Using threats can be counter productive

 

Using threats to get children to follow instructions or be obedient is nothing less than assuming them to be robots. Threats in my experience are counterproductive, yet they continue to be a tool being deployed by parents wanting their children to finish a meal, behave in public or to complete their studies or homework quickly.

 

Some of the threats I have come across are, study or else a ghost will come, finish your food quickly or else a strange uncle will take you away, behave yourself or the police will come and catch you — possibly some of the most common ones doing the rounds.

 

If one were to step back and think, these threats are doing nothing but scarring the child for life. They are likely to develop fears and may also develop possible psychiatric issues, which may play out at a latent level or be witnessed through mannerism and behaviours. The kids are too young to rationalize the threat and will only react in fear.

 

A more practical approach, which requires patience and tact, could be to break the situation into questions and then answering the same to sensitize the child. This would be more impactful in making the child realize that what they are doing is wrong and hopefully set a precedence. For example if we were facing a situation wherein the child is not eating his or her food, some possible questions around how does the body get energy, what happens when the body is energy deprived, etc., would certainly help in the child understanding the importance of correct and timely nourishment.

 

So as parents, next time we decide to deploy threats to get what we want the child or children to do, remember, we are possibly creating a problem. Pause, and put yourself in the shoes of the child and think how you would react if someone with power were to pull the same threat on you.

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How can husbands help during the breast feeding phase

Any pregnancy, be it normal or complicated, is tough. Keeping the mother’s.biological and psychological adjustments aside, the ladies have to adjust to changes in lifestyle as well as giving up quite a few things that they may enjoy. In such a scenario it is up to the man to step in and make sure that the mother- to- be is comfortable and has all that she needs.

Post the delivery the situation escalates as now the mum needs more support hands-on as well as emotionally. My wife had a complicated pregnancy and c-sec delivery and I know first-hand how breastfeeding can become that much more complicated.

Traditional roles have placed Dads as the providers and mothers as the nurturers. However, one of the things fathers have to remember at all times is that they are equally responsible in conception and birth of a child. While the mother does the hard work of carrying the baby for nine months and then delivering the child, Dads too have contributed in creating a living being and, therefore, they too must take responsibility for bringing up the child.

And this is a demanding life-long journey. The first of which begins in feeding the baby numerous times a day and at odd hours. Here is where as fathers we can play a significant role to ensure that the stress on the mother is reduced and the important task of breast feeding the baby is not impacted in any way. Breast feeding goes a long way in building immunity and has numerous other benefits which have been articulated by the medical profession.

Sleeping in another room basis the excuse that the child waking up in the middle of the night and will disturb your sleep is hardly valid as it is the same for the mother. While there may be work pressure to deal with, picking up the baby in the night if it cries can only help in reducing the stress on the mother. Yes, in the initial few months, the child may wake up for a feed, but there are ways around that as well and other times too when the husband can easily assist. Having the mother express her milk and you taking the charge in the night is one such way.

When my son was born, I was on late night shift and had set up a schedule with my wife where she would express and leave a bottle ready so I could take the early evening feeding and she could sleep longer, this also gave me exclusive bonding time with my little angle. This arrangement also meant that I could take the little fellow for evening walks and not be worried about the feed and giving the wife much needed rest and recovery.

The first couple of months for new parents and first-time mothers can be fairly chaotic, with well-wishers and closet experts sharing varying opinions.

However, in all the chaos and excitement which accompanies a birth, one crucial aspect for the sake for the baby is for the mother to breast feed as long as possible and for this the husband and the eco system in the house has to be supportive

I am doing my bit as a dad and husband, are you?

Rise and Shine – waking them in the morning is not a cake walk

Driven by school timings, kids generally do not have the luxury of sleeping in late. Yes, vacations and weekends do provide them an opportunity stay a-bed a little longer, but primarily they are bound by the clock and have to get into a routine of sleeping and waking up on time.

While making them hit the sack has its own challenges, we have found waking up in the morning the bigger of the twobattles.

Here are some effective tools we have managed to deploy in our favour:

• Gently nudging the child to wake up and snuggling/tickling

• Putting on the music in the morning works wonders most kids are fond of music and are likely to rise from their slumber

• Switching off the fan / air conditioner or removing the quilt /blanket depending upon which geography you are in. Yes, does sound mean but the response is fairly quick and fast.

• Last and a little extreme is to splash some water on them (again a may seem a little harsh, but do keep in mind that the little angle is also a superb actor and is probably only pretending to snuggle in to avoid leaving a warm and comfortable bed)

While, it is natural for us to take it easy on a Friday eve as there is no pressure of morning alarms the next day, avoiding a late bedtime ensures that routines are not alarmingly disrupted. Sticking to the daily schedule with only a slight variance will mean that the entire weekend can be fruitful and meaningfully deployed for catch up on studies and other outdoor excursions and, if nothing else, just bonding time with the family.

Please do remember that any of the above mentioned techniques can also be deployed by the children over the weekends when you are trying to catch up on your sleep. So if you do feel a splash of water rudely awakening you from your dreams there is no retort available as it is fairly tit for tat scenario

Learning spellings is still relevant for kids

Are competitions like Spelling B likely to lose their lustre in the coming years? Probably no, but the way technology is changing life around us, they may come under a serious threat.

Case in point, the auto correct or the intuitive features in most smart phones and tablets today. The minute the kids become older and start sharing or using these devices to communicate with friends and family through text, mails or other apps available in the technological world you’ll discover that 8 year olds are very adept and nimble in figuring out that through this feature they don’t have to concentrate and get the correct spelling. To me this is one of the few instances where technology can be defeating.

While we cannot wish technology away, here are some recommended steps:
1. Switch off the auto spell or intuitive feature in the phones / tablets
2. Encourage the child to spell out the word aloud before they punch it in
3. Reading is a must as it strengthens word formation. Encourage them to read out loud as they pick up reading. It helps in correcting the pronunciation as well.
4. Popular games like ATLAS played with the spelling version. Various renditions of ATLAS can be created depending upon interest. For example Atlas around car models works wonderfully well with boys.
5. Games like Name / Place / Animal / Thing to be played with a piece of pen and paper and extra marks for correct spellings

Critics may question the need for correct spellings as well as the need for traditional writing and a good penmanship, but then again, these are basic fundamentals which we have to help get the child right.

The points above can definitely aid in learning even though there will be a push back after a couple of attempts.

Battle for the TV remote

Parents, time for you to give up the battle for the TV remote in summer vacations!

I am sure this problem is not unique to me but possibly faced by families across the world. TV watching is an integral part of evenings for most families. Higher the family number, greater is the battle for the remote. Tastes and preferences vary with age and across family members. While men have a skew towards sports, women may lean towards soaps, family & drama, and for children, the first point of addiction is usually cartoons, edutainment and super-hero movies as they grow older.

Advancements in technology today have increased the number of screens we access during the day and have also given us options for the consumption of content. However, the simple pleasure of sitting together and catching up with the family cannot be replaced, even if it is as family hour over dinner or with TV. Kids, however, demand their exclusive TV time away from the family. If we succumb to this demand then we are only increasing their screen time.

Is there a way out? One possible solution could be that the family hour and the children TV time are clubbed together. The challenge is to break the grip of mindless and violent cartoons to loop in something more relevant and entertaining such as the new edutainment channel in India, DaVinci Learning. Having seen some of the shows in the evening with my son, I must say they offer a wide variety of informative content created in an captivating manner for kids and adults alike.

If this route does not work, the other solution could be fixed slots with a hard stop, where the children are allowed to watch channels such as DaVinci Learning for entertainment and educative learning. Hard stop is most definitely required as most kids learn early the power of “five minutes more” as they know the adult is likely to get distracted and the five minutes can easily become fifteen.

Yes, I do have a lot of experience of this debate as well. Either solution, mutually agreed upon, could work wonders in harbouring peace as against the battle for the remote.

Making our kids future ready

It will be safe to assume that most parents will, within their means, try and give the best of everything to their children, be it schooling, exposure, sports, materialistic possessions or, most importantly, principles and values.

While parents will have their own inimitable style and experiences to share and dwell on, two values which according to me stand out are as follows:

Dare to be different i.e. not straight jacketed, treading on paths unknown and breaking stereotypes. Seeing the number of new and different kind of businesses surround us it is evident that there are a number of people who create their own paths. The other value of significant importance is the ability to share. In a hyper competitive world we are all busy trying to acquire, live and build upon our dreams. Focus is on achieving, achieving and achieving more. While we are on a roller coaster ride pursuing achievements, it is of utmost importance to keep in mind the lesser haves, particularly in the third world and developing countries.

Interestingly, I am seeing quite a few communication campaigns based on these two values on television, one of the leading brands being Surf Excel. The brand has taken an angle that “dirt is good” to communicate that nothing is wrong in getting your hands dirty for a righteous and kind purpose without worrying about “daag”. Additionally, the ad shows friends helping and supporting each other.

The seeds of sharing as well as making your own path have to be sown at a very early age. It is fairly easier for kids with siblings than single children. Typically, this begins with sharing toys and goodies like chocolates and sweets with each other at home. With age the circle gets wider and can extend to old books, clothes and games, etc. Through free play, interaction and trial and error children learn to rely on themselves and their own decisions.

Parents can lead by example to inculcate confidence in children so they do not hesitate in exploring their paths in life. In a hyper-competitive world, as parents, we can only hope for the best for our kids and ensure we provide them the right platform to make a success in life. It is equally important for us to not stress on achievements alone but to encourage the children to develop into well-rounded individuals who know how to stand for themselves as well as the art of giving back to the society they live in.

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March is spent under the influence of examination fever, especially for parents with children in higher classes, also for the kids themselves. Some children in primary school also have to go through the rigour of exams albeit just for grades at the end of the academic session.

After examination fever pales, the anxiety of results/grades and beginning of a new academic session rules. Post the hurrah or disappointment of the results comes the task of preparing to go back to school, ie. new class, new session and a new start.

The key here being “new”, that is uniforms, shoes, stationery and most importantly books and of course a different class with different subjects, new teachers and at times new friends in schools which have a policy of shuffling the children each academic year. Last Parents Teachers Meeting (PTM) of the academic year where results are shared is usually followed by parents with the kids in tow making a beeline for the stationery and or uniform shop. To avoid serpentine queues most schools would give a window of a week or a fortnight to stock up on the “new”.

This year a trend I noticed on social networking sites parents recycling old books and notebooks to be used as reference material. Brilliant initiative without a doubt, but is there a way out of the long queues to pick up the new stuff in school?

Yes, there are shops in markets that are authorised to sell certain school uniforms, there are always stationery shops with pre prepared book bundles for each grade as per syllabus and then there are the shoe shops brand franchisees to save the parents and children another trip to the school.
The bottom line in the school or market choice is the apparent lack of perceived convenience for parents in the whole process. Yes, this is how we have been procuring new uniform, books, shoes and stationery for the children in the beginning of each academic cycle and I guess are tuned to it.

With e-commerce booming and the rapid proliferation of smart phones it was only a matter of time before the marketers on such platforms recognised the opportunity in catering to this particular audience, which in sheer numbers is humongous.

So this year I decided to buck the routine and explore the online world. Most e.tailers have categories for schools, however, I came across an aggregator for just school in schoolkart which was a very pleasant and economical experience.

Replacement or new purchase now with the convenience of a click, thereby making going back to school only easier and more pleasant.

Teasing and impact on kids

Teasing or being teased, once in a while, is part of the social fabric and life.

While the skew of teasing is more towards personal traits/ habits we may witness or experience it occasionally in our professional lives as well. While it does give us a laugh or two, too much of it can be a pain and detrimental to the confidence of the one being teased.

Maturity and the ability of handle it will vary from person to person and unsaid rules, such as not crossing the line and not hitting below the belt, will determine how the episode will end, whether it will be laughed off or take an ugly turn. There is a very thin line between teasing and bullying and at times people do not recognize that.

While as adults we are better places to tackle teasing, kids may not have the ability to understand it or laugh it off. Kids who are on the heavier side or wear specks may be subject to some amount of teasing by peers in class or seniors in the school bus. Similarly, kids with different personality traits, say the shy and reserved types, may become easy victims of teasing. Peer isolation may prevent such kids from reporting the matter to the teachers or at home which can have severs repercussions over a period of time.

What is important in such situations is to recognize symptoms or changes in the child’s behavior. Disinterest to go to school or the child suddenly becoming reserved may be clear indicators that something is wrong. Keeping the communication channels open and coaxing the child to share everything with you is extremely crucial.

Post identification of the problem come the critical matter of equipping the child to deal with the situation. As a first step, ensuring that they don’t take the verbal jibes personally or seriously will go a long way in them being able to ignore it. Second, the need for them to not get cowed down and have the presence of mind to give it back without getting into a fight. Third, in a worst case scenario reporting to the school authorities and lastly picking up the phone on the parents to settle the matter once and for all.

The discretion of leveraging  steps three and four would rest on us, the parents, typically, in extreme cases otherwise we may handicap the child if we pitch in to fight every battle in his life including the smallest one.

And lastly most importantly have the ability to laugh at yourself… and give your kids this very important ability too