Letting childhood flower | Sunday Observer

Letting childhood flower

Innocence is portrayed through children and elders, so we should treat them with lots of love and affection. Looking at the world through a child’s eye is very beautiful as there is a lot of simplicity and beauty. In Sri Lanka, International Elders’ Day and Children’s Day are both celebrated tomorrow (October 1). Elders are the carriers of knowledge and experience. Elders are first and foremost teachers and role models. They are vital in the teaching process from infancy to adulthood.

Senior Lecturer, General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University and Clinical Psychologist, Tina Solomons speaking to the Sunday Observer said: “As elders in Sri Lanka, unlike in many western countries we have forgotten to teach our children to enjoy life. The average middle class child is usually taught that education is important.

When it comes to education, exams alone are seen as achievements. In this light other skills necessary for enjoying life, such as aesthetic skills, reading outside academic purposes, sports, relaxation skills and spiritual practices are put aside. Also, if an activity brings joy alone it is devalued as a non achievement.

“This has led to stress out children, adolescents and adults. Especially, in late life, when the main tasks of career and child raising are over, many adults sink into depression.

Mostly what I see in my clinical practice is, this is due to not having the skills to enjoy life, without chasing any significant goal in life. Therefore, adults have a responsibility towards themselves and their children to learn and teach skills for enjoyment, to build a mentally and physically healthy nation,” she said.

Children are our treasure. They make this world beautiful. Children are so valuable. They are said to be like wet cement, whatever falls on them makes an impression. They are the future of a country and it is only by taking care of them and guiding them on the correct path that discipline can be instilled in a nation.

The United Nations General Assembly, on December 14, 1990, voted to establish October 1 as the International Day of Elders, beginning from October 1, 1991. Elders’ Day is celebrated by raising awareness about issues affecting the elderly, such as senility and elder abuse.

It is also a day to appreciate the contributions that older people make to society. The United Nations’ (UN) Universal Children’s Day was established in 1954.

Universal Children’s Day is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness and awareness among children worldwide. UNICEF, (United Nations Children’s Fund), promotes and coordinates this special day, which also works towards improving children’s welfare.

Children’s Day is an event celebrated on various days, around the world. International Children’s Day is celebrated on June 1 and Universal Children’s Day is on November 20. The International Children’s Day had its origin in Turkey in 1920 and later in the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland in 1925.

On December 14, 1954, the UN General Assembly recommended that all countries should introduce an annual event from 1956 known as Universal Children’s Day on an “appropriate” date to encourage fraternity and understanding between children all over the world, promoting the welfare of children.

On November 20, 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and on November 20, 1989, it adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 1990, Universal Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children’s rights.

Universal Children’s Day is part of the work carried out by UNICEF.

Christarine George who has a background of Psychology and Special Needs Education explained that children are an important part of the country. “Usually we see adults giving less importance to children whether it is in decision making, or any other involvement.

Adults fail to realise that these children are the future and need to be given importance. Childhood is an important period in life when a great part of their adulthood is determined. Childhood experiences play a significant role in adult life.

Therefore it is important that children grow up in the right environment in order to become healthy individuals,” she said. “Many parents do not realize the importance of childhood and their children end up in day care centres at a very early age. They are not given enough love and care in the family. This can have negative effects on children. Some parents bring up their children with too much exposure to technology. They do not realize that this may affect their learning and other functions of the body. Keeping these in mind, and with all the fancy programs being organised around the country, I think it is important to look back and see if children are provided with the right environment such as, love and care from family, opportunities to explore their talents and capabilities, friends to interact, a positive atmosphere where they are encouraged and motivated,” George said.

 

She says, in addition to the presents, parties, programs, trips, and whatever else parents or teachers wish to give children, if they can also give a thought on these lines, children would benefit much more. “Most people have noticed that the current generation, unlike in the good old days, seem to be spoiled and unruly. If parents would give a bit more importance to children we can definitely see a positive change in our younger generations,” she said.

George says, it is sad to say that children with special needs do not seem to be given any importance today. “Most are seen as a burden to the family and the value of their lives not recognised.

“They too have rights as any other child. They want to feel accepted as they are. So children’s day is also a time where we can think of all the children and to see if they actually have access to their rights. Ideally we should not wait for a particular day, but at least if this day will help, let’s take into consideration the importance of childhood, it would be great,” she said.

Many schools and other educational institutions make a special effort to inform children of their rights according to the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Teachers stimulate their pupils to think about the differences between themselves and others and explain the idea of “rights”. In countries where the rights of children are generally well-respected, teachers may draw attention to situations in countries where this is not the case.

In some areas UNICEF holds events to draw particular attention to children’s rights. These may be to stimulate interest in the media around the world or to start nationwide campaigns, for instance on the importance of immunisations or breastfeeding.

Abuse takes place at home, in school, in institutions, at work, in the community, in armed conflict and natural disasters. Much violence against children, such as corporal punishment and sexual abuse, remains legal and socially approved in many countries.

The violence children face takes many forms, such as exploitation and abuse, trafficking, physical and humiliating punishment, harmful traditional practices and recruitment into armed forces and groups.

Growing up with violence and abuse seriously affects a child’s development, dignity, and physical and psychological integrity. It is the responsibility of every single person to safeguard children while taking care of the elders in society.

 

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