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Have You Taught Your Kids Cooking This Way? Quarantine Parenting Activity-1

In this period of lockdown in India for 21 days since March 25th, 2020, I believe that we all are blessed and fortunate to see many trainers, coaches, teachers, and artists who are selflessly offering their services to engage, entertain and teach our kids.

As the days are passing by and every new activity seems old and boring for kids, parents are scratching their heads to find new activities and games for their children – Do you agree? and that’s why – ‘things to do with children at home’ is one of the highest searches on Google today.

Cooking a meal together as a family.

We all have taught our children cooking at some point or the other. Children are often curious and interested to learn cooking but as much as they display their excitement, in the beginning, it slowly starts to fade. They stop helping us in the kitchen, they care less about how they can contribute, they enjoy cooking but cleaning and washing is a nightmare.

This is a common activity but the way I propose you do it in 4 steps is something new.

Step -1 – Demonstrate cooking as a process.

Cooking is one activity of a larger process.

The reason it is a process is that it starts with procurement and selection of ingredients, chopping and cutting vegetables and other necessary preparations, setting up the dining table, cooking the food and finally clearing the table and washing the cutlery and drying them up.

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As we demonstrate the process it’s equally important for us to give our kids the exposure, freedom, and learning where they are involved in the process rather than being instructed and taught.

Step-2 – Share the idea a day before.

Ask your children of their plans for the next day and then share your idea.

When children feel respected and valued of their work and time, they easily contribute in supporting their family.

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You can just say – ‘I would love that together as a family we prepare a delicious meal to have together, would you guys like to do it sometime tomorrow?’. Children are always thrilled to display their skills and talents and I’m sure they would be equally excited.

Step – 3 – Encourage your kids to follow the cooking process

Encourage your children to do most of the work of the cooking process. Right from the start to the end. Doing this chore as a family together your contribution would be to SUPPORT. Be involved as a family but allow your children to take the stage today.

You can support by avoiding, advising, taunting or shaming them in a manner where they feel discouraged.

Avoid using words like – ‘don’t you know something as simple as this’, you don’t know how to cut a carrot?, ‘wait give it to me, let me show you how it’s done’. And the moment you take their stage, they will leave it for you to do the rest.

Instead support in a manner where they feel encouraged and appreciated – you can say things like – ‘Wow..I love seeing you so excited; I’m just outside setting the table, if you need something dear let me know. ’’

The kids hear this as ‘My parents believe in me and are available to support anytime without any judgements. A definite moment for your child to feel emotionally connected to you.

Step – 4 – Make it Fun, Make it Play

Creating moments doesn’t necessarily have to be over a cup of ice cream or pizza or a movie or a fun game. Fun and connection can also be created whilst doing a chore.

Children often hear the words chore and responsibilities as PRESSURE. And that’s because we expect them to take these chores seriously as it’s a life skill. We somehow unintentionally pressure them up to perform.

It’s important to understand that children never learn with pressure, they learn better through play.

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So, play some music, share some stories, laugh, have some dance and  grab your camera, and whilst everyone is immersed in joy and love, capture the moments for old times sake.

Wishing you all the very best. Stay safe and keep creating beautiful family memories.

 

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COVID-19 Fun Exercise Games & Indoor Activities For Kids To Replace Outdoor Fun

If we ask our children – “Do you want to stay in or go out to play with friends?”

Obviously, their reply would be to play outdoors. It’s an inherent human nature to enjoy being outside.

And this stands true and strong for children if we think back of our own childhood days, especially the summer holidays, playing all day out in the scorching sun and the only intervals would be lunch and dinner.

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But now with COVID-19 pandemic, children have no option but to stay indoors. With countries announcing lockdowns and curfews for weeks, we are suddenly finding ourselves with abundant time and keeping children engaged has become a challenging task for many parents.

Many parents are offering plenty of play and activity materials, scheduled screen time, participating in children’s play and activities, yet it seems like it’s not enough.

Outdoor play is essential for children as they feel more active, engaged and most importantly provides a sense of freedom.

An experiment was conducted where 46 preschoolers in daycare were studied. The researchers attached an accelerometer and a GPS device to track the child’s movement all through the day.

When the results were analyzed, it was surprising to learn that children who played outdoors were twice more active.

Realizing the fact that children enjoy playing and being outdoors, how do we provide children almost a similar experience whilst staying indoors?

I am sharing eight fun exercises that I have either played with my son or niece. And towards the end of the article, I would be sharing a tip to make the most of these exercises by committing a small fraction of your time. (Exercise – 2,4 & 8 are my favorite).

1. Yoga Poses: As a family, we all can do this together. Workout a few yoga poses and challenge our children if they can perform the same pose. Any pose that we think would challenge the inner spirit of our child would get him/her more excited.

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2. Playing Hopscotch: I assume that we have all played this game sometime in our childhood and I still see elderly people playing this game during the weekends.

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We can play this game on our terrace or balcony or even draw the numbers on a long carpet and play indoors. It might seem an old game and we could be assuming that our children wouldn’t find this exciting. But I have played this with my niece and cousins and it’s always fun when it gets competitive.

3. Balloon Ball: There are endless ways to play with balloons. We could tie a thread from one chair to another and create a net to play balloon volleyball or tennis.

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Or keep hitting the balloon high so as to keep it off the ground or we could also play catch-catch.

4. Obstacle Course: This one idea was suggested by a friend of mine, whose child thoroughly enjoys playing it with his mum. Create obstacles using furniture – dining chairs, sofa, low stools, ladder, etc.

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Prepare your child to cross the obstacles and reach the winning point. He/she will have to sneak out of the chair legs, climb the ladders, jump on the sofa and reach the endpoint. The sky is the limit to be creative and elaborate in designing this.

5. Waterbottle Bowling: We do not have the luxury of visiting a mall or a bowling alley. So let’s create a fun bowling alley in our balcony, living room or at the terrace. Fill up water bottles and let’s use any ball that we have.

6. Headstand: Kids are often natural with this activity. Challenge them to increase their timing with the headstand. We can also ask our children to support us with a headstand if we struggle to do it. Children would be delighted to teach and support us.

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7. Learn Some Moves: My 4-year-old niece dances for hours, watching her favorite music video to learn the steps. Today with plenty of How- to’s video on YouTube, it’s now much easier to learn how to bust a move.

 

 

 

8. Hide and Seek: With a lighter version of peek-a-boo to hide and seek, children of all age groups enjoy this thrilling game of hiding themselves in the darkest and remotest places and waiting for the seeker to find them.

 

Playing this game in the house is more fun with children hiding in the attic, terrace, bedrooms, toilets, kitchen, etc.

It’s for the first time in our lives that we are experiencing staying in for weeks, and it’s important for us as parents to realize that our children are constantly growing, both physically and mentally. 

 

And to meet this constant growth our involvement or support is essential to help them have some outdoor kinda indoor play. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to be available for them 24*7. 

As promised in the beginning I would recommend using this tool (Precious Time) which works magnificently by committing a small fraction of our time with children in a manner where they truly enjoy the activity and also surprisingly our children feel extremely connected to us.

Definition of Precious Time is:

  • It’s a time and space that we allocate to be present (100%) for our children.

  • During this time, we involve, participate and support our children with any activity that they enjoy playing.

  • And while playing with them, we avoid giving any suggestions, advice, warnings or lessons.

  • Committing half an hour every day to Precious Time has increased the parent-child bonding. Parents have also experienced a decrease in tantrums and aggression in children.

Precious Time has shown commendable and guaranteed results in a smaller time frame from as little as a week if a parent spends half an hour consistently every day.

And having time in abundance in the present, I believe half an hour a day is too little I’m asking for. So, let’s make the most with our children and let’s replace our presents with our presence. 

Requesting you all to stay in to support one another to be safe and healthy.

And please do share if you have any unique ideas of outdoor kinda indoor exercises that would help the parenting community in keeping their children active and engaged.

 

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Are We Obsessed With Perfecting Our Child By Teaching Them What We Want Them To Learn?

Ting…Ting…Ting…My son kept hitting the mallet stick on the xylophone bars. He obviously didn’t know to play it, but the sound of it got him excited.

As a father, I want him to have fun and enjoy but as a parent, I start to look at perfection.

So, I did a bit of hand-holding and demonstrated my son on how to hold it right. For the 10-month-old, the best way to teach him something was to model it for him. (No! Now don’t think of me as a professional player. All I know is how to hold the mallet stick) haha.

And I spent a decent half an hour holding his tiny fingers, helping him get a good grip on that stick first and slowly hit one bar after the other. The only person in the world to believe that I’m good at playing the instrument was my son at the moment.

He innocently moved his eyes back and forth – looking at me and then at the xylophone.

I believed that the teaching was done and the learning had begun. And I confidently handed him the stick and proudly said, “Show me what you just learned from me. Hold this right and play it your way.”

My jaws dropped when he held the stick rightly in his hand and even before waiting to see what would unfold next, I excitedly shouted for my wife to come over and see what I had just taught our son.

But then to my dismay, he slowly lifted the stick and put it into his mouth. My excitement was short-lived but deep down a parenting lesson that I had learned from a quote struck me out of the blue.

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“Shift the focus from doing right to having joy. When children learn to do things purely for the joy of doing it, their performance exceeds parents expectations. They aren’t doing things for external rewards of appreciation, money or fame. They aren’t trying to please people.

Doing things in the state of joy is a deeper form of meditation and the result of which is great focus, strong confidence, high-self esteem and above all the practice of self-love”.

I was now wondering where was I headed in trying to correct my son for the trivial things that have no life long impact?

For a 10-month-old all that mattered was play and as a father, I was doing my best to ruin it for him by making it right.

Like any other parent I was somewhere caught in the lessons of perfection.

As I mull over what I can do about it, I realize three powerful things that we all can do as parents:

Do not make our children a product to showcase: We all often take quick videos, photos or even ask our children to repeat the act to show off to people. I realized that in this process of exhibiting our children we often miss to encourage them to have fun and focus more on bettering them.

For example, a child who loves ice cream and as he relishes every bite, he doesn’t care if the ice-cream has spread all across his face or dripping from his fingers. He is solely obsessed with eating every bit of it. Until an adult comes along to spoil the joy of eating an ice-cream by lecturing about the table and eating etiquette.

We cannot expect our children to act like adults: I certainly agree that the seeds of value and discipline need to be instilled at a very young age. But an important question for all of us to think about is that, at what cost? Are we constantly seeking to perfect our child and robbing them of the little pleasures and joys of life? 

My son hadn’t shown any interest in learning xylophone, he didn’t even know what he was holding or what it was called? But I was prepared to teach him the mere basics of holding it right and hitting the bars. Did it really matter to him?

We all keep correcting our children – “don’t talk like this, walk properly, behave well, hold the spoon right, draw within the outline, don’t spill the food, don’t get the dress dirty, comb your hair……..” An endless list of corrections as we believe that this will go a long way in making our kids become responsible adults. We all must have experienced this during our childhood, yet even as we have become adults our parents still continue to correct us. Don’t they?

To genuinely be a part of whatsoever they love doing: No matter how busy we are. But by participating and being a part of something that our kids love doing, we can enter their world and connect with them more strongly. But one condition – during this time with our child we don’t correct, advise, lecture or judge them. 

If a child loves swimming, we join them for swimming only to have fun. If a child loves reading, we read together or ask them to read out for us. If a child loves to play video games, we play together or cheer him/her while playing or be interested to learn the rules of the game.

Research has proven that spending such quality time with children has resulted in children throwing fewer tantrums, being more disciplined and being responsible. It has also helped create stronger ties between the parent and the child.

I realize that if all the children were to play in a structure by following a set of rules and guidelines, how could we have known about the becoming of Pablo Picasso, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and many more personalities who had dared to play by their heart and not by the framed rules or norms.

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A Parenting Perspective -Tired of Yelling, Nagging, Advising, Repeating?

How often do parents use a combination of scolding, advising, threatening, criticising, lecturing and even go the extent of thrashing their child, hoping and believing that this is one of the best methods to give children a piece of their mind.

I was young, probably in my 4th grade. My mum was working at a relatively closer distance, I deliberately lit a small piece of paper and sprayed perfume on it. The flame exacerbated, turning my mum’s attention towards me.

I was hoping she would feel proud that her son is experimenting with fire at such an early age. But I was surprised, my mum saw something much deeper than I was expecting.

She thought I was a fool and she struck a hard slap across those chubby cheeks of mine which immediately turned red.

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She was extremely furious and mad and she said, “Have you got any sense? Were you attempting to cause an arson? What if the carpet had caught fire? What if the fire would gulp the whole house with its flame?”. And the series of what if questions kept coming one after the other, intending to help me learn a lesson by making me feel bad, guilty, shameful and, embarrassed.

But all I wanted was to make my mum feel proud of seeing me play with fire and appreciate my curiosity regarding the small act of experiment. My whole intention failed and all I could create was an arson for my chubby little cheeks.

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Ouch..! They were really red and burning. I was seated at the corner of my bed and was sobbing hard, I think she must have heard it. She slowly walked into my room and started apologising and politely advising me. She would gently slip the consequences of what a fire could do and finally asked me –

“I hope you now understand what I was concerned about and promise me that you wouldn’t do something like this again”. I promised her and hugged her tight as she wiped those tears rolling down my cheek.

And only after a week or ten days, I was caught trying to burn plenty of newspapers. I had added lots of dry red chillies and salt into the fire. Just as I saw my mum charging toward me, I took a run for my life, shouting, “I saw the landlady burning these newspaper along with the salt and these red chillies. I just wanted to see what would happen”.

I ran out of the house to play cricket with my friends and vowed to return home only in the evening as her anger would subside. And hoping that she would understand me and forget what had happened.

And as I stepped into the house – BAAAM. Ouch! One hard slap again…Well, she hadn’t forgotten anything, I felt like a mouse trapped in a cage.

But my mum failed to understand that I was just a 10-year-old boy, exploring my curiosity and seeking attention and appreciation from my parents. Oh boy! Could I put my emotions, expectations and needs into words and share them with my parents?

Has any child ever been able to do that? Or, now that I’m a grown adult and if I were to give words to my emotions and expressions, I could have then said, “Mom, I feel lonely at home when no one is around. You and Dad are at the store all day until 10 p.m. I feel bored and I’d like to try new stuff and share it with you guys. Since we barely talk, I hear fewer words of appreciation and encouragement from you. I want you to know that I really care what you guys think about me”.

 

Research has proven that children express their emotions through behaviour. They can’t articulate and give words and share their feelings and emotion.

As parents, we believe that a piece of advice, lecture or scolding would help the child learn the lessons of life. If the child apologises, we believe he or she has learnt the lesson.

It would be great if you could pause and think about the perspective that I’m sharing below.

“Will acceptance of a mistake and an apology ensure that the child has learnt his lesson?

or

stepping into the shoes of a child and understanding his behaviour (modelling empathy), forgiving them even before they ask for it (displaying the power of forgiveness), and asking them about how they could have behaved or acted differently (helping build decision-making skills and encouraging curiosity) – would this process help the child learn valuable lessons of life?”

I believe you now get a hint of what I mean by the quote – “old ways, won’t open new doors”.

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So the next time when you find yourself telling –

  • “How many times do I have to remind you of…….”, instead can you say – “I know you find it hard to do, let me know if I can help you with it” (non-judgement and empathy)
  • “Don’t you dare talk to me like that”,  instead can you say – “I realize you are upset (acknowledge feelings), let me help you. (Listen) and ask questions, “Can you think of an alternate solution? If you have to do it all over again, how would you do it differently?” (encouraging decision making)
  • “No, you are not going out today”, instead ask yourself – ‘are you saying no just to exercise your power or do you have genuine reasons’. (know oneself) Can genuinely ask, “I have got a lot of work to do around, it would be great to have some help. Is there any possibility you can reschedule your plans?” (Respecting other’s emotions & modelling asking help)

If you are seeking to build stronger bonds with your children, infuse more energy and positivity in your family, you will have to open new doors of communication. If things change inside you, things will start to change around you.

So, let’s open new doors of communication with our children. New doors to endless possibilities and opportunities. New doors to encourage their curiosity. New doors to build higher self-esteem. New doors to nurture them in a manner where we raise them to become independent and responsible adults.

 

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30 Memories As I Turn 30.

I woke up to my wife’s beautiful smile on my birthday. But I didn’t greet her with the same big, warm smile. Stepping into the 30’s club all of a sudden seemed so awkward.

I knew the numbers would keep increasing as the years would pass, but the one thing that’s quick to advise but hard to follow and that’s ACCEPTANCE.

But as I share my anxiousness and fear of growing old, I’m given a few strong inspirations from my friends and family.

To look at the brighter side of life with more experiences in my bucket.

Age is just a number. Living life is a choice.

Thirty is NO dirty.

Retirement is coming soon.

I thank them all who cheered me up and wished me luck and blessed me with their love and affection. So I thought how do I make this 30 that’s making me feel old make me feel young?

I reminisced about my childhood days. Images after images kept scrolling in front of my eyes. Memories making me feel pumped again, memories of embarrassment, memories of school and college, memories with my lovely sister, memories of childhood pranks.

Oh boy! The list can keep going. And as I’m soaking in those memories in my ME time, I thought it would be great to pen a few best ones down to share the stories with my little son when he grows big.

  1. 4th grade – The first crush. Oh God, I still remember collecting every item that she would touch whilst we were doing a science project together and I had them stored in small boxes in a secret place for almost 4 years. And I finally threw them all away when I realized how silly I was being. Time to move on.
  2. 2nd grade – I was drawing a birthday card for my mother in the class, writing boldly – I LOVE YOU MOM. So a girl comes up to me and says, “I love the card, can you please make one for me”. I right away agreed and but then I realized she can’t be my mum, so what do I now. I replaced the MOM with her name only to be caught by the teacher and to be called upon by the principal to bring my parents the next day.
  3. Nursery – My mom dressed me in a grey suit for the school annual day program. As I was walking proudly on the road with my head held high and holding my mom’s hand. I missed seeing a small pothole filled with rainwater and thus, landing my face right into it.
  4. 8th grade – I was dared by a friend if I could copy using micro xerox chits during the exam. I wasn’t a guy to say no for an answer. I found a xerox shop very close to my house and my heart pounded while I gave him the book with the marked pages, fearing he might inform my parents. The greedy shopkeeper never informed but the thrill of copying using those chits lasted for almost a term.
  5. 8th grade – I walked into a new restaurant to get some idli’s packed for my sister. The restaurant was extremely busy and I asked a man standing close to the counter to pack me three idlis. He ignored and muttered something under his breath and I lost my cool and shouted at him. He punched me right on my nose to only let me know that he was also a customer waiting for his delivery just like me.
  6. 10th grade – I had safely placed a letter of my girlfriend between the pages of my Maths book to only find it missing when I reached school the next day. I began sweating, fearing that it would reach the hands of the teachers if I had misplaced it. With fear making me paranoid, I reached home and found my dad very polite, extremely unusual and I knew something was wrong until he pulled the letter out of his pocket and asked – WHAT IS THIS?
  7. 7th grade – I hated my parents for doing this. As they allowed me to independently ride a cycle on the road, they would always send a staff who would ride behind me to ensure my safety. I would explain to them that if I had to fall, I any which ways would. It’s not like he could be a superhero and come to my rescue from anywhere.
  8. 9th grade – The campus life in TVS Matriculation school especially the canteen moments. That’s when Pepsi had launched Blue Pepsi to celebrate the world cup tournament. Having veg Biryani every day at the canteen and digging it inside to find the big chunks of fried bread chunks.
  9. 4th grade – Summer swimming classes at Madurai Corporation. The 5 feet depth was manageable until the coach made it mandatory for everyone to learn swimming in 12 feet depth too. Initially, I would excuse myself and hide in the changing room only to be caught by the coach one fine day.
  10.  8th grade – Right opposite to the house where we lived for quite a long time, there were plenty of apartments (Meenakshi Apartments) and a big playground in the middle. We would play cricket all day long starting right after breakfast and finishing before it would get dark. A couple of families still recall the number of windows that we had smashed with our big hits.
  11. All through high school and college – As friends, we thoroughly enjoyed eating out and mostly junk. We would sneak outside the house with excuses to relish some good food and each other’s company. And do I have to say, we would have to again stuff ourselves with the food that our mum would prepare with so much care and love. Can’t dare to upset mum’s and make them sad! Can we?
  12. 12th grade – Winning the title of Mr.Losa and we couldn’t afford to celebrate it big. My parents were working and they couldn’t attend it. So to make up for that they still suggested we go to a restaurant nearby to have my favorite masala dosa.
  13. Childhood can be a little hard when both parents are working and are often stressed. Not blaming them but as a child, we just can’t see the bigger picture then as we can now as adults.
  14. 8th grade – I once collected all the waste newspapers, plastic bottles, and other waste materials lying around the house. Do you think I was cleaning? That’s what my granny thought. Instead, I brought them all to junkshop in exchange for money and later my sister and I enjoyed a good portion of fried rice and chili parotta.
  15. All throughout school time – We were blessed to have a mother who was always going an extra mile for us to ensure we eat healthy food and stay fit. We were studying in TVS school attending the morning shift. The classes would commence by as early as 7:40 a.m and the bus would arrive at the stop by 6:15 a.m. My mum would wake up by 4 a.m and we would every day wake up to the sound of the mixer going ggrrrrrrrr…
  16. All my life – As a brother and sister, we were more like partners in crime. Helping one another get through difficult situations and team up when our parents would attack any one of us. Making it more difficult for our parents to catch the rat. haha.
  17. Nursery School – I had peed in my pant and the elderly child care lady collected my pants for washing and I was waiting in the bathroom to collect it back. Children are curious and the world knows it, so I turned the right handle and the water flowed from the bottom tap and I was curious to turn it left and was left completely drenched from the shower above me.
  18. College – I must have watched the maximum number of movies on the screen in theatres during my college days. The afternoon lectures would make us feel drowsy after a heavy lunch.
  19. Humor and rumor always had a strong affinity for me. I could crack somebody up so hard that they would pee in their pants laughing and rumors making headlines that I would often be called to the principal’s office or receive thrashings back home.
  20. 7th grade – I had mastered certain skills of riding a bicycle. And the most important was riding free hand. I could even turn the cycle at the corner ends of the road, so I thought I should game up my skill. I pedaled fast and rode the cycle free hand over a bumpy pothole. Well, it landed perfectly fine, skidding on the road and peeling my skin off near the elbow, leaving the mudguard covered in blood and a big scar which I’m still proud of.
  21.  8th grade – I would get down from the bus at our store while returning back from school. That day as I happily walked in, my mum was attending a customer showing her lingerie – big padded brassiere. I had seen them for the first time and I quickly picked it up from the counter and innocently placed it on my eyes thinking it was meant to cover the eyes. Well, obviously it didn’t cover my eyes but a hard slap landed right across my cheek.
  22. College – I had never been away for a long time from my hometown (Madurai) in 18 years. And in order to get better exposure and be independent, I decided to do my Masters in London. One year of my life, managing studies and work, learning many new things was an experience of a lifetime. A toad gets to see the outer world only when he sticks his neck high out of the well. .
  23. College – I started preparing for one of the most competitive exams to get into IIM and that’s CAT. About 6-7  friends we all boarded the train, went to Chennai and sincerely I prayed that my paper should be evaluated by someone young and empathetic who knows how CAT is making lives miserable. And finally, on the day of the result, the screen flashed with 22 percentile. I still don’t know what this percentile is and how it’s calculated.
  24. 9th grade – It was during the Diwali season and as usual, the holidays were always well spent in supporting my parents at the store. But this year, I was high with 104F fever. What was great about it was that I went alone to the hospital, got myself admitted and then came back home. My parents thought I was very brave and I enjoyed every bit of appreciation and attention for a week.
  25. 12th grade – I was always good with studies until 10th board exams happened. With 60% marks, I was already being judged. My parents thought I was distracted, not making use of my full potential, so they changed my school thinking my life would change. Well, they thought my life changed, but for me, the subjects changed and that mattered and I scored 87%. I owe my teachers a big time for this accomplishment.
  26. 6th and 7th grade – Two consecutive summer holidays gone in the drain. The first summer holiday I was diagnosed by Jaundice and in the next year’s summer holidays, it was chickenpox’s turn. Oh God, the itching these chickens caused felt like I was attacked by millions of mosquitoes.
  27. Two of my best study friends with whom I have shared great study time. Badri during my school days in TVS and Abdul during my high school in Mahatma. With Badri, it was more of creative conversations and with Abdul it was pure rote learning, especially Economics.
  28. 3rd grade – I found my grand dad’s shaving kit in the bathroom and I decided to have a shave. I cut myself near the lips, on the cheeks and as I washed my face I started sweating out of fear to step out of the bathroom and show my face to my family. Upon enquiring, I informed my Dad that a boy in my class used a knife while we were fighting. I wasn’t expecting my Dad to come to school the next day and the poor boy was made to stand outside the classroom all day. Not something I’m proud of. But back then, I just wanted to save my ass.
  29. 29. They say change is inevitable. But I didn’t know my parents had taken it to my schooling. Having changed 6 schools in 12 years was fun back then, I was enthusiastic about going to a new class to meet new friends. And the best thing was I ensured that my parents also get to meet the principal of all the schools. haha.
  30. 30. 4th grade – This tops the list because the memory of it reminds me of who I am. Creative, curious, adventurous, determined, happy and hard working. I won 13 prizes in various competitions in a year. Also, the only moment of my school life my parents are proud of.

Ricky Schroder says with regret, “I spent my whole childhood wishing I were older and now I am spending my adulthood wishing I were younger”.

 

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Why Mindful Parenting Works?

The Cambridge dictionary explains the meaning of mindful as – deliberately aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment in order to create a feeling of calm.

The word mindful has recently been more in practice in a spiritual context and most importantly it’s widely used in therapeutic mental and physical well-being.

But does it work? Is being mindful as easy as it’s advised?

Now, think for a moment. You stepped into the house and you find your child playing his favorite FIFA game, and the conversation now is something like this:

Kids Screen Time

Mum – Close the game and go study for a while. What’s with this game all the time?

Son – I just started playing mum. It’s been only 20 minutes since I started playing.

Mum – Oh really? Let me ask your sister now. (To check on him).

Son – Don’t you believe me when I’m saying I just started playing now. Now, wait, even if she says I have been playing for more than an hour, I’m not going to shut this down. NO MATTER WHAT. (Son, feels trust issue and is hurt).

Mum – Don’t you dare talk to me like that. I’m going to pull the chord out and lock the game in my cupboard for a week until you learn how to speak and behave. (Mum feels that her son is misbehaving and threatens to use a consequence to display her power).

Do you see how the conversation started with a good intention of asking the son to study but it quickly transcended into trust issues and power struggle between the mother and the son?

Do you think being mindful of the communication or the situation could have had different positive outcomes?

Mindful practice helps a person be attentive and identify when the shift in communication is taking place. It allows the person to become aware of their thoughts and emotions. 

In the above instance, the mother could have paused for a second when the discussion was going off the track. and could have used a positive and constructive choice of words to ensure that her intention of the talk is met – which was to eventually teach her son the balance of play and study. To be a responsible child.

But the whole conversation exploded within minutes without either of them realizing or being aware of their emotions and unable to build the conversation with the intention they had in their mind.

Few Mindful Practices To Avoid Backtalk/ Aggression/ Tantrums:

Be Mindful of your own triggers: When you start being attentive to your emotions and thoughts, you start to realize your own triggers that put you off. This helps to avoid playing the blame game with people around you when you are in a state of stress or anxiousness.

Instead, you start moving inwards, reflecting upon your own problems and refrain yourself from venting unnecessary reactions.

Mindful Breathing For Instant Calm: This sounds silly. It did to me when someone first proposed the idea of deep breathing during instances of stress. How could someone think of deep breathing in the heat of the moment?

You could think of it otherwise. If you have the energy and the time to argue more, stress more or fight more, you might as well consider an alternate response to the situation. Just smile and concentrate on your breath. It’s easy and being conscious and in control of your reaction and response is a strength that very few possess.

Model The Behavior You Want: You can’t ask your children to do something that you don’t do it yourself. I remember an instance when a father asked his child to speak with the staff at a showroom with respect and in return, the son was quick to say, that’s how you talk with the staff in our company. The father replied back with a sharp glare.

I often hear parents advice, scold or threaten a child if they want to teach the child something. But parents fail to understand that, the basic and most essential tool of parenting which has been repeatedly mentioned in renowned parenting books, blogs, videos, research papers, etc is to – be an example. 

So model the behavior that you want your child to learn. If you want them to manage their aggression, their stress, to be responsible and to be confident. You need to show them how it’s done rather than verbally loading them with big lectures and advice sessions.

Apologize when you mess up. It’s ok – No one is perfect: Be quick to put your guns down when you know you are wrong. Again show the child that mistakes are inevitable.

No one is always right. That’s one of the most important lessons in life which you can gift your child.

Else your child will always have the pressure to remain right and good. Prepare the child to handle challenging situations in life by modeling positive and assertive behavior.

The above mindful practices will go a long way in shaping your child’s life and empower him to live a calm and joyful life. Isn’t this every parent’s first wish for their child?

Children playing in the garden on a swing

Mull over what you have read and if you think you can help someone who would benefit by reading this post, please share, because there is nothing more precious than gifting a child a childhood that matters

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The Story About The Eagle In Childhood Matters Logo

Everyone around us is making a sincere effort to make this world a better place for the upcoming generations to live. Organizing peace campaign, green campaign, equality campaign, health campaign and any other campaign that you can think of to create awareness for a better society and an environment.

Statistics, on the other hand, does not justify the massive scale of awareness campaigns that are being run. All the effort that we are taking for the newer generations is going down the drain.

Children today are stressed more than ever before, screen time has increased (T.V, computer, mobile or iPad), peer pressure to match the societal status, opportunity to play outdoors has reduced, early exposure to sex and most importantly most of the parents have participated in a selfish and most destructive competition of – My Child Is The Best.

As Dalile shares her brutally honest opinion that, During our insane worship to win the race, during our mad love to become number one, we forget that our society today are raising children that are racing to nowhere.

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The story below also explains the inspiration of the Logo – Childhoodmatters.

So how can we raise children today in a manner where we support and nurture them to grow mentally, physically, emotionally and socially strong?

I found the answer in the Eagle, whose parenting techniques are full of bravery and selfless love. So what is the Eagle doing so differently?

I. She disturbs– the eagle takes good care of her eggs. Once they are hatched, after few weeks she makes the nest a little uncomfortable for the hatching by removing the padding of the nest so the thorns disturb them.

If we need to make our children shift from dependence to independence, we need to be disturbing parents to prepare them to face the real world. We need to refrain ourselves from making their journey easier and empower and educate them to face obstacles.

II. She draws near– When the eagle disturbs the nest, she realizes that she also needs to assure her eaglets that she is there with them. She does this by fluttering her wings and getting close to them.

Similarly, parents need to understand that when our children are caught in the hustle of life and trapped in a whirlpool of stress, they might act or react in aggression or be disrespectful or be irritated.

Parents need to get closer to their children during such situations. Remember – Ignore the behavior but not the child. This helps children with lots of emotional support and trust and they eventually learn to manage their emotions from us.

III. She demonstratesAs the eagle makes her children feel secured when she disturbs them, she also spreads the wings to show them how it’s done. She demonstrates what she wants them to learn.

Every parenting book, philosophy, and speech lays strong emphasis on the first rule of parenting – BE AN EXAMPLE.

It’s rightly said that children learn from what they see and not from what they hear. There is no point in asking a child to stop doing something that you are doing.

IV. She develops themShe then raises high in the sky and tells her children that it’s now their turn to jump and fly and she shakes them off. That’s the way they will learn and develop their skills.

If parents are going to be making every decision, protecting their child every time, they are never going to learn. We need to shake them off and allow them to do things on their own. As parents, we have shown them how things need to be done and now they need to do it for themselves.

V. She’s there to deliver themAs she shakes them off, and the eaglets are falling and falling, the eagle scoops in and picks them up just before they hit the ground. Also, the eagle is there to feel proud when her eaglets have learned to fly.

She is always there for her children to support them only when they are going to crash until then she leaves the children to manage things on her own.

Parents likewise need to be there to deliver for their children by supporting them when they are about to crash and encouraging them when are flying high.

The Eagle’s approach of parenting in essential in today’s world where presents are more important than presence, where playing outdoor has become more expensive than playing indoors and where children are quickly being judged for their performance rather than being appreciated for their efforts.

This perspective of parenting that I have learned from a bird instills hope that if we give our children a childhood full of opportunities to nurture their curiosity, self-esteem, independence, and confidence, there will barely be any need to run those multi-million dollars worth of campaigns.

Kailash Satyarthi hits the bullseye by quoting, “Every single minute matters, every single child matters, every single childhood matters”.

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5 TedTalks That Will Help You Raise Successful Kids

“Why do I listen to TedTalks, especially on the subject of parenting?”, my wife asks me with curiosity.

And I say, “most of the speakers out there have experienced different things or have done things differently and their stories, research data, views, findings of their experiments, opinions, and thoughts, they are highly informative and inspiring.”

I strongly agree with what Leila Summers clearly shares, “sometimes the only reason for us to be somewhere else is to see things from a different perspective.”

And TedTalks is one of the many other platforms which I follow to learn, to get inspired and to build on my own existential ideas and thoughts.

I’m sharing my Top 5 favorite TedTalks on parenting:

 #1. When Do Kids Start To Care About Other People’s Opinions? | Sara Valencia Botto

 

This interesting TedTalk provides a deep understanding of why humans are the only species on the planet who are prone to change or tailor their behavior in the presence of others? And this catastrophic behavior starts as early as in an infant who does not even know to speak even one incomplete sentence.

Watch the video to know more about Sara Valencia and Dr.Philips – ‘The Robot Task Experiment’ which is highly insightful about how even as little as an infant, the presence of others has an impact on their behavior and watching those cute little babies play in the video is a delight. 

#2. One Dad’s Mission To Rebuild Bonds Between Kids And Their Fathers | Dwight Stitt

Dwight Stitt’s heartfelt talk is all about bonding with his son and sharing stories of a traumatic childhood and lessons learned from his father.

His passion has successfully led to a successful weekend canoeing campaign where Dwight supports fathers and children to spend quality time canoeing, playing, having meals together in the midst of nature and shares transforming experiences and insightful learnings.

#3. For Parents Happiness is a Very High Bar | Jennifer Senior

Jennifer eloquently expresses her views on how ‘parenting’ as a subject has evolved since the 1960s and the reason behind why this subject today is gaining more attention than ever before is astounding.

In this TedTalk, she offers some great advice and tips on what a modern middle-class family needs to focus rather than focusing on an elusive goal of – ‘raising happy children’.

#4. Nature is Everywhere. We Just Need to Learn to See it| Emma Marris

Emma Marris shares a completely new definition of Nature in this insightful TedTalk and also shares solutions on how can we change our relationship with nature in spite of living in modern, well-equipped urban spaces.

She also beautifully shares why as adults we should encourage our children to touch nature, play, and tinker with it. And she shares her powerful belief that – what remains untouched is unloved.

#5. To Raise Brave Girls, Encourage Adventure | Caroline Paul

Caroline Paul is all about bravery. In a world where parents are constantly scared of their children getting hurt especially girls, she believes that fear is not helping children, it’s hurting their confidence and affecting their decision-making abilities.

She goes on to share how as parents we unintentionally communicate to our kids that girls are fragile and boys are gutsy. She shares lots of stories and examples of how we can raise girls who grow up to become confident and brave.

 

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Building Stronger Ties With My Son

There is a famous saying, “you can learn many things from children. How much patience you have for instance” – Franklin P. Jones.

Little infants are cute when their gleaming big eyes are staring into ours.

They are cuter when they giggle and laugh even at the silliest of things like looking at a poster or flashing lights or whilst playing peek-a-boo.

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These tiny little souls are the cutest when they are asleep – innocence radiating from their face and watching them sleep peacefully brings a sense of peace in our mind and soul.

But just as how cute infants are, they can also be a nightmare – screeching, howling, crying and as parents, we are scratching our head, puzzled to figure out what’s wrong with them.

My son is just 5 months old and his wake up smile lits our day. But as much as he lights our lives, he also burns my sleep and patience. One moment he laughs hysterically and the next moment he is bawling.

And his sudden outburst of cry makes me want to hand him over immediately back to my wife or to someone next to me. An initial couple of months that’s exactly what I did until I was told by my friend that,

“When infants cry it’s a vital sign of their mental development because cry is the most important and only medium of their expression and communication in the beginning.

Just like how as adults we reach for water when we are thirsty, similarly infants cry as they search for what they need in the moment. As adults become calm when their thirst is quenched, so do babies.

And as parents or caretakers, the way we respond and manage their cry is critical in building their emotional development. Research proves that when parents/caregivers habitually respond to the infants needs, they are more likely to grow independent and emotionally strong.”

My wife and parents are doing a great job at playing with him and cajoling him, no matter how tired or stress they are. In contrast, my patience takes a back seat when he starts to cry out of the blue. My friend was building new perspectives for me and supporting me in my new journey of parenting.

I had never thought of cry in relation to emotional development. I was aware that infants cry when they are hungry, angry. bored, sleepy and in pain. And most of their cry is unexplained. Decoding the unexplained cry and handling it was being extremely challenging.

As my thoughts started to build on what my friend was just saying, he quickly distracted me by adding,

“Crying allows infants to build close relationships with those who most reliably respond to their needs. In this way, crying may be central in building an emotional bond or attachment of the infant with the parents or other caretakers.”

New thoughts started to emerge on how many opportunities I had missed as a dad in bonding with my son. Quickly passing him around had always seemed like the easiest thing to do.

Well, in parenting as a journey I believe one can’t always be right or be doing things right. It’s a journey of learning and growing together. And I’m greatly thankful to my friend in helping me open new doors of bonding with my son.

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Now when my son cries –

I take him out and together we watch the cars, buses, bikes, and autos moving on the road. 

I make weird sounds and wait until one of it would split his sides.

I throw him high in the air and he giggles cutely.

I talk to him about the day or what people are doing around him and he intently listens for a few seconds before resuming his cry and I have to quickly get back on my toes.

I scatter his favorite toys around him and he leaps onto them like a monkey and is quick to put things in his mouth.

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…… in spite of doing a bit of everything or just one particular thing, if he still cries. I know for sure that he is either hungry or sleepy and oh boy at the end of the day when I go to bed and he is nested comfortably between us, I feel so connected and happy.

The lesson gifted by my friend reminds me of the words of Joyce Meyer who beautifully describes patience as “Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we are waiting.” 

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Is Parenting A Skill To Be Learnt?

Every parent has their own journey and their own style of parenting.

No matter how good our intentions are, we will still make mistakes. The fact that those mistakes impact our children is a hard pill to swallow.

And when a parent slaps a child right across those soft cheeks and if I have to ask them, how do you feel hitting your own child? Their usual response always is – I FEEL AWFUL. I DON’T LIKE DOING THAT TO MY CHILD.

So, I ask – Then why did you hit them? And these are the few answers that all the parents often give –

  • If I don’t hit them today, how will they learn? How would they know that this behavior has to stop?
  • I didn’t mean to hit them, but they get so fussy and irritating that I eventually lose my temper.
  • They have to understand that the wrong behavior will have harsh consequences. The hard way of imparting life lessons.
  • I hit them so they are scared and think twice again before doing any such thing again.

Undeniably behind every parents behavior there is a good intention for the child.

And my question is – Is scolding or slapping really helping?

And there are parents who are supportive of their children in every way possible.

I know parents who take loans to ensure that their child studies in an English Medium School. Parents who work hard or already have all the luxuries to provide their children with every comfort and fulfill their demands believing and hoping that this would motivate their children to study, to be responsible, to be appreciative of the privileges, overall to be a good performing child. 

Even behind this behavior, there is a positive intention for the child. And that’s to give them all the support and motivation, so children stay focused on their performances.

In spite of giving them all the resources and support, are children still being irresponsible? Are they throwing more tantrums? Are they able to respect and acknowledge all that you are providing to them?

My question again to you is – Giving children all the support and fulfilling their wishes, is it working?

If the answer to both the questions is NO, then the question is how do we to raise children in a manner where they take responsibility for their own work, nurturing their self-esteem, supporting them in managing their emotions, encouraging them to talk and share everything.

There are different things that we could be trying:

  • Working from our own childhood experiences. Assuming that all that our parents failed to provide us or failed to understand our emotions are things that we would definitely support our children with.
  • Checking with friends and relatives with what they are doing in similar situations.
  • By reading parenting books and articles to build on existing knowledge.

Are the above trials working in real life? Are you able to resolve or manage when your kids act out, misbehave, disrespect or drive you to the brink of insanity disrupting your family happiness and values?

Parenting is definitely an experience that we are very sure and confident about. We have this strong belief that we know our kids better than anybody. But, parenting is less about what you know, it’s more about what the child needs. 

Unarguably we know what’s right and wrong in the world out there, we have more experience of life as adults but the question is how do we understand our children’s need and respect his feelings and also able to guide them in the right direction.

From the list above I would also recommend seeking support from a coach, counselor or therapist to understand the certain research-based techniques which help open up channels of communication to connect with children.

And to be able to support them in a manner where we start experiencing parenting from the same state of connection that we once had when we held our child in our arms for the first time.

The experience of parenting is similar to how a battery functions. The power of the battery would decrease, at times drain but constantly charging is the key to well functioning.

Likewise, in a family, in relationships especially parenting, there could be unpleasant experiences, at times more exhausting and draining experiences but often taking small periods of time to recharge at frequent intervals leaves our battery less likely to die (lose all energy).

The small periods of recharge are the skills, tools, and techniques that we equip ourselves with to build new perspectives & self-skills to connect with our children.

Changing the way as parents we talk and listen to our children, responding and reacting to their emotions – this kind of recharge at frequent intervals will help you experience greater power and a sense of satisfaction in truly building a home that you always dreamt of.

 

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Eating More From The Earth

In February 2017 whilst backpacking in Thailand is when we (I and my wife, Deepika) met this wonderful and inspiring couple who are raw vegans for over 15 years.

We were staying in a hostel and for two consecutive days while having breakfast, we observed this couple eating one full watermelon each.

They had cut the watermelon in two halves and were scooping it with a spoon. On, the second day, I couldn’t resist myself and so we walked over to them and politely asked, “what’s up with the watermelons? We have been watching you eat only this for your breakfast.”

And hence started a conversation for more than an hour listening to stories of healing, the impact of cooked food, life without medicines, the body has the power to heal itself…

We were completely immersed in the conversation and when it ended, we were pumped, inspired and overwhelmed with lots of new information which made complete sense to both of us.

But the habit of eating healthy has never been an easy road. Disciplining the tongue is a challenging task as it can be easily tempted by the two strong senses of our body – taste and smell. 

We returned back home and slowly started to eat more raw food but it lasted for a shorter duration like the shelf life of a banana.

Our two strong senses (taste & smell) were hell-bent in distracting us from the new goal and we eventually surrendered to the temptations and cravings. But the conversation, it’s meaning, the impact, the transformation, all these were still lingering in our minds and at times we would take some conscious effort to choose what we eat but we were failing to build it as a healthy habit in our daily lifestyle.

Deepika would still choose healthier options while eating and I sucked bad time in changing my habit until recently four months back (March 2019) we had our first baby. And I decided to change my eating lifestyle understanding that we as parents are the bigger role models for our children.

Since 6th June 2019, it’s been over two months now that I have been eating only raw fruits and vegetables for my breakfast and now I have started to realize that I can’t control everything in my life, but I can control what I put in my body.

The journey so far is great. And most importantly it’s the way I feel while eating a fruit or a vegetable. Raw food is far more satisfying and satiating than eating junk or cooked food. I can sense the feeling while I place the food on my tongue and raw food always feel more relaxing and soothing for my body. 

If you want to understand what I’m trying to share above, you can feel it for yourself by being mindful and present of how you feel and the way your body reacts immediately after you consume your favorite fruit and while eating your favorite junk.

So to take my journey one step closer and to experience and understand what transformations and beautiful changes will take place, I have decided to completely move from cooked to uncooked and from mother’s prepared dishes to mother nature’s variety of choices. 

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Cheers Son! – Too early is it?

YOU ARE MY I LOVE YOU

I am your parent, you are my child,

I am your quiet place, you are my wild.

I am your calm face, you are my giggle.

I am your wait, you are my wiggle,

I am your finish line, you are my race.

I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace.

I am your lullaby, you are my peekaboo.

I am your goodnight kiss,

You are my I Love You.

– Maryann K. Cusimano

There many poems, quotes and stories describing the beauty of the relationship between a child and a parent. But I couldn’t feel the words until I recently experienced similar emotions. And though my son is only two and a half months old, for the first time I felt a connection as strong as a current

My son held my fingers tightly, I was moved. It was for the first time I had experienced those tiny little fingers holding my index finger.

My son holding my fingers
Pic Courtesy – Deepika Jain

I sensed as though he was wanting to create a strong connection. And I felt a sudden surge in my emotions and the tears of love swelled up my eyes.

It was a feeling of intense love. And I bent over to whisper in his ears, “I love you, my dear son.”

I looked at him with pride and he was looking back at me with his big gleaming eyes as if he understood what I had just said and was waiting to hear more. So I said to him,

You are one amongst the rest of millions of other babies in the world, son. And I want to help you realize that it’s completely okay to be a part of the crowd. You don’t have to have the pressure of becoming an icon or be financially successful or the pressure of standing out. But I want you to live life happily and positively. Living life with happiness is a rare gift that only a few have mastered and received and only a few can inspire, teach and share the wisdom. 

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Pic Courtesy – Deepika Jain

I promise son, that I will guide and support you but eventually you will have to make your own decisions. You will be responsible for your life and I want you to sculpt it the way your heart and soul guides you.

Your mother and I had promised that we allow you to see the world with your own eyes rather than adjusting your lens every time so as you only see what we can see. We promised that we would love you in a way that sets you free rather than caging you with our expectations. 

We promised that we would not mount any pressure of full filling our expectations or make you feel guilty about it. We decided to have you and to take complete responsibility for you. A decision that you weren’t aware of, else you might have negotiated. Wouldn’t you, lil champ?

Just as I was talking, he let out long vowel sounds like “oo” ee” “aa” and frantically started to throw his legs in the air. I don’t know if he even understood a word of what I said, but his reaction seemed like he thoroughly enjoyed the talk.

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Isn’t My Son Just Like Me?

We were all standing, anxiously waiting for almost five hours to hear the good news. Restlessly walking up and down the corridor of the hospital, at times pressing our ears to the doors of the labor room, expecting to hear the cry of the little angel.

And after five hours of impatience at 2:14 a.m, the nurse finally walked out of the room with an announcement, “It’s a baby boy”.

Baby Photography

 

It was for about 3-5 minutes that she allowed us to hold him before taking him back into the labor room. And immediately after she left, the comparison notes started.

– His ears and toes are big like his grandfather.

– His face resembles his uncle.

– No No, he looks more like his mom.

– His grandmother had the same big eyes.

And I was standing there, hoping someone would say that, “he looks like his dad”. I was a little angry, jealous and surprised thinking how could my own production not have even one similarity of his dad.

It’s a proud moment for most of the parents to find any similar physical or behavioral attributes in their child. And finally, after a few days, my wife said, “He sleeps just like you, like a log”. And the moment she compared him with me, I lit up, feeling more proud of both of us.

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I think wives usually enjoy breaking the joyous moments of their husband’s and so my wife quickly adds, “When he would grow a little older, he will start to express himself better. His originality would start to appear. He would like to taste his own freedom. And there would be a difference in opinions.

So are you ready to accept the differences as much as the similarities? Would you still be as proud and happy of him as he grows?”

I was in the mood to just enjoy and play and wasn’t expecting my wife to throw such serious questions at me, but the question did get me thinking.

And when I went to bed that night I kissed my little boy and my wife and whispered in her ears, “By the way did I tell you, his lips are just as perfect as yours”.

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Parenting – The New School Grandfather

Once a small chubby baby had now grown into a sweet little three-year-old girl, Dia. As she grew there was this one thing that she couldn’t let go of, a habit that’s a nightmare for many early parents.

Dia wasn’t ready to let go of her feeding bottle and start using glasses instead.

Her parents were trying tooth and nail to inculcate the habit of drinking milk or water in a glass but all their efforts went in vain. Until one summer vacation, her grandfather had come to visit her.

On the third day of his visit, while watching cricket in the living room, he all of a sudden heard her daughter-in-law irritatingly convincing Dia to hold a glass of milk and to drink from it. He realized what was happening and thought of a trick to help both his grand-daughter and her daughter-in-law from the everyday drama.

He gently smiled, slowly got up from the sofa and slipped into the kitchen. He picked up Dia’s feeding bottle and dropped it on the floor and it broke.

He walked into the room, holding the broken pieces of feeding bottle and politely requested her grand-daughter saying, “Beta, while bringing this bottle to you, it slipped from my hand and it broke. Can you please manage to drink your milk in the glass today? Your grandfather is extremely sorry. I promise to buy you another bottle tomorrow”

For Dia her grand-dad meant the whole world to him. She wouldn’t dream of being upset or furious with him, because who else would buy her tons of chocolates and toys. So she readily accepted the glass and drank the milk.

As promised, the next day the grandfather went to the supermarket to buy the feeding bottle but instead of one, he bought four.

And for the next four days, he would daily show Dia a new feeding bottle and then pretend that it slipped from his hands and broke. He would again request her to drink the milk in the glass and promise to buy another the next day.

Until the fifth day, surprisingly Dia made no fuss about the bottle but instead just sipped the milk from her glass.

Her mother was shocked and amazed as she was expecting her daughter to throw tantrums and was prepared with all the tools, techniques and words to frighten her to adapt to the changes in habit with age.

But she was at a loss for words on seeing her daughter happily drinking the milk from her glass. But she knew how the magic worked. And the magician was none other than Dia’s favorite and loving grandfather.

She thanked her father-in-law for teaching her to combat challenging situations with a different approach so that she can now practice teaching her daughter in a fun way rather than using the old school principles of scolding, frightening, thrashing and punishing.

 

 

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Only Those Who Have Lost Can Tell – Thoughts at a Funeral

I am not sure if God decides the birth and death of a person. And there is no proof so as to prove who decides the fate of a being. But every time when someone passes away, God is accused, criticized and questioned. And it’s OK to ask answers from the one whom you trust and have complete faith in.

So, as I walk into the room, running my eyes around, trying to spot the nearest and dearest ones of the young man who died from a heart attack. I notice a breathless elderly woman resting her head on the coffin with her eyes red and dry. She must have cried her heart out and looked tired and pale.

Standing in the room looking at the stationary body covered in a white shirt and veshti with a glittering gold bracelet in his hand, I’m wondering, “Oh man where are you now? I know you are lying here but where have you gone? It’s your mother crying profusely in pain. Have you already begun a new life, a new family and a new journey?”

My thoughts were distracted by a sudden outburst of cry as few other relatives of her had arrived to console her but her pain and complaint only multiplied.

“Oh Lord Krishna, for all that devotion and prayers we sung in praise of you, is this how you reward your loyal ones? Did you not have any mercy in taking away my son while I’m still alive? What wrong did I do to receive a punishment so severe and merciless?”

More than the grief of the death it was the state of a mother that I had seen for the first time. My heart wrenched and ached, watching the mother shift from various expressions of deep pain and sorrow.

The instinct to protect one’s own child is a strong intention of every mother across all species. And to experience the death of our children whilst we are still alive seems like breaking the natural order.

I could feel the suffering of the mother so strongly that’s because I’m going to be a father soon. And the thought and image of me standing at the coffin of my own child would be a cross to bear.

I know there is nothing anyone can do to help her except for a few comforting and consoling words. Because the pain and agony that she is going through is her own emotional journey which can never be experienced the same way by another.

And so the best I could do while standing there was pray for the departed soul and pray to Lord Krishna to give her more courage and strength to deal with the situation more spiritually.

Lao Tzu shared a thought-provoking quote which works miraculously and holds intense healing power if we understand the depth in his words, “Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.”

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You Are Beautiful. Please Don’t Say It To Anyone

Veera was a chirpy talkative girl. And she would often talk alone, answering her own questions about life, relationships, rituals, and her strong affinity with nature.

She would talk to strangers on the bus, sharing her dream of living on a top of a mountain in a small mud house.

Her friend was once surprised to see her talking to nature, appreciating its beauty and admiring with curiosity so as to how every species work in cohesion without any pride, ego or greed, unlike humans.

She could talk to anyone endlessly except with her parents. Every time she would try to share her feelings or dreams, they would often give her the same advice which did nothing but stop Veera from talking to her parents. And the advice would be, “Be sensible. You can’t always talk your heart out without thinking twice.”

And one weekend Veera was traveling to the mountains with a group of friendly strangers whom she had met on the bus.

It was the conspiration of the universe to help Veera meet those friendly strangers to comfort her to bring out the skeleton in her closet. 

A story that no one knew except for her mother and the best her mother could do was silence her. And that evening sitting on the rock alongside the river stream with her new friends, Veera wanted the hurtful past to flow like the water and she couldn’t hold herself from sharing the blemish past.

The skeleton in the closet.

Veera enjoyed and loved the company of her uncle, Manoj. He would play with Veera like a child, buy her chocolates and make her sit on his lap and tell her lots of beautiful stories. She always waited for him to visit her because no one was giving Veera the kind of love, care, and attention that she was generously getting from her uncle. 

Until one fine day, Veera was, as usual, sitting on her uncle’s lap when she felt something strange. The touch of her uncle on her arms and back sent a shiver down her spine. He sensed her discomfort and to calm her he immediately added, “you are my beautiful little doll and uncle will buy you more sweet chocolates and also the Barbie doll that you were asking for”.

Children are always taught and constantly reminded to learn to respect elders at home. To never argue or talk back. It’s often practiced with such great strictness that if a child ever disrespects he is severely punished and criticized.

It was this fear of Veera that encouraged his uncle to continue this sordid act of shame and disgust. He would take Veera into the bathroom, keep running the water and make love.

The poor little girl would scream in pain, her head spinning with fear of informing her parents or not understanding what was happening to her and scared to see herself bleed.

Veera was still very young and innocent to understand the physiology of her body and the changes taking place.

Manoj would heartlessly place his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming and to obstruct the sound of her scream from being heard.

The more silent she remained the more abuse Manoj would do. And after every act, he would comfort her by saying, “My princess! My doll. ! You are the most beautiful girl in this world. Uncle will bring you more chocolates and gifts next time. Please don’t tell it to anyone”.

It took immense courage for Veera to share her experience with her new friends who at the moment seemed to her like her family.

Just as she finished sharing her story her friends, they gave her power by sharing Alex Elle’s words – “You are not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.”

Child sexual Abuse eye-opening facts.

  • 90% of the children know the perpetrators, which makes it more difficult and traumatic for them. It’s usually someone within the family.
  • Boys are just as susceptible to sexual abuse as girls, if not more.
  • Of children who are sexually abused 20% are abused before the age of 8.
  • Child sexual abuse negatively and permanently affects the physical development of the child.
  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.

(Source: savethechildren.in)

I feel empowered to be able to write for a cause as the percentage of victims of child sexual abuse is on high rise and concerning the developmental impact, it has on the children.

In order to educate and bring more awareness to child sexual abuse I had an opportunity to attend an impactful and insightful campaign called ‘Aao baat karein‘ (Let’s start talking) successfully run by Parwarish, Delhi.

The aim of the campaign is to empower and eradicate child sexual abuse. In the last 10 months, they have successfully been able to conduct programs with 44000+ children empowering and educating them on the topic. 

If the story and the cause have melted your heart and you want to join and be a part of the campaign, you can do any one of the following:

  1. Provide Parwarish permission to conduct the ‘Aao baat karein’ program in your schools/institutions/communities.
  2. Contribute monetarily. Any Amount, the cost is Rs.50 per child. You can contribute on the link shared – https://letzchange.org/projects/aao-baat-karein-eradication-of-child-sexual-abuse-100000-children
  3. Connect Parwarish with donors/corporates.
  4. Share the message to create awareness and to have more people join in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Beware – You Are Being Watched By Your Children

If you want your children to grow into responsible beings and live life happily. A simple practice would take you closer to the values that you want to see in them.

And the below two different situations are strong anecdotes of today’s stressful living where connections between the parent and the child are fragile and often disoriented.

Story-1.

Meena was sharing her worries with her friend saying, “I’m so concerned that my son is always playing on the mobile or watching television whenever he finds free time”.

Her friend, Sharmila asked, “Then how do you think he should be utilizing his time?”

Meena – “I think he should go out to play with his friends, you know, he doesn’t even help us at home with any errands. He could also study or finish his homework, but nah, all day he is just either busy with the TV or with his mobile.”

Sharmila – “Your worry seems so reasonable. I’m sure everything will fall in place. By the way, what will you be doing tomorrow after finishing your household chores?”

Meena – “I usually watch my favorite TV shows or call my family and talk to them. But why, have you got any plans?”

Sharmila’s lips spread in a sly smile and she replied, “I was thinking if I could bring my son over to your place tomorrow to play.

But Meena do you think it’s fair that we watch TV and use mobiles to keep scorlling our FB or whatsapp during lesiure time and it’s unfair when our children do the same?”

Meena was quick to get the message that her friend was hinting at and realized that if she wanted her child to be more responsible for using the free time, then she will have to be an example of how to use time productively.

You can also involve your kids in daily activities like hanging wet clothes after wash, pick up toys and books, grocery shopping, cleaning a section of the house etc, to ensure that both of you make constructive use of time.

In addition, you could play games together, or spend time sharing each other’s goals and the list depends on how long and creative you want to make it.

But it’s important for parents to realize that children mostly learn things by watching them and not by listening to them.

And so if there is something that you are doing and want your kids not to do, the first thing to do is to stop advising them and the second thing is, to change yourself – be an example. 


Story-2.

Karthik’s 6-year old son, Arun and his 3-year old sister, Priya were playing in the room. Karthik was walking into the room to meet his children after a long tiring day at work. It was then that he heard it.

As Karthik approached the room he heard Arun’s voice shoot with immense displeasure, “What’s wrong with you Priya, how many times do I have to tell you that you are stacking the rings wrong. Anyone with a brain will know how to do it, can’t you ever do anything right?”

Along with unkind words, it was also the condescending tone that bothered Karthik. And he was sure that he wouldn’t accept such behavior and let his son get away with it.

So he stepped into the room and sternly said, “Arun, this is the last time I’m hearing you talk to your sister or to anybody like that. Hope you understand.”

Without even looking up at his dad Arun retorted, “Why shouldn’t I dad, you also always talk to mama like that”.

All Karthik could do now was stand there in disbelief to what he had just heard from his six-year-old son.

Kids often serve as an honest mirror reflecting the action and attitude of the adults in the house. And parents easily complain that their children are short-tempered, rude and disrespectful without realizing that they are constantly absorbing the behavior and attitude by witnessing their parents at home or people outside their world.

Before you criticize your child for unacceptable behavior, it’s important to find out where did he absorb it from.  

In the above case, Karthik now started fearing that his kids were witnessing everything including the interactions between him and his wife.

So the couple decided to be more careful and conscious of their behavior and interaction so as to be a good example of the values that they wanted to give them.


You need to mull over the following questions to be able to ascertain the reason for your child’s unruly behavior.

Has he been short-tempered since he was a toddler? Is anyone in the family able to display composure and stay calm during bad and tough times? When you want him to spend time with you are you able to discuss or talk about things that your child is interested in? Do you stay cool when your stressed or when things go out of control?

If the answer to all of the above questions is NO. I believe you are now able to understand what I’m hinting at. 

Your child comes into this beautiful world like a blank slate and that everything that the child would become is because of the effects of the environment.

So, if you want your child to absorb generosity, love, care, forgiveness, respect, and humility then you will have to be the medium for them to learn those values from you.

Rober Fulghum has hit the bullseye by saying, “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you”.

 

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How To Get Your Child Listen To You

Do you often find your kid not obeying to your words? For as simple a task like – “Go keep the shoes at the right place”  and his immediate response would be, “Not, now. I will do it later” or he might just not pay heed to what you just said.

You think he is getting lazy or that his behavior has changed. And that he is becoming more stubborn and arrogant as he is growing.

I will be sharing with you a very practical and tested trick that will help you make your kids listen to you.

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I realize it could be very difficult to accept such behavior from your child as you are trying to instill in him the right values and he is not ready to co-operate with you.

‘If I may remind you of how, when you were a child you wanted to experience freedom right from a very young age to be able to grow big soon and to make your own decisions.’

Similarly, when kids are growing they want to experience freedom with their decisions or in their actions. So, if you instruct your child to do something, they will immediately act repulsive and say NO.

Are you are helpless and anxious about this revolting behavior?

Do you feel angry and retort by raising your voice, scolding or punishing them?

It could be surprising that children as little as a 3-5-year-old can also be very rebellious at such a young age. I was surprised and shocked when my 3-year old niece retaliated to my polite request of picking up her own plate after breakfast and leaving it in the sink.

But then, I paused for a while, asked her to sit beside me and I used the secret approach in making kids oblige to our requests.

I reframed my request in a question with CHOICES.

I asked her now, “Okay, Diya. I’m going to be carrying the pickle jar and the plates. I will need your help, would you like to carry the jar, the plates, the spoon or the glasses?”

Dr.Claudia strongly suggests that “giving children choices helps them feel like they have some power and control over what they do, and is a step in growing up”.

For example, if you ask your child to study, their immediate response would be NO.

Instead, if you give them options like, “would you like to do your homework now or let’s start preparing a bit of your project together for the science exhibition next week”.

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A good way to start giving children choices is by selecting two or three things and allow them to make their own choices.

  • Would you like to have upma or idli-sambhar for breakfast?
  • Would you like to use crayons or paint today?
  • Do you want to help me clean the shoe stand or shall we clean the cobwebs?

Do you get an essence of why this trick can be so effective? That’s because it’s a win-win situation for both of you. 

You give options to your child that you are okay with and your child is choosing the option that he is okay with. Thus, leaving you and the child in a happy and desired space.

Featured

Top 5 New Year Resolutions for Parents

As the new year approaches, there is a promising zeal and hope that the next year would be more positive, beautiful and a belief that you will get one step closer to turning your dreams into actions. 

As parent’s, managing both work and family could be an arduous task. And no matter how hard you work in making your kids or family happy, you are often hurt seeing that your efforts are still unable to create the magic, instill the values and strengthen the bond between you and your kids.

Here’s a list of top five resolutions for the year 2019 to get one step closer to your kids to connect more strongly than before.

Avoid using the word Don’t- This one word could be highly destructive and negative to be used with children. It stops their creativity and instills a sense of fear and self-doubt. You can try reducing the use of the word “don’t” in your communication.

Instead of saying “Don’t talk to me like that. You better be respectful”. You can rephrase it to “I’ll listen to you as soon as your voice is as calm and quiet as mine”.

Unplug More – You have already had an exhausting day at work and the reason you look forward to getting back home is to spend a happy time with your family.

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So, put down your cell phone, iPad, T.V remote, laptop or any other gadget that distracts you from spending time with your family.

And practice involving everyone in cleaning up, chatting, preparing dinner together, setting the table, playing board games, sharing learnings and success of the day, etc. So, as they grow old they will have more family memories to cherish.

Be an epitome of LOVE – As spouses, you are together working as a team in raising your kids. You might be giving in most of your time spending time with them in order to be a super mom-dad.

couple-enjoyment-fun-984920

Ensure that you save some time for your ‘wonderful husband’ or ‘beautiful wife so that your children also learn in real life the values of love, compassion, care, gratitude, and forgiveness.

Providing kids with an example of a healthy and happy marriage will hopefully help them feel more happy, confident and secure. 

Share chores – Having to do all the chores at home on your own could be very tiring and could create more stress. Create a system where the chores are assigned to every member of the family.

family-doing-chores

You will be surprised to know that kids enjoy responsibilities but only when it’s given to them with trust, freedom and no judgment whatsoever.

You can discuss with your kids or give them options so they can choose the task that they would enjoy doing. This would instill a sense of responsibility from a very young age and an opportunity for the family to share the workload and to be able to create their own family time. 

Less cleaning – As a mom, you feel it’s your sole responsibility to keep the house clean. And it’s not helping you anyway to find time for your husband or kids.

You could try practicing the earlier point suggested so that you get more time playing with your kids and less time cleaning.

It’s important to realize that when kids grow big they will not remember how tidy their house was, they will remember more of the time spent by their parents playing with them. 

Wishing every parent and readers a very Joyous 2019.