By Kamlesh D Patel (Daaji), Global Guide of Heartfulness Institute
One of the most important things we can do for our children is to help them cultivate two qualities
– observation and interest – which are inter-related. Taking interest often comes first; the more
interest you take, the more you will observe. But there is also a positive feedback loop, as the more
you observe the more interest you generate.
Here is a stepwise progression of simple activities to encourage children to take interest and
1. Be a role model: Children take interest when you are interested – especially small children.
They catch your interest and start to observe, and this indirect interest creates a destiny. When
they are older, it’s a different matter; they take interest based on their own inner voice.
2. Exercise their senses by asking them questions: From the age of two onwards, encourage
them to listen. Sit quietly with your little ones, and ask them to observe what is happening
around them: “Do you hear birds?” “How many birds do you hear?” “Close your eyes and listen
again: What else do you hear?” You can also ask, “What do you see around you?”
Help them develop a sense of direction. When I take my two-and-a-half-year-old
granddaughter for a walk, at every crossroads I ask her, “Should I go this way or that way?” She
chooses the correct direction every time. This keeps her mind very alert.
Sometimes I take her to the terrace and ask, “Is it morning or evening?” Initially I made two
lines: When the sun is on one side it is morning, and when the sun is on the other side it is
evening. Now, she doesn’t use the lines anymore. She is able to say, “The sun will rise on this
side,” and “The sun will set on this side.” Her sense of direction has developed from a very early
When you visit friends, afterwards, ask your children questions like, “What did you see?” “From
which direction did we enter, from the east or the north?” “How many sofas did you see? What
colours were they?” “What was the colour of the wall and ceiling?” “What were the family
members wearing?” “What were their children talking about?” Take interest in the meaning of
When you out walking, invite your little ones to smell the flowers along the way, without
plucking them. Let them experience the different fragrances of various flowers. Let them touch
the different leaves in the garden, as well as the fabrics in your home – curtains, towels, clothes
etc. Encourage them to feel, so that they learn to differentiate through their sense of touch.
This also helps in the development of their brain. Their senses will be refined.
3. Encourage creativity and originality: When children are really happy they often make up songs.
Ask them, “Tell me about this song. Why is it so funny? Is it funny, or are you funny?” Some
children like to draw, paint, or make things. Every child is different.
4. Inner observation to explore feelings, emotions and moods: Expose children at an early age to
their emotions and moods. Gradually, the patterns will emerge from inside – all the moods that
colour everyday life. Some emotions affect them to the extent of physically making them tired.
For example, when they cry, afterwards they may realize, “I feel very tired.” By asking them,
you are highlighting these moods.
Help them to focus on their inner state: “Are you feeling peaceful, calm, still, happy, joyful or
blissful?” This is a spectrum of feelings. Most adults don’t differentiate between happiness, joy
and bliss, but the difference helps us understand our inner evolution. And they are easily leant
through interest and observation. Children will learn that bliss is lighter, happiness is heavier,
and joy is somewhere in between. Similarly, when they are sad, help them to discover the
spectrum of sadness.
Mastering awareness of their feelings is the direction we want to go. When they are tired and
you ask, “Are you tired?”, they will answer “Yes.” They will know the feeling of tiredness and be
able to express it. When they are fresh and happy and you ask, “How does it feel to feel really
fresh?” it also registers with their inner trans-sensory faculties. Asking a specific question at the
right time hits the mark.
5. Observe breathing and energy patterns: With teenagers, ask them to observe their breathing
patterns: “Are you breathing fast or slow?” “What is the pattern of your breathing when you
are happy?” “And when you are angry?” “Which nostril is dominant at various times of the
day?” Don’t give answers; let them observe and note it in their journal. They can then study the
Next, they can learn to observe whether they are radiating or absorbing energy at any given
moment, especially once they meditate. This is a subtler thing again.
6. Go deeper within, become aware of emptiness: When they have learnt to meditate, ask them,
“As you go deeper, observe the emptiness within you. How empty are you?” At this stage they
are transcending feelings.
In essence, let’s see how we can inspire them to take interest in various aspects of life. When they
take interest, they will observe, and through observation they will finally conclude.