Honesty and Respect - Maithreyi Venkataraman

means being truthful and developing a practice of always speaking the truth. An honest person shows good behaviour and maintains discipline. Honesty is one of the most critical values inculcated in a child. As unfortunate as it may seem, the fact that we cannot turn a blind eye is that dishonesty is seen in abundance in today's world. It has infested the world to such an extent that the adults do not even realize that they are doing an immoral act. Hence, there is an urgent need to teach this vital virtue.

As a mentor, I have encountered many instances wherein the students have been dishonest. In my formative years as a mentor, while I was gaining maturity as a teacher, I was very strict with my students about being dishonest, but it was not that effective. With experience, I learned the right way to handle the situation: to understand the reason behind the act and not the reason for the action.

The most common situation when a student is dishonest is when they have not done their homework or any other such assignment assigned to them with a specific timeline. The way by which a child covers his act is by making excuses which are not valid. And, invariably, the only reaction they get from their teachers is a strict scolding or any other such form or reprimand method for being dishonest. As teachers do so with the best intention of the student in mind, of correcting them and teaching them the right thing to do, we mentors must always observe if a behaviour change has occurred in these students.

It has been observed that behind every action of a child, an adult indeed has a role to play - young minds learn a lot through imitation; they are constantly monitoring and imitating the adults who they look up to, it could be a parent, a family member or a mentor.

It is essential to teach a child that when a person is honest, it enhances their confidence and makes them brave. Everyone is fond of such a person, and an honest person generates trust in the hearts and minds of others. It is essential for both mentors and parents always remember that if a child is being dishonest, it is not always the fault of the child- it is also because we adults have not created the trust in those young minds that we can handle the truth. We have created a fear in the children's minds, and the fear of our reaction discourages them from telling the truth.

The most effective way I have learnt to inspire children to be honest, is by telling them how they enhance their individual personalities by being honest and making them realize that by telling a lie, they are not fooling the person but are breaking trust. We mentors should also tell the students that a lie can provide temporary relief, but it actually only puts them into more trouble. As one lie can easily lead to a hundred more lies. Hence, one must be truthful from the beginning, and it will result in them having very good lifelong friends and make their lives very happy.

Respect is a feeling one holds as regard for the other. Respect is not just restricted to actions and not bounded by age or gender. It is a fundamental right of every living being, and it is essential that students need to learn and understand the need and manner to show respect to all.

Respect can be broadly classified into two aspects they are – a) self–respect and b) respect we give to other living beings.

Self–respect reflects respect for oneself and behaving with honour and dignity at the same time. A child must have self-respect as only then will they understand and realize the need to give respect to others. Respect should be taught to a child so that it should be perceived as a fundamental human quality that is the basic identity of a human being.

As mentors, we need to teach the children that respect is expressed in many ways and is not restricted by age. The child must understand that every action they exhibit in the company of their friends, family, teachers or any stranger reflects the respect they show towards that particular person. Even simple steps like –listening to a person when they speak and maintaining eye contact with those when they talk to you. ... show respect.

As mentors, we have the added responsibility to make our students understand that it is essential that they show respect to their peers and their elders and that they will be treated with respect. An effective way to teach this in class will be by allowing children to do a self-analysis. Give them situations they may have faced in school or at home and encourage them to express how they felt when they were not given any heed or when they were treated rudely. Did they feel bad or left out? Moreover, ask them to compare the same to situations when they felt happy and vital.

The students should further be asked to express the feeling they desired more, the happy feeling or the time they felt left out.

These questions and activities will initiate the child to think, realize, and empathize with people who are not being treated with respect. And it will, in turn, also discourage them from being disrespectful to others and make them realize that – "If they want to be treated with the respect, they need to first give respect and that respect should consistently be earned, never forced.

As mentors and adults, we shoulder a huge responsibility toward our students and children. To inculcate both the above-discussed virtues, we have to realize we can never be hypocrites and always be role models as every action of ours is observed, noticed, learned and imitated by our children.

Maithreyi Venkataraman
Gyanshree School
JOL Cohort 2022

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