07 November, 2007

Children and Fear

The freedom of life is to live without fear. Our mind is conditioned from childhood towards fear. When I grew up in India, we feared for everything at school. Some may argue that fear brings discipline in a child. But certainly not!

I remember my school days, when we feared for everything. I read about a nasty incident today. This has happened in Ahmedabad, India. A student came to school late, and the standard punishment was to run 5 times around the school ground. The school kicks off at 7 A.M. and the boy who was late collapsed when he started running. There is a report saying that the boy had congenial heart problem. Still I honestly think that this kind of punishment should not exist. Here in UK, they make the children to undergo detention. If they are late they will be detained half an hour back in the evening or another day. I would not say that it is the best but in no way it harms the child. If such kind of death had happened in a developed country the school authorities will be taken to task. I read the Police is looking for a complaint from the parents, to take action against the school. We should wait and see with what is going to happen. I could only sympathise with the parents for the loss of their lovely child. At the same time, such parents should go against the school authorities, and this should open the eyes of many others who fall in the same group.

The same punishment existed during my school days 30 years before. I hated my PE teacher taking control of latecomers. I would have been late only once or twice in my school life. We were asked to do some physical exertions like holding ears criss-cross by hands and do squats. There was discrimination in those punishments too. But what did they achieve? They made us to be more afraid.

There had been age hold tradition of instilling fear on child’s mind. I remember days when my nieces visited us for holidays and we were in teens. My brother-in-law, who is a Doctor, always insisted that they should not be scared. I got the parenting technique when I was just in my teens and it worked very well. Then, we looked back into our childhood days and realised the importance of bringing a child brave and explaining them the consequence.

Fear causes anxiety in children. Fear deprives them from thinking creatively. The fear of being beaten, punished, makes children to become coward in their life. As a parent of 2 children, I have found it very successful in being positive. Children are bound to do mischief and mistakes. Children need to be children. At the same time, they should know their limits. Punishments should be there. But they should be in such a way; it does not hurt them physically, emotionally and mentally. My nieces were brought up without fear and this has helped them a lot in their life so far.

My aged mother does not agree with my ideas and principles and feels that I am giving too much of liberty to kids. During our childhood we were not allowed to give any explanation and were just asked to follow what was being said. Thanks to creative thinking I could overcome all the fear in myself. At one stage in my life, I have thrown the fear and started realising of being conscious to ourselves.

Children are the best gift to us. They should be handled in a nice and simple manner. Some of the parents compare their children and keep talking about all the negative things of their children to other parents and friends. They should bear in mind the way they behave with their children. It is really funny to hear few parents’ comments. I have seen a lot of parents expecting their child to be a readymade piece with all they wish. They need to realise that children cannot be all-in-one readymade doll. They need to be moulded and it requires lots of patience in bringing up good children.

Fear cannot prevent the negative things. It may be deceptive. It may look like it is producing the best result, but indirectly it harms the personality. It is age old technique. In present world it will not work. Children may pretend to be afraid, but you gain nothing than hatred from them. This may have adverse affect and parents may have to pay a huge penalty for their behaviours.
So those who are dealing with children, please wake up! Teach them right. Tell them the consequences. Please be in detail and try to deal them with patience. It is difficult. They may repeat the same negative behaviour. But teach them gently and do not lose your patience. Keep explaining them straightforward. It will fetch you the result. Please do not spank or terrorise them with punishment and fear. This will not work.


Marutham said...

Gotcha... Lucky me.
Soodana post padika poren :)

Marutham said...

It is sad indeed :)
Many of the grown ups do not understand that fearing children would not give them the freedom to think!
Blindly fearing abt something is worse.
The parents who have lost this child would feel terrible & nothing just nothing can get the child back now.In india these kind of cases are increasing in number now.

I loved the last 3 paragraphs alot... :) And your kids are sure lucky to have such wonderful parents! Am consciously putting the 's' there... i have a feeling!

And before i forget..


Balaji S Rajan said...


Welcome. yes.. you are the first reader. Go on and put your comments.

Balaji S Rajan said...


So sweet of you. I am sure you will be a good parent in the future. If youngsters like you could realise this, I am sure we can see a very good generation in the future. Anyhow, thanks for your comments and wishes. Wish you too a happy Diwali.

Kittu said...

wishing you and your family a very happy deepavali.

Kavi said...

Hello BALAJI !

Deepwali wishes !

i read poem by Tagore long back "where the mind is without fear & the head is held high...into that heaven of freedom my father let my country awake !

children need to grow without fear. And adults need to let children be children. Without fear !

refreshing to read your post !

வேதா said...

நல்லா சொல்லியிருக்கீங்க. அதுவும் இந்த காலத்து பசங்க கிட்ட பயத்தால எதுவும் சாதிக்க முடியாதும் கூட. எதுவா இருந்தாலும் அவங்களுக்கு எடுத்து சொல்லணும்னு தான் எதிர்ப்பார்க்கறாங்க. ஆனா நிறைய பெற்றோருக்கு அது தெரியல, ஒண்ணு அவங்களுக்கு பணிந்து போயிடறாங்க இல்லேன்னா நீங்க சொன்ன மாதிரி பயத்தை உண்டாக்கறாங்க. நீங்க உங்க குழந்தைங்க கிட்ட ஒரு நல்ல தந்தையா இருக்கறது மகிழ்ச்சியை தருது, வாழ்த்துக்கள் :)

வேதா said...

நல்லா சொல்லியிருக்கீங்க. அதுவும் இந்த காலத்து பசங்க கிட்ட பயத்தால எதுவும் சாதிக்க முடியாதும் கூட. எதுவா இருந்தாலும் அவங்களுக்கு எடுத்து சொல்லணும்னு தான் எதிர்ப்பார்க்கறாங்க. ஆனா நிறைய பெற்றோருக்கு அது தெரியல, ஒண்ணு அவங்களுக்கு பணிந்து போயிடறாங்க இல்லேன்னா நீங்க சொன்ன மாதிரி பயத்தை உண்டாக்கறாங்க. நீங்க உங்க குழந்தைங்க கிட்ட ஒரு நல்ல தந்தையா இருக்கறது மகிழ்ச்சியை தருது, வாழ்த்துக்கள் :)

Neha Nair said...

About the first case , I think the information was that the child landed up late at school so eventually he ran because he knew that would be the punishment given to him if he reported.Being brought up in the gulf, there the Govt. has banned in the practice of physical or verbal abuse . So I never had to face or witness such problems. But yes in India the practice is still on.

Marutham said...

:) Pleasure is mine!
Thanks alot....

Balaji S Rajan said...


Thanks and wish you the same too.

Balaji S Rajan said...


After your comment, now I remember the poem by Tagore, where the mind is without fear. True it is a well written poem in those days itself by Tagore. Thanks for reminding.

Thanks for your greetings and wish you the same.

Balaji S Rajan said...


Looks like you sent the comments twice and I published them thinking that they may be different. Thanks for your comments. I still keep learning from my elders and books. My children are reciprocating the same feelings. My son as a teenager is gaining a very good reputation from the society and desi friends by his good behaviour. After all, that is our aim to bring up our kids as useful citizens to this society.

Jeevan said...

Children may pretend to be afraid, but you gain nothing than hatred from them.” Very true. When a child was threatening always, it changes the child’s mind to see their parents as terror that also brings distance between them.

It was nice to see and you were working like not the old type and looking at children fully aware of growing them. I was reading the same news; I thought about those days the students used to round the ground as punishment for being late and kneeling down near office room. In this I feel lucky to get excuse from teachers to avoid getting punish for being late.

Itz me!!! said...

hi Balaji,
I subscribe 100% to the fact that children should be tuned to reasoning and not to fear. Only a rational mind can take matured decisions and fear only leads to impulsive actions...The seeds of upbringing should be backed up by strong logical reasoning and not because we create a morbid fear in their minds just because we have been lucky to have been born a few years ahead of them.
This post is a thought well expressed.

Aani Pidunganum said...

Hi Bala,

Nethiadi solluvangaleh adhuthaan. I agree, i feel at times i loose patience when explaining things to my boy. Its a good post... keep posting.

Rama Iyer said...

Very very true. The school that my children go to does not believe in corporal punishment and so my children cannot believe that there do exist schools where the children are caned or made to run or such forms of punishment meted out.
As you rightly said, we as kids were not allowed to question. But my children, as will be the case with most children this age, started talking, asking "But Why Amma?" And the saga continues to this day. Sometimes I ask them to explain why :)
Fear is definitely an obstruction to growth and expressing oneself.

A thoughtful post indeed

Balaji S Rajan said...


Thanks for your comments. I agree and you are great in understanding many things. Keep it up!

Balaji S Rajan said...


Thanks. Everyone of us lose patience. But we need to understand our kids from their angle too.

Balaji S Rajan said...


Yes. I do understand the days are changing. Children are brilliant due to exposure. My son has been seeing Television from birth. Computer from 5 year. But my daughter seeing everything from child. That is the difference. They have so much of information through the technology, media and stuff. They are entirely different. Age old techniques will not work. But I do not know why our schools are still following conventional methods of teaching.

Aani Pidunganum said...

Innum namma Asokar saalai(selai ellai) ooram maram nataarnu innum appadi thaan pogudhu.
Innum shahjahan mumtaz kaaga(not actress) tajmahal katinaarnu pogudhu. Yaar solli yaar ketkaraanga.

Padipu mudichu vandhu edhu use aagumnu paarthu thevaiyanadha sollitharamadhiri syllabus varanum.

Ennatha panna, syllabus maathina, yen ithai edutha athai eduthanu oru kelvi varudhu.

Jayaram said...

A wonderful post, as always! May the boy's soul rest in peace and the Almighty give his parents all they need to overcome this grief!!
Well, if a child is not performing well in his studies it's not always that he doesn't have interest in studies. It could be for other reasons too. By and large the parenting and teaching community believe that the lack of interest is the reason for poor performace - could very well be a fallacy. To top it, they believe the solution to 'the lack of interest' problem is instilling fear in the wards' minds which again is a wrong solution in itself. We kill our children before they naturally die in the run for giving them a better life - what an irony!

Anonymous said...

fantastic post as usual. romba romba correct - punishment, kovama pesaradhu idhu edhume manasula padhiyaradhe illa kozhandhaigalukku. Innikku kooda kalambara Tharun-a porumai illaama romba kovichu thittittu apram few minutes kazhichu feel panninen. Manasukku puriyudhu, buthikku puriyala. thappa edhavadhu pannina first 'sur'-nu kovam dhan varudhu adhu moolaiya yosikka vidaama mazhunga adichudaradhu..

nice one, keep it up.
- umakrishna

Destination Infinity said...

Definitely fear kills creativity, but there is another side that well have to consider as well. When kids are very young, they may not be able to understand reason, logic and consequences. Now, try convincing a kid about the negative aspects of eating icecreams or chocolotes. They are very young and take some time to understand. At that age, certain amount of fear and disciplining is required, is my opinion. But when the child reaches a certain age and maturity, there is no point in instilling fear. Rather i feel the child should be allowed to decide on the issue by himself after considering all the consequences. Here, parental guidance is required.

Destination Infinity said...

One more comment i wish to leave here: There are more angles to this issue than parental interferences alone. There is a society, peer influence, tutor influence and also living conditions influences. I dont know about there, but here in Chennai as there is a huge boom in IT and a there is lot of money to spend freely for young people. They take to chronic drinking, un-healthy fast food and wear modern exposing garments. Now these young people are mature enough to understand the consequences of say, over alcohol. But still they persue it doggedly. Most of them are from conservative families with a decent education. Call it peer pressure, over expectation from life and money made or just casual attitude, this is happening. Also this might reflect a more deeper concern in the young people (like dissatisfaction in their work or personal life) which leads to these consequences. Probably then they need to be counselled, in India, by parents or seniors. There always seems to be a very thick line dividing discipline and freedom (as expected by young people).