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A child has a mind

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March 29, 2018

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A child has a mind

How is a small child’s intelligence built up? Is he or she born with an empty mind? Or the impressions received from the external objects knock upon and as it were, force open the gates of the senses. They then settle down in the psychic area and by gradually associating with each other become organized and build up the mind.


True is the saying, ‘There is nothing in the intellect which was not first in some way in the senses’. Accordingly a child’s intelligence can be activated by the adults by making his surroundings stimulating. Parents, grandparents and later teachers can play a big role in this. The importance of the child’s environment for the development of his mind can never be under-emphasized. The child also possesses an inner sensibility. A child has a sensitive period, which lasts until he is almost five years old and which enables him to assimilate images from his almost five years of life and which enables him to assimilate images from his environment in a truly prodigious fashion. He is an observer actively receiving these images through his senses, but that does not mean that he receives them as a mirror. Each child has his own inborn inner impulse, a kind of feeling, a special taste.

Parents may ask what are the special interests of small children, which make them behave different from each other? A child starts from nothing and advances alone. It is the child’s reason around which the sensitive period revolves. This process is natural and creative, grows gradually like all living things and gains strength from the images it receives from its surroundings. These images consist of people, situations, light, sound and objects. He is strongly attracted to them and takes a keen delight in them. I wish to point out that this is an inner phenomenon. How he learns is a mystery. His reasoning process is a spontaneous movement, even though it is just beginning. This mental ability deserves respect and assistance from his parents and others around. The child starts with nothing and develops his reason, the specific characteristics of a human being. He starts along this path even before he can walk upon his own small feet.

Adults can hinder this inner toil when they rudely and loudly interrupt a child’s reflection, or try to distract him. They take the tiny hand of the child, or kiss him or try to make him go to sleep, or forcefully make him eat without taking into account his peculiar psychic development. Through their own excitement or ignorance adults can thus suppress a child’s primitive desires.

It is absolutely necessary that a child preserves the image, which he receives in all clearness, since it is only through the clarity of these impressions and the distinctions that he makes among them that he can mould his own intellect.

For adults, specifically parents, a child’s mind is an unfathomable riddle. It is puzzling to them because they judge it by its outwards manifestations rather than by its inner psychic energies. We should try to understand that there is an intelligible reason behind a child’s activities and behaviour. He does nothing without some motive or reason. Every childish reaction is not a whim. It is something more. It is a problem to be solved, a riddle to be answered. The adults must adopt a new attitude towards the child. As a parent, do understand the baby’s tantrums and respect his moods. He is already a distinct individual. He is born through you but he has a mind of his own. Give him a peaceful environment and he will build his own thoughts. The tree is already in the seed.

If a child could express himself, he would tell us that deep down he has little confidence in us just as we have little confidence in him, since our separate ways of thinking are so foreign to each other.


Dr Shayama Chona, is the former Principal of Delhi Public School, R K Puram, New Delhi; Founder President of Tamana (NGO for physically & mentally handicapped children); Founder of Anubhav Shiksha Kendra (a school for the under-privileged); she has been a member of 96 Advisory Boards and Committees; she has been nominated to Managing Committees of 46 schools and other educational institutions; she has been named in the Limca Book of Records 2007. She has been awarded the State Award for Services in Education 1993, National Award for Services as a Teacher of Outstanding Merit 1994, National Award for Outstanding Performance for Welfare of People with Disabilities 1997, Padma Shri 1999, Padma Bhushan 2008, and 49 other awards. She lives at C10/8, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-110057. Email: shayamachona@gmail.com, tamanapresident@gmail.com

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