Friday, July 08, 2011

AGGRESSION, VIOLENCE AND CHILDREN

The day I realized that my 3.5 year old daughter started imitating my angry expressions and body language, I started becoming very conscious of my anger and my reaction to unpleasant situations. I realized raising one’s voice could sound so ugly and violent only after I saw her do it. I have now started controlling my temper and language, even when she is not around.

My daughter loves enacting scenes either from her favourite fairy tale or imitate her teachers at school. We also enjoy watching her do this but what she did the other day shocked me. She suddenly started yelling on top of her voice “Get out of the class” in English and in Tamil. I asked her what she was talking about but she repeatedly kept saying “Get out the class. Why did you spill the water?” On asking her if her teacher yelled this way, she said “No, not our teacher but I saw this through the window of another classroom while playing outside”. Well, I was relieved that this did not happen in her class and at the same time wasn’t sure if it is okay. Though my first thought was go and tell the school about this, I also thought, as parents, when we lose temper with our own kids, what more could be expected from a regular school with regular teachers who have to deal with brats of all sizes every day of the week.

I have always tried to keep my daughter away from violence. I consciously avoid showing her violent stuff on TV. Great! What else? I tell her traditional, mythological stories. I told her the story of Lord Ganesha and how Lord Shiva chops off Lord Ganesha’s head. Boy! How much more violent can it get? She loves to watch shows like Little Krishna, Krishna-Balaram and Chota Bheem on TV, though most of the time innocent and cute, these shows are mostly about bashing up the bad guys. Then, we sing Rhymes - the Mother Goose rhymes. An innocent sleeping baby falls off the cradle (Rock-a-bye-baby) and a poor old man gets thrown down the stairs just because he couldn’t say his prayers (Goosy Goosy Gander). As a student of Literature I know that most of these rhymes were written in the social context of England during various periods. I don’t teach my daughter rhymes that are irrelevant but can I stop her school? (Thank God for the new syllabi at schools which have new rhymes, apart from some old ones).

I even avoid telling her, at bedtime, her 2 favourite stories – namely Robot (the movie) and Rapunzel. Both of these have shades of violence, how much ever I edit it.

I take my daughter’s favourite characters and make up my own bed-time stories. My daughter loves them and in the bargain, I sleep well too but there’s so much violence everywhere in so many forms. And for how long will I be able to shield my little one from aggression and violence. Of course, I do explain in her own language that is not nice to hit or yell at someone. The TV luckily has a remote control but what about life? Should I let her explore the world on her own and figure it out herself because today hatred, violence and blood-shed are all part of daily life? If I look, I am sure there must be some way of raising my daughter who will be aware that violence does exist but will be strong enough to choose love!

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