Can Yoga Help Children From Becoming Haters?
Nobody wants to be labeled a hater. However, many of us aren’t aware that we regularly engage in hateration and even worse, are passing down the hater baton to our kids because, honestly, we all suffer from hating at times.
Think not? Let me put it this way. Have you ever been mad that someone else got promoted at work? Do you spend time browsing through gossip columns? Ever been jealous? Ever been pleased with someone else's failures or downfalls? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are...you might just be sipping on the haterade.
I think we all can agree that hating has gone viral, and I mean viral like a pandemic. If we want to put an end to this virus, we need to start at home, with ourselves and our children.
Recent studies show that schadenfreude starts in children as young as two years old. Schadenfreude is a joyful feeling expressed in the face due to someone else's misfortune (typically rooted in jealousy and competitiveness). The assumption is that schadenfreude is an evolutionary mechanism that is developed from experiencing situations of inequality.
The study’s conductor, Prof. Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory, from the University of Haifa's Psychology Department, said, "Because social-comparison reactions are linked to character traits like self-esteem and altruism, it's possible that people who think less of themselves are more likely to suffer from feelings of schadenfreude."
Though some mild forms of hatin’ can be laughed off, others can turn into serious emotional problems in children. Bullying, for example, is devastating to both victim and perpetrator and can lead to low self esteem, heightened feelings of anger, shame, and guilt, as well as social ostracism.
Contrary to popular belief, most haters don’t actually know they are hating – until someone brings it to their attention. Having a "no troll" policy at home and bringing some awareness to hating is important so that we can all come together and love one another as extended family.
If you want to raise your child to be a lover not a hater, try this:
"Namaste" is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates to “I bow to the light in you which is also in me.” If children can be made to see that although each of us is unique, we are all manifestations of the same divine source of light, then they’ll perhaps tend to feelings of inclusiveness and compassion for "the other." Though it may sound like a cliché, the simple truth, however you choose to say it to your kids, is that we are, in fact, "all one," "all connected," and "all in this together."
Teach compassion and empathy.
The most effective way to teach these two virtues to your child is to demonstrate them by your own behavior. Kindness and gentleness are most effectively passed on through example. Volunteering and donating are also great ways to encourage your child’s heart to "grow bigger." Teach your child the golden rule and to wish the best for everyone.
Celebrate others’ accomplishments.
Make it a point to verbally celebrate others’ accomplishments. Be giving and expressive with praise when it comes to your child and others. Haters typically show anger or disdain at others’ successes – thus trying to pull them down with unkind words, gossip and insults. A win for another is a win for us all because we have the power to do anything, and they just may be giving us the blueprint.
Finding inspiration in others’ achievements is actually one secret of successful people.
Especially when it comes to your children, their siblings and other kids, try not to compare. Explain how we all have our unique strengths and talents, which can never be compared to another. Teach them to do the best they can, nothing more, nothing less and no one (including you) can ever ask for more.
Experiencing other cultures is the best possible antidote to ignorance and the evils of stereotypes in understanding others. The many benefits of enlightened travel include curiosity, worldliness, empathy, and a sense of commonality rather than fear of the "other."
Point to abundance rather than scarcity.
There’s never a lack of love, joy, happiness or prosperity in the world. "Hating" can often spawn out of fear -- dear of lack, insecurities and not feeling worthy or good enough. There’s more than enough to go around, so stop the hoarding (of anger and sadness, if physical resources are not at your immediate reach). Giving and receiving with love are one and the same (and it does feel even better to give).
Explain what a hater is.
Haters rarely succeed because they’re too busy worrying about what other people are doing rather than directing time and energy into themselves. Guide your kids to direct their effort and energy toward their own growth and success. Yet, teach them to always see the the good in others and to speak positively of all.
Encourage your child to help someone else succeed. Finding how you can affect change in others in a positive way is said to direct you to your purpose in life.
Teach them Yoga & Meditation.
Yoga and meditation are a path to oneness. Once you are comfortable in your own body and mind and in the stillness within, you begin to realize everything is connected. Which in turn, naturally sways children (and all people) away from envy, jealousy, hate and fear.
Promote self love.
When you truly love yourself, there’s no need to degrade or slander others. Develop your child’s self love by cultivating your own love of self and leading by example. Explore your child’s special talents and support their interests. Recite affirmations with you children such as, “I love myself exactly how I am.”
Encourage self-expression which offers an alternative to suppressed feelings, and allow your child to speak their truth without blame or shame. And above all, show them unconditional love … no matter what.
Bess O'Connor is the founder of Urban Wellness Magazine. She has studied in many healing traditions, is a Certified Ayurvedic and Holistic Health Practitioner and worked as a Healing Arts Master for the Chopra Center for 8 years. A holistic, natural lifestyle is what she's all about. To her, WELLNESS is short for: Water, Exercise, Love, Light, Nourishment, Energy, Sun & Spirit. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.