Beautiful on the inside
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ELDERS have a way of bringing you down a peg or two with their adages. For instance, I was besotted and introduced the ‘apple of my eye’ to my grandmother. Granny was cordial when they met, then, later, she pulled me aside and said ‘He has a nice face; I wonder if he has nice ways?’ Of course, she is right. Beauty is only skin deep.

Anyone can make themselves look attractive. And nowadays, people are obsessed with the images they portray in the pictures they post on social media. In real life, who knows what they are like in reality? Do they have ambition and integrity? Are they honest, understanding, fair and grounded? What type of coping skills, ethics and qualities do they possess?

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder; people have different tastes. It is the physical appearance that initially attracts us to a person. But how a person looks is not necessarily the way they are. The world is full of beautiful women and good-looking men. Therefore, only a fool falls for ‘looks’. What lies at the heart of a person’s personality and their outlook on life is where more interest should be paid.

There are so many distractions in society for adults and children nowadays; sometimes, it is hard to guide young people in the right way. Parents are busy with work or one thing or another. They hardly find the time to parent their children intentionally. But intentional parenting is a must if children are to attain a decent personality – one that is resilient, humane, honest and dependable.

Bringing up children to be beautiful on the inside is becoming more challenging against the backdrop created by superficial images, ‘celebrities’, and everyday hype promoted on social media and the internet. The bombardment of people posing in pictures is addictive. Even babies are becoming indoctrinated early on in the art of posing for the camera on the phone.

Looks, however, can only take you thus far. Children need to acquire inner qualities that help them develop character. How else will they learn to overcome and survive the twists, turns and pitfalls that will inevitably challenge them in life without a safety net of positive attributes?

Parents and adults have the opportunity to instill virtues and abilities in children by being attentive, caring and by example. Here are two qualities parents should not overlook.

HUMILITY – teaching a child to be humble is an important trait and one that is best modelled consistently as part of a parental lifestyle. Good morals and values, such as fairness, honesty, compassion, forgiveness, loving and caring for others are attributes that families should adopt. They are far more important than charm, style or materialistic ideals. They are fundamental to the balanced development of a child’s inner being -and begins at home.

When a child is loved and valued by parents, he feels secure. Naturally, he emulates his parents’ behaviour. Their attentiveness and support build his self-esteem and confidence- he knows they have his best interest at heart. He does not need validation from his peers or craves to be the centre of attention – he is at peace with himself – the beginning of humility.

He is neither superior nor inferior to others and can admit when he is wrong without losing face or being embarrassed. He can encourage his peers to do well and is happy when they succeed. He is humble and centred – giving credit where it is due and accepting praise modestly. Grown-ups who lack humility can come across as arrogant and self-centred. They tend to carry around a false sense of pride.

GRATITUDE – Adults can help children learn to be grateful for all they receive and have, showing appropriate appreciation and thanks where necessary. Teaching children to say ‘thank you to people who help them, regardless of how small the deed, is a good start. But parents must ensure that it is more than a gesture. Children must truly understand and mean what they say. Allowing children to grow with a sense of entitlement encourages an attitude of ‘easy come, easy go’. There is no sincere appreciation for other people’s time, efforts, or thoughtfulness.

Having food to eat, good health, a lovely home, and a comfortable place to rest should not be taken for granted by children but valued. Someone provided everything they have. Children can show their gratitude by being helpful, keeping their surroundings tidy or doing chores. When families openly acknowledge the everyday things they are grateful for, they realise even the smallest things have a sense of value.

Helping children recognise and express the things they are grateful for can help them understand gratitude, building their resilience and flexibility in adulthood. Gratitude allows families to find the ‘positive elements’ in trying situations.

When it comes to guiding, teaching, nurturing and parenting children, adults are at a disadvantage. Young people are born into a technological age where online activity can shape their personalities, and some parents encourage the same.

Help children to understand that actual values cannot be bought or sold. They come through honing good qualities that stay with us for life. They help people to live together in harmony, with compassion, empathy, understanding and trust. Praise children when they portray these skills; they are building positive characteristics. Don’t be disheartened if these attributes do not fall in place overnight or as soon as you think they should flourish. Don’t give up. Unless adults plant the seeds, they will never take root or grow.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child, call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at

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