling to parents also so that students can be put on the right path fortified with mental capacity and the moral fibre to meet future challenges.
(The writer is President, Society for Hunger Elimination, Tirupati. His email ID is: firstname.lastname@example.org)