Helping a child listen to their inner voice is absolutely crucial! The inner voice is a beacon and every child or an adult can learn to listen to it. Here is a sneak-peak of how I helped my daughter cultivate the habit of listening to her inner voice.
My daughter was studying in grade 1. I usually pick her up from school and the first question I ask her while returning home is, “what is the one thing that you liked doing at school today?”. Then I tell her about my day and we drink our evening milk together (yeah, you read it right – I still love to drink milk).
One day, my daughter was a little quiet on the way from school. Her usual chirpiness was missing. A part of me desperately wanted to find out what had happened at school but the other part of me (I call it a matured version of me) said – “give her the time and space to open up ”.
After drinking milk, we settled down to play a board game and then she slowly opened up about her day at school.
My Daughter’s confession
I still remember the exact words she told me, she said, “Amma, I am a bad girl”. As a mother, I was taken aback by these words and waited for her to speak.
She further added, “My friend told me to tell (Name of the child) that she looked like a pig and that I hate her” there was a pause (as if my daughter wanted me to say something – but I let her continue instead)
She continued, “I really did not want to hurt (name of the child) but I had to say those mean things just to please my friends and I did not like it. Amma, do you think that I am a bad girl?”.
After her confession, I hugged her first and I told her, “I am glad that you spoke the truth”.
There were two things I wanted to address :
- How do I stop her thinking that she is a bad girl
- How do I let her know that she always has a choice to listen to her inner voice.
Well this is how I dealt with her that day:
1. How do I stop her from thinking that she is a bad girl
I strongly believe a child is not his/her actions. My daughter had believed that she was a bad girl (while the truth was she had behaved badly). This kind of negative thinking can lower a child’s self esteem. I explained to her that she is not her actions. she is in fact the person who acts. I also told her that, “you do not become a bad person if you do or say something mean. You are still a GOOD PERSON who had hurt her classmate and your actions do not define you.”
I reminded my daughter that she is valuable regardless of failure or her performance.
2. How do I let her know that she always has a choice to listen to her inner voice
Now I was wondering how I can weave a story to address this issue so she feels at peace with herself. I remembered a short Cherokee legend that i had heard / read when I was a young girl. I narrated the story to her that night as a bedtime story for her to heal.
Tale of two wolves- Listening to the inner voice
There was a young boy in a village who loved to listen to stories. He adored his grandfather and would visit him every day. The Grandfather always narrated the boy stories of war, animals, nature and that of the land.
One day this young boy asked his Grandfather to narrate him a new story. The Grandfather smiled naughtily and looked at young boy with love and told him one of the stories of life.
He said, ” On this very land, there are 2 wolves roaming who are mighty and immortal. Both are equally powerful and have the healthiest body and teeth. They want control over the other. Legend says that these two wolves are still fighting to this day.
The young boy said, “ Grandfather, could you show me these wolves fighting?”. The Grandfather replied, “the wise ancestors also told me that these wolves are invisible and that they can only be felt in our hearts”. The young boy was confused.
The Grandfather further said – My boy, these two wolves represent the GOOD and the EVIL within each person. The Good wolf represents all that is good – joy, happiness, hope, serenity, mindfulness, kindness, truth and faith and the Evil Wolf represents all that is bad – greed, arrogance, sorrow, anger, envy etc…”
These two wolves fight inside every person. It is there inside you and me. The Young Grandson, thought for a while and asked the Grandfather, “Which wolf usually wins?” to which the wise Grandfather replied “the one you feed”.
Finally, I ended my story with this, “Remember Yantra you always have a choice…….. These two wolves reside inside us. It is up to us to feed the right one.”
I also told her to apologise to her classmate.
After a couple of days, my daughter heard our watchman yelling at someone over the phone, she quietly told me, “Amma, the watchman Anna’s bad wolf won today.”
I just smiled and hugged her tightly.
Here are some thoughts to consider …………..
I want to emphasise that a child is not his/her actions
No child is bad. A child sometimes behaves badly. A child may sometimes say inappropriate things or act in a manner that is questionable and not healthy to the people around. This does not mean the child is a bad person. Catch the children doing good deeds and appreciate them. This will enhance their self esteem rather than catching them doing a wrong deed and correcting them.