It’s very, very hard to bring up children nowadays, particularly with all the things that they see, watch, read, and hear. Children don’t know what is right and what is wrong, what should be done or what should not be done, so certain things must be taught. It takes so much thinking to educate a children and to know how to deal  with them. In fact, they help us to think and to find the ways and means. Because if you don’t know how to handle the situations then you get upset and you get angry and you might even hit them. This is not helpful.

The entire family atmosphere should be peaceful and calm. Food should be sattvic (pure and clean). Let the children listen to sattvic music and read good books. You cannot ask them to see all kinds of wild pictures and then expect them to be calm. Parents have to take care of all these things. It is worth doing, and it’s a parent’s duty to do that. You have brought forth a soul into the world and you have to take care of that soul in the proper way.

Children can even be introduced to Yoga while they are still in the womb. How? By the parents becoming good yogis. Children are best taught by example. Words don’t carry much weight. The children watch you. They naturally try to follow and imitate. Your duty is to develop your spiritual side, and let the children see it. That is the best way of teaching children. If you want your children to be good yogis be a good yogi yourself.

When parents do asanas, their children will come and lie down. They will try to pull their hands and legs here and there. Set examples for them. You don’t even need to tell them what to do. The best way to teach is by setting good examples. It is our mistake when a child cries for everything it wants. It comes because the child has been given whatever it wants by us,  just to stop it from crying. If you do that, you are spoiling the child. Even if the child kicks and cries they must come to understand that no means no. That is the way you teach children. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them.

If you really love the child, don’t just give everything when the child cries. When the child stops crying, you say “Okay, now you can have it because you have stopped crying. You are asking nicely.” Very often, the minute you say no, we see the children just fall down, kick and roll in a tantrum, because they know that by doing so, they get what they want. We can teach them that by making a fuss they will never get what they are demanding.

When they are ready to listen and want to understand better, you can talk to them in a convincing way. Don’t simply say, “Do this. Don’t do that.” Every time you say something like that, you should present the reason also. You should tell them, “It is for your own benefit. It’s for your welfare, your physical health, mental health, your social health. If you do this, you will ruin all that. If you do the other way, you will enhance that.”

My greatest inspiration comes from seeing a baby. I admire babies the most. Because in babies, you see the real divinity. In children you see the divine. Fortunately, we were all children once upon a time. We lost that innocence, lost that purity. We have to get back to that childlike life. You can be always happy, joyful, peaceful. And you will inspire others also, by your mere presence. All the prophets have said that. It is among the children that God’s Kingdom lies. Be a child, an innocent child. See that your children imitate their childlike parents. You will be happy, the children will be happy, and the world will be happy around you.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda