Nalini Joseph: Focus, word usage critical on child’s path to greatness

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 27, 2020

By Nalini Joseph

This is for the parents who want to put their children on a path towards greatness —  “greatness” as is “Mahatma,” the great soul. The path is difficult, but it can be reached with the help of parents who believe they can change their own lifestyle and be a role model exceptionalism in all aspects of their being. 

All the great change makers that we have known throughout history — national and world leaders, inventors and global entrepreneurs — have a common character trait. They are all extremely focused and driven individuals. They all make time to read, study and spend countless hours thinking, planning and dreaming about their work. Moreover, this intent focus on their area of study and interest gives them an air of confidence that sets them apart from the average individual.  So, how do we, as parents, ignite and nurture this type of focus and deliberation of action in our children at an early age?  

We live in a society that tells us that more is better. More choices of restaurants, churches, weekend getaway spots, sporting events, furniture and grocery stores. You name it. However, we intrinsically know that we have to de-clutter our mental and physical landscape in order to focus. We have to limit our choices and we have to minimize our social interactions. The allure of a weekend retreat is just that: we cut ourselves off from most of the world, spending valuable time repairing our bodies and brains that are tired from constant stimulation.  

For creative minds and for children who are inclined towards ingenuity and careers in research and development rather than in process and production, it is important that they not have an affinity for multi-tasking. Rather, these children have to be around parents who know how to stop, breathe, listen, think and ask focused questions. Let’s put it this way: a fast food worker has to be able to multi-task in order to accomplish her job. They must take orders, ring up customers and prepare food – all within a matter of seconds. A scientist, however, has to be able to look under a microscope at the same specimen for hours — pondering and answering questions while affirming or negating those answers in the process. Einstein — a creative genius — made a contract with his wife for a few hours of undisturbed time each day to simply stare out the window, dreaming and imagining.    

Think about how you, as a parent, handle competing priorities, hectic schedules and the everyday frustrations that come along with being responsive to your child’s personality and needs. Do you multi-task a lot and pay little attention to those around you with your undivided mental and physical energy? Does your child hear you using words like overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, frustrated and chaotic too often? You will know the answer to this question if you hear your children mimic these same words in their everyday language. 

Re-think and reframe your words around your children. Use words that encourage your children to be thinkers and problem solvers. Say to your child, “Give me three possible solutions to my problem” or “Think about an angle to this situation that I haven’t thought about.” Make it your problem or situation; not your child’s.                   

Secondly, incorporate what I call “a mindful minute” into your day. 

Call it what you want — a zone out minute or a chill out minute. Put the timer on for 60 seconds if that makes it easier. Turn the TV off and turn the lights down – just for a minute. Spend that minute with your children saying and doing nothing other than sitting down, closing your eyes and breathing. Instruct each person to focus only on the breath going in and out of their lungs. 

You can do this at the beginning of the day, during the busiest part of your day or as often as you want. You’re not asking your child to go into a yoga lotus position. You are teaching your child to make room in their brain for a solitary activity. Your child has stopped “doing” and has started focusing on “being.”  

You are now one step closer on your child’s path to greatness.  

Nalini Joseph is a resident of Salisbury. She is the proud mother of 10-year honor-roll student, Rohan Joseph, who also serves his community as president of COVID Busters.