“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” – Dr Seuss (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)
The greatest gift that you can give to your child is love of course. The next greatest gift is happiness. It’s easy enough to make a kid happy. Most parents do it the tried-and-tested way: buy them something that they’ve been coveting for the past few weeks, the flavour of the month, or that triple-scoop ice cream cone slathered with chocolate fudge and rainbow sprinkles and crushed cornflake crumbs. Cue lots of laughter, big smiles, happy raised voices, cuddles, kisses, and a whole perfect world in your hand.
But here’s the crunch. There’s an even greater gift than that and it’s to teach your child how to be happy, by himself or herself. Because let’s face it, life is not a carefree, trippy, jaunt down a rainbow highway. There are ups and downs, twists and turns all around, blind spots… heck if it was a dance, it’d be the Jitterbug on speed.
Now what if you could teach your child how to navigate the map of life, face obstacles and overcome them with dignity, live – really live – in joy and positivity, and emerge from adversity wiser? Because if you are responsible for your child’s every happiness, if you’ve manufactured his every happy moment, how is he going to cope with life with you are gone or when a bad experience hits when you’re not with him?
With the SoulKids programme, Vikas Malkani hopes to impart what he calls “essential life skills for children” to help them enhance their strengths and learn to create their own happiness and success. In a nutshell, to find, and be, their very own ‘power of one’.
It all started when Vikas was coaching adults to find happiness, purpose in life, relationships, and passions. He realised that most of the adults’ hang-ups developed from their mindset and thinking as children. “They were trying to change the external world, without looking in. That’s the problem,” the 43-year-old creator of Soulkids explains.
Enter SoulKids, where problems are sorted from the root. After going though the SoulKids programme, Vikas says, children will be able “to create their own happiness and success”.
The sessions, for children aged between six and 10, and eleven and 16, are held over two full days. They involve storytelling, role-play, games, and exercises that draw out qualities needed for teamwork, communication, and enhancement of the child’s inner strengths.
“We teach children that they have the ability to create their own life, we teach them the power of their own mind,” Vikas asserts passionately. That the man is devoted to this cause is clear. The father (to two grown sons with his ex-wife) has authored several books for children, inspired by the transformations that he has witnessed. He criss-crosses the globe to give talks, guide lives, and train mentors to carry on the work.
His passion is reflected in that of the participants’. Vikas relates how entire families have changed: the child attends a SoulKids session, the mother is amazed and attends an adult session, the father sees the mother’s transformation and is amazed; he signs up for a session, and ends up training to become a SoulKids mentor.
The success of the SoulKids programme has also led to the creation of a one-day SoulParents workshop that offers parents (and parents-to-be) “the keys to becoming the best, the happiest and the most successful parent you can become”, as well as the ability to “give children essential life-skills for happiness, confidence and success”.
Possibly the biggest clue that all this works, and that it rocks the world for kids, is the heartfelt tribute that parents and children who have experienced it give. Vikas tells the story of an eight-year-old boy who refused to step foot into the centre on the first day of the course. His mother had signed him up and he was sure that he would not like it.
Vikas told the boy that it was okay to just sit outside and look in through the glass walls. Ten minutes later, the boy was watching the proceedings with interest. Twenty minutes later, he wanted to be part of it. The next day, he was at the centre half an hour before time. And as he left, the boy proclaimed, “SoulKids scores a million out of a million”.
Find out more about SoulKids here and about SoulParents here. See dates for upcoming workshops here. Vikas Malkani’s books can be found here.