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The 'Yuck' block!

"Hey, can you please clear this dead cockroach"?

"Yuck! No way!!!"

"Hey, are you done with dinner?"

"Yeah mom"

"Can you then, please wash these two other bowls along with your plate ?"

"Yuck! I don't feel like touching the insides of those bowls"

"Hey, but you just ate the stuff which was cooked in those very bowls!"

I'm guessing you've understood by now, what this 'Yuck' block is all about! And this mindset seems to be increasing with each new generation. I know I am generalising, but that is what I'm seeing especially in urban kids from financially well to do families.

So, why should we even think about this, let alone try and fix this block? After all, even some parents who seem to have this block or a feeling of 'this is not my job'!

As it is, the younger generation is losing out on a number of important life skills during their formative years due to a life style which is driven by excessive focus on academics, reduced opportunities to learn-by-doing at home because there is a maid, a driver and perhaps a cook too, to take care of everything. Less they get involved in running the house, more the chances of them developing this 'Yuck' block.

Now that we have understood what this block is and how it seems to develop, let us understand the implications in life considering the future of these younger generation of kids with brilliant potential.

Becoming too dependent

Without basic skills, and on top of it being controlled by this 'Yuck' mindset, it becomes very easy for one to become dependent on others to get jobs done. And this rarely changes as we grow older. Probably goes from bad to worse! Explains why many young kids become 'homesick' after moving to hostels for higher studies. There is no one that they can go to for their laundry, they have to manage their own finances (though allowances are paid by parents), or run to when faced with food/health issues and such. After all, the haven't been exposed to handling any of this at all. Even if they do learn and change to some extent, they still find these tasks ranging from being tough and almost impossible, to disgusting and boring!

In a Professional environment

Many, fail to develop empathy. I've seen young doctors hardly understanding the difficulty that senior citizens face to do simply things like standing up and walking when they are unwell or weak. After all, these young doctors, perhaps never really took time to help their grand parents/parents when they were unwell during their growing up years. In today's environment, many families prefer to stay in independent apartments even if they are in the same apartment complex. This has its own benefits no doubt, in terms of independence for all concerned, but it also has its down side!

Even in other professions, lack of empathy and inability to understand the big picture, prevents many working professionals from appreciating the efforts of colleagues in other departments. There is perhaps no support function staff in any company who hasn't faced this in his/her environment! Everyone needs to understand that all jobs are important. There can be differences when it comes to relative complexities and skills needed, but when it comes to dignity of labour, young people should be taught that they should respect and appreciate all jobs regardless of what their personal goals and capabilities are.

I recall a quote by some famous personality which my father used to share with me. This personality was once cleaning his pair of shoes. An assistant walked in and blurted, "Sir, why are you cleaning your own shoes?" and the reply from the great personality was, "Well, are you suggesting I should be cleaning someone else's?". There is more than one message in that response!

These are some of the topics I discuss with my young students in the AltEd Applied Learning Program when it comes to Applied Skills and Applied Thinking. The goal is to get these pre-teens to understand and appreciate the fact that all round development and flexibility to adapt are key essentials in careers and in life too. Our likes and dislikes should never exist in the extremes. It is not that we have to keep doing tasks which we do not have a natural liking for, but sometimes it becomes our duty or responsibility - like say changing the soiled nappies of our new born in the middle of the night!

As parents and/or mentors, the least we can do is to set an example and inspire young minds. Inspire them to take an interest in helping out not only within the house, but within society. Develop a sense of empathy for all around. The results can be very very rewarding at multiple levels.

To learn more about the FirstStep program for 18-25 year olds click here

To learn more about AltEd, click here

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