Thursday 13 September 2018

Subtle Ways in Which Kids Learn the Prejudices

Prejudice is a pre-conceived notion or an idea that is passed on to generations. And, the idea itself may or may not have a validity.

Yet we love to follow it and want to be a part of the society that made up those prejudices.

But how do we all learn them? Is there a book we read in the early part of our life? Does someone sit and narrate them all to us?


Answer is...

While, speaking to kids several times everyone teaches them prejudices. And, in subtle ways kids pick them up and store it in deep memory.

I have noticed a few instances that teach kids prejudices. Such as,
  • Gender Differentiation - A boy gets hit by a ball in park and comes running home for comfort and reassurance that all will be okay. But an uncle tells him, "stop crying like a girl!". What did you understand by this statement? Not only the uncle said not to cry over a small injury but he also taught that its okay for girls to cry and since you are a boy it doesn't suit you.
  • Superiority - The very next thing we ask our kids after knowing their exam marks/grades is what did others get. Why? To show and teach the concept of comparison and superiority.
  • How to Detect Enemy - A toddler trying to take a few unconfident steps with wobbly legs falls down in matter of seconds. A guardian comes running to pick up and boldly slaps the floor, chair, table or whatever the toddler touched in the moment of falling. In return, the budding brain of the toddler registered that one who hurts me physically or emotionally is my enemy and I must raise my hand violently.
  • Be the Best or You are Nothing - In a music class an enthusiastic child (X) sings but has no idea that the notes and tune is not correct. The teacher begins to appreciate the one (Y) who is singing absolutely perfect. After a few classes, the enthusiastic but underappreciated X begins to feel rejected and opts to stop going for music lessons.
  • How to be Superior - While taking decisions regarding our kid's hobby classes, schools and other activities we always take notes of what the intelligent kid in the colony or school does. We encourage our kids to mimic the styles, habits and behaviour of his superior. 
There are many more ways that are subtle yet effective enough to teach kids the do's and don'ts of society, lifestyle and success. And, I have only touched upon a few.

One may argue that what is wrong with teaching kids at an early age not to cry or get good marks like a topper or beat your enemy or behave like a successful person.

My problem is with the hidden messages and negative effects of those teachings on kid's mind and psychology.

In case 1, the uncle could have just said "stop crying" but choosing to say the word "girl" just changed everything. Why is it okay for a girl to cry? Why can't men share their deep emotional feelings?

In 2nd case, you should have taught your kid to rectify their mistakes and see the faults in their notebook. Revise and read more. But instead you taught that no matter how much you get, if someone scored more, you will always be an inferior. What happens in the process is that suddenly the happiness the kid was initially feeling from the hard work gets subsided and they begin to harbour feelings like jealously and envy.

I am particularly disturbed by case 3. If a toddler fell, why blame it on the floor, chair and table? Brush off the legs and arms and teach that its okay to fall and be cautious while doing anything. What kind of triumph feeling are you trying to give a small kid by beating a living or non-living thing in front of them? We are not raising kings and queens. Our kids have to do hard work and they will meet hardships. And in the process if they meet roadblocks or failures, should they blame everything on others or first find faults in themselves? Should they feel they are best and can't go wrong or introspect on why their friendship/relationship went sour, why they couldn't pass exam or didn't get that job position?

Let's be cautious of what we say and rephrase it for children. What we say and what we mean are completely different things but children can't filter that. 


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