Language is not a barrier for kids


Language bridges people from across the world. It helps us to communicate with each other.  We can share ideas, solve problems and help each other succeed because of language.  But sometimes we believe language becomes a barrier between people and even communities and states.  Why does this happen ?  There is no logic to explain this nor reasons to justify it.

Let us look at children.  Have you ever seen children not mingling with each other because they cannot speak a common language.  I have never seen that.  On the contrary, I have even recently experienced my grandson and my nephew’s son play with each although they do not speak any language in common.  Children have a way to communicate with each other without any language.  Language is never a barrier for kids to share and enjoy together.  Why should it be for the elders ?

We have an opportunity to learn from children.  As elders, we make language a barrier between us. We feel it breaks down communication and will easily blame communication as a barrier.  How do children overcome this barrier ?  How do they communicate even without knowing the language of each other ?  I am reminded of a story, which happened in India a few decades back.  A french anthropoligist was visiting India to study in some part of rural India.  He neither knew english nor Hindi.  He was also not familiar with the local regional languages of that part of India.  When asked how he would do his research without knowing the local language, he responded that he would visit the villages and behave like children and then the villagers would respond.  This will help him study their behaviour.

Thus we need to realise that language can be an enabler for better communication.  It should not be a barrier to deal with each other.  It is also interesting to note that more than 70% of our communication is done non verbally.  Hence, how can we blame language as a barrier, which in any case only accounts to that balance 30% of communication between human beings.

It is fascinating to see children talk to each other without knowing each others’ language.  They are not only able to communicate with each other but even able to coordinate with each other seamlessly.  If you see them play a game together, you will see this in action.  What prevents the elders to not do the same? As we grow older in life, our ego becomes the barrrier between human beings and not the language.

We tend in live in own world and refuse to adapt ourselves to others as the situation demands.  Children are adaptive by nature.  They are always willing to give more than they take from others.  They listen more attentively.  This makes them communicate with each other bettter without blaming language or other factors as barriers.

It is time to reflect, un learn and re-learn this adaptive nature from kids.  Their ability to adapt is admirable.

It is time for change.  What do you say ?

S Ramesh Shankar

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Patience with kids


Child is the father of man is an old saying.  Most of us as kids always complain that our parents do not listen to us.  They do not have the time to answer all our inquisitive questions.  They are busy in their own world and tend to lose their cool when we pester them with our queries.  As a child, we feel each of our questions are closest to our hearts and we feel hurt when they are not answered.

On the other hand, as we grow old and have our own kids, our world view changes.  When our first child is born, we thank God for the blessings showered on us.  Our child is the most beautiful in the world and we commit to take care of them to the best of our ability.  As the child grows up and speaks the first word, we are elated.  We encourage them to speak and we are all ears to every conversation of theirs.

Now the kid grows up and has all the questions under the sun.  As they grow up, they keep testing our patience with endless questions challenging us every day of our life.   We end up asking God why did he bless us with a kid, who cannot stop asking us all day and night.  We forget that our life would have been silenced without a kid in our lives.

Now our kid grows into an adolescent.  The rebellious behaviour tests our patience to the limits.  We are told by elders, family members, friends and colleagues that we do not know how to parent our adolescent kids.  We need to lead them by example and restrain ourselves.  It may be easier said than done.  It is one thing to advise others and totally another to practise it as a parent.  All those who have gone through this know the definition of patience in real life.

Now our child grows into an adult and leaves home.  We grow older and our own kids do not have time for us.  Life comes a full circle.  We feel distressed that our kids do not talk or listen to us.  We eagerly wait for our kids to call us or visit us once in a way.  This is the way life progresses and we need to learn to live it that way.  All of us go through life and the earlier we realize the changing roles and needs in different phases of life, the better for us.

Now when our kids lose their patience at our persistent questions, we wonder why are they so impatient.  Why do they not respect us ?  Why cannot they find time for us.  Why are they not grateful to us for all that we have done for them.  So, again, life turns upside down.  We find ourselves in the same place as our kids were when they were young.  They had all the questions in the world and we neither had the time nor the patience to answer them.

It is this realisation that life is a full circle and each of us go through the same tests of our patience at different phases of life is a reality.  We need to learn to enjoy the curiosity (impatience) of kids, the adrenalin ( rebellion) of the adolescents, the maturity (silence) of the adults and the wisdom (intrusiveness) of the elders. 

Let us start today.

S Ramesh Shankar