Minimalistic Parenting

Minimalistic parenting is contingent to the age of the child. As the child grows, the spaces in which parental involvement is required change i.e. older the child higher is minimalistic parenting. The route with older children is around  discussions and making the right choices.

However, that said, today younger kids too are being brought up in a highly democratic environment as opposed to the earlier generations. More and more parents today involve or let the child lead the decision with regards to home spaces like their rooms, their extracurricular schedules and the choice of activities they want to pick up, what kind of a party they want to plan and the friends they want to call. They also influence to some extend the choice of family vehicles , consumer durables and mobile phones to be bought.

This empowerment only helps in the child being more confident, feeling involved and participate in decision making. The mantra is no longer my way (parents) or the highway.

Minimalist parenting does come with caveats though, as too much freedom can soon extend to more serious decision making without parents consent and involvement. This change would then result in conflicts – reigning in the child does have merit, especially when it comes to areas where age and wisdom matter more than freedom of choice.

Loosing and kids

It is a hyper competitive world and kids too, sooner or later, get exposed to the concept of winning and losing. The act actually starts very early, usually at home, through board games and other games we play as a family  and of course there is always sibling rivalry.

While as parents, at times we let the child wins by design, but outside the comfort of the home this is not a reality. Kids as young as 3 years want to win even though they may not understand the true significance of winning a 50 meters race. The excitement and reactions the win generates in the parents and other family members only seeds the thought that winning is the route to recognition and at time rewards.

Every engagement which has a result has to be conquered by winning is the mindset with which it is approached.

Having tasted early success they, at times, cannot cope with the occasional loss. Not winning at times leads to tantrums where wining is actually claimed as a right!.

So while inculcating the need for winning, it is equally important to ensure that the child is sensitized that each and every game cannot result in a victory. Everybody cannot be a winner and that there are second and third place finishes as well. Winning and losing are two sides of the same coin and a part of life. Both have to be embraced through ones journey in life.

Role playing in single kids

In my observation single kids have a higher tendency to indulge in role playing and making up imaginary characters and games. Inclination to do so could stem from the fact that they do not have siblings to play with and may not be adequately engaged outside of school.  In comparison kids who have siblings or those who live in a joint family are likely to be involved within themselves though they too would be making up games and characters.

I do see this with my son indulging  in creating characters and, at times, a complete script of his favorite cartoon / fictional character is developed and enacted. A similar trait I have noticed in kids who have sibling but the age difference between them is significantly high.

Amount of time parents and family members spend with the child and the level of engagement directly impacts the propensity to role play.

As parents, it will always be our endeavor to spend / maximize the time we spend with our children and keep them creatively engaged but at times there are days when this cannot happen.

So the larger question here is that as parents shall we ignore or discourage such role playing? At what age are they likely to outgrow this?

Bullying and impact on kids

Possibility of being subject to bullying or being the butt of jokes can happen anywhere.

What is important is to recognize when your child is possibly being bullied and how as parents are we tackling the situation?

Peers at schools or in playgrounds can unknowingly pick on children basis a particular streak or mannerism and make fun of them. Size is possibly one of the most common one’s where heavy weights are subject to fun and ridicule on account of their size. At times there are references and comparisons made to bigger mammals just to rub home a point and torment the kid in the process. Most critical in such situations is to ensure that the communication channels at home with your kid are open and that as parents we are alert to physical manifestation of the stress that the kid maybe be undergoing.

Loss of appetite, mood swings, and crankiness are some of the most common manifestations. Unwillingness to go to school is a sure shot red flag and needs immediate probing and handling in a calm and composed manner.

Regularly keeping time aside for the child when you encourage them to talk about their day, time spent in school and about their friends will only ensure that the child confides and trusts in you. This will also ensure that one received advance notice any bulling which may be happening and will lay the ground for the parents to counsel and guide the child on how to tackle the situation.

If not tackled it can dent the confidence of the child severely and affect their overall development and growth. In severe cases it may also warrant an escalation to the school authorities or with the parents of the bully.

Kids and physical fitness

Should Physical fitness start early

Physical fitness is something that, unfortunately, may tend to go on to the back burner for some adults due to numerous responsibilities at work and at home. No excuse – but this is true for a lot of us.

What I wanted to take up here was the need to inculcate a formal physical fitness routine for kids. Yes, kids are naturally active and have their share of running around and action during the course of the day. However, in some cases, genetics can play a role in some kids inheriting larger body-frames than their peers. Diet too plays an important role. Therefore, back to my main question – how necessary is it to have a formal physical fitness program?

The pediatricians do recommend some form of physical activity for 30 minutes – especially if the child is on the larger side – such as running, cycling, swimming, sports, etc.

My questions are:

What is the right age to start?

What is the ideal combination of activities?

Can the kids be introduced to gymnasiums and when?

I am aware that strength training is a no–no till the age of 16, but what about cardio workouts?

Many schools in different part of the world have sports and gym classes. Where can one access the rationale and age-appropriate activity information?

When mother is travelling

When mother is travelling :: It could mean chaos for the fathers.

Recently my wife had to travel for work, which meant that I had full responsibility for managing my son‘s schedule. I was gung-ho about the opportunity as it would give me more avenues to bond with him.

So first day, fully charged, I set the alarm for an hour before I needed to wake him up to ensure all the preliminary preparation of ironing uniform, preparing tiffin, breakfast, etc. were done well in time.

Feeling euphoric, I then went on to wake my son, which I realized was a much more difficult task than I had imagined. Nevertheless, being innovative I chose to play some music which finally roused him from his stupor. A quick bath and breakfast, and we were on the bus stand on time. Yeah! Proudly I reached home to realize that I had not given him the water bottle. Boom! I had earned my black mark for the week.

Second day, I armed myself with a checklist to ensure that we don’t miss out on anything and continually crosschecked things mentally. Feeling confident that I had taped things up properly, we left for the bus stop, only to find that we were late and we had missed the bus. Embarking on a mad chase, we finally caught the bus near school.

The third day was not any better from the previous two, this time round we barely managed to reach the school before the gates shut. In short, the week for me was quite a disaster!

So while I cherished my new role, albeit temporary, I was anxiously waiting to hand the baton back to my wife. Truly it does take a lot to manage mornings, besides the multiple other things the mothers do for the kids. Mothers take a bow!

Canteen food @ school versus home food

For older kids who can make nutritious choices and manage quantity as per their physical demands there is no challenge. In fact, this is a boon for the mothers as they don’t have to rack their brains everyday thinking about what to pack for school.

The challenge is with the younger kids who get meals in school. Let me highlight some possible situations which confront them:

  • Quantity to take at one go.
  • Speed of eating so as to manage within the available time.
  • What to choose from the multiple offerings.
  • Ease of eating – ie. With cutlery as opposed to using hands as is the practice with some cuisines in some part of the world.

All or some of the above will lead to a situation where the child is unknowingly consuming an unbalanced diet the results of which are likely to show up much later in life.

One solution the schools could implement is compulsory platted offerings with an emphasis on finishing the food on the plate, not forced but under supervision.

In the absence of the above the onus comes back on the parents to constantly probe the child on what has been consumed at school match it with the weekly food menu and do the mental checks and balances to ensure the right nutritional intake is being consumed.

The alternative is to fall back on the practice of sending tiffin every day, which may not be a practical choice and comes with its own challenges.


Children and Pocket Money

Is there an age to introduce children to money? What is the practice these days? In our days – it was not the pocket money as much as the attraction of piggy banks and the importance of saving money.

While I see the need of colorful piggy banks which make noise as an absolute must, when does one start the concept of pocket money? Is there a right age to do so assuming that basic familiarity with Math and monetary concepts has been introduced?

The larger question is – do we just give them pocket money or do we link it to some chores accomplishment or behaviors or as a reward for academic and extra-curricular excellence?

I would tend to lean towards the need for them to understand the concept of giving services.

In their case it could be just doing simple tasks at home which entitle them to earn pocket money. More contribution and help in the house means more pocket money and also hopefully will make them more responsible.

I am sure all of you would agree with me for the need to make children more aware of discretionary spending – whether it is getting a treat or a toy or a book or maybe even contributing for the underprivileged sections of society.

Will this help in them gaining financial prudence? I certainly hope so.

Home study for kids versus regular school

A concept that is catching on fast, wherein one or both the parents are taking the ownership of imparting education to the child at home. Will this ever become a serious threat to institutions such as pre-school, schools or a preferred mode of imparting education to kids

I doubt it!

I am not from the field of education so would not know the science and logic behind this methodology.

I however strongly believe in the need to expose our children to the numerous learnings which are imparted when they begin their journey in play school besides academics.

How home study can match up to non-academic experiences such as socializing, team work, understanding the concepts of a larger society than just immediate family, discipline, routine, etc? What about numerous new experiences such as the school bus, cafeteria, school outings the list could be endless.

I am not sure of the advantages this methodology brings to the kids?

Summer camps and extra-curricular activities

Yes, it is very essential to channelize your kids’ time and productivity. Give them exposures, learning’s 
and most importantly help spend time during vacations and holidays away from home.  

This also helps give us parents some breathing space and time to catch up with our chores and other tasks.
The question I have is so much action at a young age – can it lead to fatigue and boredom beyond a 

Yes, I know the logic of the exposure and the opportunities we are able to provide in today’s competitive 
environment, but will we be over doing it?

My son, too, has a packed week and weekend because of school, homework, studies and multiple 
classes. Lately, I have heard him complain that he gets only two off days in a week - even though he has 
chosen his hobbies himself.

While I have taken a step back and stopped one particular class for the time being, but am I 
inadvertently causing fatigue, being competitive and giving him opportunities which I may have desired 
to pursue?