By Volunteer Sneha Pai, FHI Bangalore
Children, the pillars of the nation must be cognizant and empathic towards the happenings of the society. But with the unrest going on nowadays in the form of riots and protests and the still prevalent, if not increasing caste and gender discrimination, it can be overwhelming for even adults to process and cope with, let alone children. One can only imagine the turmoil and curiosity going on in the young minds. Some fortunately have the right guidance to show them what is right, while others, unfortunately, do not have such an exposure and remain oblivious about what is right and wrong.
Children are typically ingenuous, they tend to trust adults unconditionally. We must use this as an opportunity to be more approachable to children and hear them out. It is crucial to welcome our young friends to share any disarrays they may have. There are a few ways that might help us have the much needed open ended discussion at the schools we visit.
We can ask the children individually or in a group to share anything they wish to, ask us questions on selected topics they’ve wanted to know more about but were unsure of whom to talk to, and any thoughts they have been withholding. Some social issues like caste discrimination can be tackled like this. Kids might have heard of caste discrimination and may or may not have experienced it. We could ask them to share their knowledge about this, their experience and how they coped up with it.
Another way awareness can be inculcated into kids about social issues is by celebrating some of the global awareness days like International Women’s day, mental health awareness week and so on. Issues such as gender discrimination can be highlighted well by organising small events on these dates. By acknowledging the contributions of women in many fields and through other activities, we can make great strides in building a positive mindset about gender equality in children at a young age.
It is the need of the hour to discuss and look after our mental health. Children are no exception. We can help them open up and share their thoughts and experience about this topic. Something to keep in mind is that children might not open up about their fears and confusions readily. It is essential to build an open environment where we talk, exchange thoughts, and create awareness. That will help in eliminating the disarrays and have a positive impact on the budding minds.