Respond, Don’t React

Dear Readers,

We live in times which call for us to adopt the path that leads us to respond, not react. A response is an emotionally intelligent and responsible reaction to a situation, as opposed to instantly retorting in an unfiltered and often, insensitive manner.

Responding is the acquired ability to master ‘holding back’, for those crucial five seconds between stimulus and reaction. It’s the distinguishing factor between the wise and the not-so-wise. Everybody reacts. But, not everybody responds.

Innumerable instances need us to examine our reactions on a daily basis… like controlling the urge to forward unverified (especially scandalous/sensational) messages on WhatsApp or social media platforms; or uttering unkind, hurtful words in a fit of rage (words you never meant, but now can’t take back); or worse, resorting to lies for fear of consequences, should your truth be exposed.

However, where we currently most need to monitor our reactions, in keeping with the ongoing season of exam results, is how we react to our children’s score-cards. A ‘disappointing grade’ becomes traumatising for both – students and parents. These days anything under 90% overall, qualifies as a disappointing scorecard – though the numbers leave most adults transfixed, with students delivering cent per cent results, in even theory-based subjects!

But, coming back, a lesser grade is neither the measure of your child’s worth nor the measure of your parenting skills. It simply serves as an area that needs greater attention. Your harsh reactions could worsen things by hurting the child’s self-esteem and motivation, thus setting back any potential future progress.

To really make a difference, you need to first be a good listener so you can ‘discuss’ the issue with your child, instead of shooting them down with the typical barrage of criticism, complaints and comparisons, which simply makes the child zone out after the first twenty seconds. Instead, praise the positives of your child – beyond the report card, get the help your child needs, and most importantly, remind yourself and your child that no one is perfect, and that lesser marks don’t lessen your sense of pride in your child. And then see the magic unleash!

But for this and more… you’d need to practice the wise art of ‘Responding’, instead of ‘Reacting’, which is known to have culled out success from failure itself.

Have a good weekend!

– Anahita

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