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Conceptualizing Conscience (in children/students) in Real and Digital Age

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Recently, Madurai High Court Bench expressed alarm at the growing nonchalance among the population, especially among the children. With growing news of children abusing and  getting abused and several other moral issues, the court emphasized the need for moral education, both at school and home. This moral education spun at home is intricately linked with a conscience. So, what is conscience? It is the blend of morality, self-awareness, and self-analytical ability that separates rationality from blind belief or rage, writes Kuhoo Gupta, The Founder of  'The K Junction'

Moral Empathy vs. Digital
Children from the age of 0 to 7, are highly malleable and their sub-conscious is heavily influenced by life experiences which are majorly dependent on their parents. However, being a role model in today’s age is double the challenge, thanks to the exposure of the digital platforms which makes children susceptible to certain conundrums. Children today are exposed to digital media before they are even born, with their parents using digital media during the gestation period.

However, that is just the start of the digital infiltration which affects the way a child thinks and reacts. Thanks to the constant viewing of the screen, the ability to feel and respond in real time takes a beating as the brain is aware that it is the virtual world. This virtual connection cuts the link between real-life empathy, blinding the sight of what is right and  wrong in children which severely downsizes on their conscience and morality. Though digital is not all bad and does create a medium of engaged learning, it is always a big no-no for children under 2 and should be allowed in moderation for other children.
 
How Can Teachers and  Parents Help Germinate Conscience
Parents and teachers are role models. There is no denying that a child learns first in his home and then steps on to school. Therefore, it is imperative that the adults realize their behaviour around the child. For that, they need to clear their path of conscience, get rid of the negativity and hindrances that often comes in the way of their regular lives and impact the communication with children. Granted that adulthood comes with its own set of challenges, but efforts should be made in keeping the ominous atmosphere at bay when around a child.

Parents must form a strong bond with their children and communication is the key element that effectively reinforces this connection. A child should be able to talk to his/her parents who will help them understand the nature of their actions. For instance, if they are taught that cyberbullying is wrong or hurting someone physically or emotionally is not the act of a virtuous person, they will think twice about taking that action. The conscience will be at work here, telling them this is wrong. The spiritual path is a constant guiding light in a child’s heart but paving the right direction towards that light is the job that parents have to fulfil for the betterment of their children.

The early rectification is especially important because as they grow into teenagers, children learn from their own decisions, from their own mistakes. It is important to give them controlled freedom to make choices, fail and learn. Since parents are still around children to help and support in case of wrong decisions, children have a safety net and they learn for the future when parents might not be around. Any experience by the child becomes a part of him. Almost in all cases, these habits, belief systems, traits continue for the entire life. So this is a very apt time to inculcate good values in the child. But the first step to do that is to raise your own awareness as a parent, heal your emotional wounds and become more conscious.
 
The Right Path to Growth
Since the current age of easy availability and instant gratification can have a profound effect on how children imbibe situations, they can be robbed of their thinking and cognitive ability, a parent can tune in with the child and love him unconditionally and accept him wholeheartedly, sans any judgment.  After all, a child with great self-esteem and self-love quotient and who has a connect with the divine through some or the other spiritual practice is not vulnerable to bad decisions.

Initial steps are to give unconditional love and  acceptance of who they are right from the pregnancy stage. This will give them a strong foundation of great self-esteem and  self-love. Keeping the parent-child relationship as a bidirectional one instead of hierarchical is also very important to remain connected with the child so that in grown-up stage, it is easy to step into a situation if we need to maintain the conscience in the child. Above all this, the most important thing is to grow, evolve and  heal personally as an individual for the parent to set the right role model for the child in a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and  psychological sense.

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