Learning from Children
-- by Nandini NagpalWhat could a child possibly teach me? I have seen more of the world than the child has! And it is the responsibility of adults to teach children. Not the other way around?
This would have been my response a few years ago if someone had even suggested the possibility of learning through children. Today, I feel that children are one of our greatest teachers! What led to this 180 degree change in mindset?
I moved to Singapore in 2007 with my husband and 6 year old son. I was 2 months pregnant with my second child and this was the first international move for all of us. I feel too many changes took place in a very short span of time and my son’s confidence level plummeted to an all time low. My husband and I were going through our share of stress as well and emotionally, things were not going as well as I had hoped. It was then that I started looking out for a confidence- building program for my son. So, I began surfing the web and SoulKids popped up! I read the website in great detail loving everything that it contained! It seemed to be the perfect answer! But I did not make a call to enroll my son. What was stopping me? I would read the website almost every day but I still didn’t enroll him. What I did not realize was that I was extremely low on self-confidence and courage as well! On hindsight, how could I have possibly given him any confidence when I had almost none myself?
Two years went by. I was ready to re-start a career that would give me some flexibility. One morning, as I was reading the Straits Times, I caught sight of an advertisement—a free talk for The ‘SoulKids Mentor Training Program.’ I had read the website so many times since then that I practically knew every word that it contained! But then, I hesitated. “Me? A mentor for children?” I thought.” I can barely manage my own two children without going crazy by the end of the day!”
After a lot of thought I made the call and registered myself for the free talk. I still remember the day I entered SoulCentre….so many questions racing through my mind, so much hesitation! I finally met the 2 people whose pictures I had seen for 2 years on the website …Vikas Malkani and Sally Forrest.
Vikas spoke about the program and at the end, I went up to him and asked him all those questions that were in my mind. After having answered all of them, he said “I can see it in your eyes that you really want to do this program.” An inner voice screamed “Just go for it!!!” I paid the deposit immediately. A Zen quote comes to my mind: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
That decision changed my life forever!! After I completed the program, two things happened. Firstly, my perspective towards people in general, particularly children, changed. Secondly, I started looking at my own children through a new lens. My son, of course, finally went on to do the SoulKids Program (Self-Confidence Module) twice because he loved it so much!
I became a SoulKids Mentor 2 years ago and have conducted numerous classes since then.
Every class is a new experience, an opportunity to learn more from the future generation, an opportunity to evolve. My son is now 11 years old and my daughter is 4 years old. A few simple things I have learned from children (including my own) are:
1. LIVING IN THE PRESENT MOMENT: Children have a natural “joie de vivre.” Nothing about the past or future stays with them. The ability to live in the present moment was something I used to struggle with a lot! Either I used to worry about the future or think about the past. The ability to live in the present moment also makes forgiveness much easier! Children can forgive so easily!
2. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE: Children love unconditionally. Not only my own children but children who do not know me or any of the other mentors at the beginning of the SoulKids program shower us with hugs and love in just 2 days! It’s something that overwhelms me each time!
3. CREATIVE THINKING: I am amazed how natural the concept of creativity is to children, especially younger ones. They see the world as a magical place. Over time, this magic disappears as they discover rules and well defined patterns. Today I am much more aware that it is this magic which will eventually help them create a world quite different from the one we have today.
4. PATIENCE: Though patience may not be a virtue among children in general, this is something I developed over time and I continue to work on each day of my life. I learned that the need to be patient and calm is so critical when working with children, whether professionally or personally.
5. LISTENING: By far, the toughest lesson I learned since completing the program. Listening to words and beyond words. Another critical skill that I work on every day. It does take a lot of practice! Children have this natural ability and that’s why they can sense our anxieties and our happiness even if we don’t say a word!
6. ADOPTING A NON-JUDGEMENTAL ATTITUDE: Before the program, I often fell into the trap of judging others based on a few meetings or an odd incident. Maybe this was because I had my own conditioning and preferences blinding me to see the beauty in difference. I am exactly the opposite today. I have learned to look beyond the incident and have learned to stop judging others; be they children, adults or circumstances.
We can learn from anything around us if we have the ability to keep an open mind and be willing to accept that learning.
As for me, my learning journey continues…...
Nandini Nagpal, Certified SoulKids Mentor, Singapore
(You can learn more about the SoulKids program here.)
Nandini Nagpal has been educating children for years. She has taught French, run a successful childrens' book distributorship and more recently, has been experimenting with the art of story-telling. A mother of two wonderful children, Nandini is a Certified SoulKids Mentor and has been conducting the SoulKids program for children between the ages of 6-16 years.