8 Lessons from Gandhi for our Children

Nobody can grow up in India without hearing the name Mahatma Gandhi.  Everyone extols his virtues in many conversations. However have our kids heard anything beyond his name? Like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela,  is he just another famous name? What are the values that Gandhi espoused and lived, that we can teach our children?

“You become what you think”

Our thoughts strongly influence our words and our actions. It influences outcomes. It influences our future. Therefore it is important to think right. We may think that we did not speak the words out loud, but our thoughts can trigger a set of possibilities in the universe and therefore have to be set right. If our children spiral into negativity and self doubts, they need to be taught to constantly talk themselves up and pep themselves up with positive thoughts.

“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”

Your child may complain about his friends. Remind him that nobody is perfect and if he is constantly finding fault with his friends, he will not have anyone to play with. Remind him that he also has flaws which other people may find annoying, and it is a choice he can make to focus on the good in people.

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”

Children naturally tend to assume that the stronger you are, the more powerful you are. The bigger you are, the more powerful you are. But true leaders are only those who can get along with people, have a great relationship with them and carry them along in their vision. No matter how qualified or competent you are, if you do not have good people skills, your chances of success and happiness are largely diminished.

“Be the change that you wish to see”

Adults and children tend to complain about situations which seem to be beyond their control. However Gandhi’s advice was to start doing what you want others to do if you want to see any results at all. Just moaning and groaning about it and doing nothing about it will not get you anywhere. Teach your children that if they want to change something, it begins with them.

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

Children could get hurt in school. Girls get hurt emotionally by classmates who speak badly about them or spread stories maliciously. Boys may get hurt by rude bullies. Remind your children that unless they ‘allow’ others to do these things to them, nobody can get to them. They need to stand up for themselves and refuse to accept this type of treatment.

“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.”

“I studied so hard and I did not get good marks” your child may moan. They may sometimes feel that their efforts did not yield the expected results and it discourages them to even try.  These golden words by Mahatma echo the teachings of the Bhagavat Gita. Nobody knows what kind of outcomes will happen from our efforts -however we truly fail only when we give up on even trying.

Strength does not come from Winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is your strength”

Many a times we believe that winning is a sign of strength. However, it is failure and the struggle to reach your goal that builds strength and brings out the best in you. They push you to not be complacent and strive to be the best you can and give it your all. So if your child is upset about their failure, remind them that this is their opportunity to get better and improve themselves even more.

“The Simplest acts of kindness are far more powerful than a 1000 heads bent in prayer”

We teach our children to pray. But do we teach them to be kind? Do we teach them to be aware of the lesser privileged and lend a helping hand? Do we teach them the immeasurable value of kind words, attitude and actions?

This long weekend as we celebrate Gandhi Jayanthi, it will also be a great time to catch up on the movie “Gandhi” with your kids 🙂 if they have not seen it yet. Atleast once a year let us remind ourselves of the values that he stood for, the life that he led and the gratitude that we owe him for our freedom.

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