We must encourage children to aspire and dream big. It is only when we let make our children realize that dreams have no limit and hear success stories like Hima Das and Swampna Burma, will they think of reaching the stars.
Thanks to social media, we have increasingly begun to learn and applaud success stories. Not too long ago, we came across the great story of grit, determination, dream and aspiration of Swapna Burman. Enduring pain due to an extra finger each on her two feet, she came out with flying colours at the 2018 Asian Games. She became the first Indian woman to win gold in the Heptathlon event. This is an incredible story and so goes the tale of Assam’s sensation Hima Das. But how could they make it so big? To answer it in a simple word — they dared to dream! Their success tells us about the power of dreaming and setting a goal.
These, and many other similar stories have lessons for present-day parents and children. Parents must inculcate in their children a desire to aspire and dream. This reminds us of what Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the US, had said: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Or a famous quote from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” While adults have books to refer, children have little or limited influences, including their school, peers and parents, to motivate them so as to set higher aspirational goals. They may, however, take some lessons out of the psychology theories in this endeavour.
Gordon Allport was a celebrated psychologist and he famously counted about 18,000 trait-like terms in English language — terms that designated “distinctive and personal forms of behaviour.” He spoke of three levels of traits. The first was cardinal — those that are so dominant that all of the individual’s action can be traced back to these. These broad, highly influential traits are often called by names, drawn from key historical figures. So, one might be described Christlike, another as Machiavellian and so on. Then he spoke of central traits which would typically characterise an individual’s behaviour to some extent. Finally, the least generalised characteristics of the person he labelled as secondary traits. These are traits such as “likes chocolates” or “prefers foreign cars” — ones that are influential but only within a narrow range of situations. May be modern parents and teachers, other than their overzealous approach to studies and extra curricular activities, should be focussing on identifying some of these and honing those central or secondary in-born traits that could lead children to higher aspiration.
They must also spare thoughts on Sigmund Freud’s construct of model of personality with three interlocking parts: Id, ego and superego. The id is a storehouse of biologically based urges: The urge to eat, drink, eliminated, especially to be sexually stimulated. Freud said that the id operates according to the pleasure principle. It is bridled and managed by ego, which consists of elaborate ways of behaving and thinking, which constitutes the “executive function” of the person. Freud characterised ego as working “in the service of the reality principle.” It balances the insistent urges of the id and constraints of reality and enables a more sophisticated thinking skills. The superego is the equivalence of conscience and consists primarily of prohibitions learnt from parents, teachers, and other agencies. The superego or conscience-like persuasions are also dictated by what Freud calls “the ego ideal”, a set of positive value and moral ideals which are encouraged to be followed, for they are believed to be worthy. Parents can surely help shape ego and superego of their children which can instill traits like, aspirations and dreaming to achieve big.
At a recent conference on education in Vijaywada Commissioner of School Education of Andhra Pradesh, K Sandhya Rani, reminded the children of a 10,000-hour rule, and urged them to aspire to be the best by inculcating the habit of practicing. This writer is particularly fond of Malcom Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success, where this rule is mentioned, and often recommend it to youngsters. “Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness,” Gladwell wrote, adding that it takes about 10 years to put in ten thousand hours of hard practice. “Even Mozart, the greatest musical prodigy of all time, couldn’t hit his stride until he had his ten thousand hours in. Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
Drawing from fascinating empirical evidences, Gladwell said that it is important for parents to know this and put their children into special programs. “It’s all but impossible to reach that number by yourself by the time you’re a young adult. You have to have parents who encourage and support you.” India is a highly aspirational society and is undergoing a rare churning. Just about time we encouraged our children to dream, and aspire for more. It is only when they begin to dream big that we can hear more stories like those of Burman and Das. The tasks for modern parents are clearly cut out.
(The writer is a strategic communications professional)
Writer: Navneet Anand
Courtesy: The Pioneer