Sunday, September 27, 2009

Willpower is not enough to change big handicaps

I was seeing the interview of Hrithik Roshan in the Farah Khan's show of 'Tere Mere Beech mein'. The story of Hrithik Roshan came out as a very poignant story of a child who has emerged from all his handicaps to achieve something of significance.

Hrithik Roshan suffered from Dyslexia. He used to stammer and could not utter a single line in a flow. He was therefore bullied & hackled by classmates and became a loner. As he said ' I used to get scared of getting up in the morning' because of the fear of going through another day. He used to bunk 'oral exams' using different justifications like stomach ache, fever and others. With no 'platform' to practice 'speech', his speech had no chance to improve. He was caught in a vicious cycle.

As he said, very hesitantly, during the interview, the support and help from the home is not useful at such times. Because they keep on insisting 'Keep trying, and you will succeed'. Their love sometimes get transferred into anger when repeated attempts lead to failures. It does not work. Love and support, instead of facilitating the change, perhaps begins a constant source of nagging which one starts avoiding.

An unexpected event changed the pattern for Hrithik. Once, when he went to beach, he saw kids of his age doing 'somersaults'. He asked them to teach them. He fell down. But with their support, he kept on working on it. And suddenly, one day, he did 'somersaults'. For him, this was a pattern-changing event. As he commented in his interview ' I was zero in this. If i could learn to do somersaults after some attempts, why can't i do it with my speech'. This new lucky 'sensemaking' helped him start afresh.

Every day he started practicing speaking words and paras alone loudly in his room.(He still follows this practice for an hour every day.) That practice allowed him to 'build' the confidence to speak in public. And as he spoke, he must have got 'positive feedback' from it. With positive 'feedback' from speaking, he must have practiced more and more. His earlier vicious cycle got changed into virtuous cycle. It is not will-power alone that is enough in such instances to change the pattern. Neither is love enough.

For children who stammer, this is an important lesson. They need to find their own 'virtuous' pattern. They must take help from such 'groups' which help. For instance, Hrithik Roshan offered one child in the audience his phone nos so that Hrithik can help him with tips. At such times, a help from a person who has gone the same path is very important, because that person can exactly 'second-guess' what is happening and guide better than other 'normal' advisors. Such 'groups' exist. If you can connect with them, they offer important guidance that is crucial. Now your job is to help fill the gaps and help your child move into a 'virtuous' pattern.

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