5-tips to help kids overcome academic pressure

kids          Have been following the news about a missing kid in Bangalore. Social media was flooded with her photo in school dress. The 13 year old daughter of a software professional apparently went missing due to academic pressure http://www.bangaloremirror.com/bangalore/others/13-year-old-dropped-at-school-missing/articleshow/53891216.cms . She was worried about her poor performance in chemistry. She was bothered about the discipline at home, and also of the school. She packed a pair of extra dress on the context of a play at school. She boarded a train from Bangalore city railway station,and left for her unknown journey. She was traced almost after 100 hrs. from a railway station located at the north of Bangalore. She traveled 400 km all alone! In this era of unsafe surroundings, its a relief to learn that the kid was found safe. On the other hand, a question arises for parents!!! What should one do to equip kids with life skills to handle such challenges?

          Now-a-days, even the preschools conduct safety sessions for kids. They are made aware about safe touches, abuse, and strangers. Compared to days when I was a kid, parents now support kids a lot more in their career choices. Recently, one of my friend gave freedom to her son to take a break after PreUniversity. He wanted to explore different career options before officially enrolling for one. I know of many youngsters who worked for 2-3 years. Then they took break from career, and are into bootstrapping to establish their own start-ups. From the safety of government jobs, many youngsters are now exploring varied career options. I know of a music school where all the teachers are well educated to pursue professional career. But they decided to devote their time for the passion of music. The society has changed big time. From doctors and engineers, there’s a shift towards a career that one is passionate about. And many parents are supportive in this endeavor.

          Out of curiosity, I typed the key words in google “kid runs away from home due to bad score”. Guess what I got as my first search item ” http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi/about-70-runaway-kids-leave-home-fearing-parents-over-bad-marks-delhi-cops/story-boUOXRjPv72LOpf95irJmM.html  The article was published on August 1st’2016. It mentions that 70% of the run away kids with bad academic performance feared parents! It gave examples of two brothers. They were scared, disillusioned. Fearing they would be thrashed for scoring less marks in their exams, these two brothers from Bhoj in Amethi decided to leave home. They went to the railway station and boarded a train to the city they always dreamt of visiting — New Delhi. Reality, however, was harsher. For two days, with no money in their pockets and nowhere to go, the boys — Mohammad Ashif (15) and Mohammad Shoid (16), students of class 9 and 10 at Amity International School, wandered the streets of the not so dreamy city and slept on the roadside. As they reached the high security VVIP area of Chanakyapuri, they were spotted by constable Ved Prakash who was patrolling the area. They were lucky to be finally united with parents.

          Who is to blame then? The surroundings at home, the school, or the kid? As a mother, and a Professor of a medical school, let me share my own experiences. My 11 year old often forgets her weekly task of emptying her room trash-bin. At times, I feel very irritated. She says “Meem, I do not mind the work but I forget. So please remind me!” My postgraduates also say the same. “Get better when you pull us madam”. The bottom line is that we must pull kids, but must not loose our temper. Institute always wants good result to maintain their own name and fame. And cannot blame them for this.

In this scenario, I thought of 5-tips to help kids overcome academic pressure:

         1. Spend ample time with Kids: Earlier kids had the luxury of spending time in a joint family. They had grandparents, cousins, aunt and uncles to share their thoughts                  with. With the urbanization, more families are nuclear now. Also, with both working parents Kids get to spend very little time with them. Thus, it is very important for parents          to spend ample time with them, talk about their day, their concerns, and achievements.

         2. Consider kids as young friends: Friends in need are friends indeed. Consider kids as your young friends. Get involved in age appropriate discussions. The only idea is            to make them feel safe at home in a friendly way.

        3. Understand your kids strengths and weaknesses: As parent, one need not be too ambitious. One need not force their dreams on to the kids. Parents should provide a           safe, positive environment. They should pick up the strengths of their children and be facilitators. Monitor every steps of your kids, guide them, but do not force them into                   something that they are not interested in.

        4. Do not compare with other kids: Every kid is born gifted. Every kid is unique in his/her own way. Parents must provide an essential life skill to kids that they should                learn to become better than their past self. And that is the real road map to success.

        5. Encourage them to take time out for self care: Health is the main wealth. Parents must encourage kids to follow healthy life style, and to think positive. They must                 teach them lessons on grit, empathy, perseverance. They must encourage kids to take time out and talk to themselves about how to become better in life.

          I believe the best way to make kids perform well in whatever they are good at is to let them develop their own autonomous skills. They learn to take baby steps, and then to be independent in their daily activities. Parents only facilitate such learning. Like wise, it should come from within them that they need to persevere, set goals to excel for a better life ahead. Parents let’s listen to our kids, discuss their concerns, and facilitate their journey called “Life”.

5-benefits of having pets

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Kids love their pets. I guess babies feel they are stuffed toys that can move, toddlers play with them just as a friend. And with time, kids learn consider pets as their family. A family member with whom they can spend some quality time.

As a kid, I had fishes, ducks, and goats as pets. We had ponds at our ancestral home. Once a week, the fishermen used to come to clean the weeds, and to catch fishes. I and my cousins used to stand at the bank with empty bottles. The fishermen used to gift us small colored fishes to keep as pets. The bottle with two or three fishes used to decorate our living room. I remember providing food twice to them, and cleaning the bottle twice a week with the help of my dad. I used to squeeze some puffed rice, and serve as food to my dear pets! We had a duck house close to one of the ponds. As a kid, I used to love directing them towards the water in the morning. Then along with my cousins used to collect the eggs. Sometimes, we used to collect small snails for the ducks. In the evening, we used to call them home. My dad had got two goats home when I was very young. He wanted me to have goat’s milk. It seems goat’s milk is more easily digested and less allergenic than cow’s milk. It seems I used to love them a lot. Other than these pets, stray cats and dogs were frequent visitors to the house during meal times.

Today, I had a discussion with my colleague regarding pets. Her neighbor is an old lady. She lives alone with her pet dog. I somehow got reminded of my friends dog ”Bruno” who passed away last month. Bruno and the memories of my childhood pets led me to think about 5-benefits of having pets!

1. Companionship: Pet provide constant companionship through the ups and downs. They help relieve stress. Between studies, I used to look at my fishes at mid-night.  The thought that there was life around was an inspiration for me to stay awake for my exam preparations.
2. Responsibility: Kids learn empathy and compassion by caring for their pet. They also develop self esteem, and a sense of well being. I used to feel good to see my pets eating the food that I used to provide.
3. Learning: Caring for pets provides an active way of learning about their lifestyle. One learns to respect all living beings.
4. Health benefits: Children who grow up in homes with pets have less risk of developing common allergies and asthma. Studies shows that kids who had a dog during the first year of their life had higher immune response. And had fewer respiratory tract infections than those without.  Pets also help in various aspects of emotional development in kids. They encourage kids for outdoor play.
5. Deal with a loss: Pets teach that life is short, but precious.  Pets can teach kids how to deal with personal loss. I remember I was sad for many days when my first fish failed to breathe.  I had stopped feeding the other fishes too. But then my mom told me not to deprive the living ones from my love and care. Pets, thus help a kid to deal with the loss of a near and dear one, to move on in life.

Growing up with pets can enrich the lives of kids in so many ways.  They help develop social skills, and provide social and emotional well being. A time spent with them is never wasted!

 

 

5 tips to ignite your little genius

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No kid is unsmart. Every kid’s a genius at something. Our job is to find it and then encourage it” – Robin Sharma

I wholeheartedly support this quote.  I believe kids are genius in one or the other thing. I have observed that a few kids are good at painting, coloring, drawing and a few are excellent in dancing, singing, sports, and  other extra curricular activities.  Also, a few kids perform very well in academics. Thus every kid is a genius at something.

Most of us parents focus largely on the academics. But, the success of our kids is not only in getting good class scores. The real success is in following one’s passion, following what one loves to do. Take the case of Robin Sharma. He was born to a family of education minded parents. He first studied biology, and romantic poetry as a minor subject. He then graduated as a lawyer.  While practicing law, he discovered his passion for inspirational writing. He mentioned “Every moment I’m sitting in this law office, it’s a moment I’m away from my dream.’”… his quest  lead him become a successful internationally acclaimed leadership expert. Trust his parents never dreamt of such a career for Robin Sharma!

Thus,  we parents must try to “give birth to the joy” that is within our kids. We must not compare kids with their friends.  Comparisons  demotivates kids. We must boost our kids confidence level,  motivate and support them towards their path of  success. Here are a few tips to ensure your little genius makes it big in life.

1. Learning through activities at home:  Involve your kid in household activities. Say “Let’s prepare 5 glasses of lemonade”. During the process, they can learn about measurements, about mixtures, and ingredients. In the long run, they will learn to be independent, will be able to think critically, and come up with new ideas.

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2. Be a role model:  Kids usually mimic their parents. Set an example to them by pursuing your hobbies. Let them understand about dedication and determination. Encourage them when they finish their home-work. Share the joy of finishing timely deadlines. Follow a healthy life-style, and let them copy yours.

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3. Allow self-learning: Allow kids to come up with ideas for project work on their own. Provide a platform for discussion but do not spoon feed. This will ignite their inner creativity.

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4. Ensure ample opportunities to create: Let them consume less, and create more. If they have watched a cartoon movie, let them write the story. images

5. Give regular doses of Vitamin N: There are so many examples from nature to marvel at and learn from. The perseverance of the spider as it spins a web. The team work of ants as they store food for winter. Many plants depend on bees to spread pollen, helping them to reproduce. Nature thus enriches life.

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“Character is the real foundation of all worthwhile success” – John Hays Hammon

Let’s focus on our child’s success and motivate them to get better character and lead a very good life as a successful human.

A friendship band for “Dejection” ?

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Dejection is my friend…because my other friends did not allow me to play with them I felt sad. My friend ‘Dejection’ popped up…. Dejection stayed with me. After a while, I felt better and found my happiness back, and bade dejection bye.

What if this was real? If our kids could tie the friendship band with “Dejection”? The thought came to me this morning. It is a relaxed Sunday morning. I tried to browse through the newspaper. The headline caught my eyes “Is academic pressure driving kids to suicide?” It reads ” In protecting their children, parents don’t expose them to dejection. When they are bullied, parents intervene instead of letting children sort out their issues among themselves. They lack interpersonal skills and don’t know how to resolve issues, which in turn makes them vulnerable”.

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Dejection is my friend”. We need to tell our kids to make friendship with dejection. Why, you ask? Because, no one can avoid dejection in their lifetime. It’s better to recognize the feeling, give it some time and learn to handle it. Few months back, we hosted a painting contest for kids. We arranged small gifts for all the participants, and special prizes for the top three winners. The program was very satisfying. Both kids and their parents were happy. But that night we got to know that there was one kid whose parents felt dejected. They felt that there was no need to arrange special prizes for the top three winners. We wondered if the same set of parents would think the same way if their kid was one among the top three winners?

We realized that dejection can even be contagious. Perhaps the kid felt dejected, and in turn the parents also felt the same way. Like I said, dejection is real. A ‘friend’ who pops up once in a while. Like any ‘friend’, we do need to first acknowledge the presence. And then figure ways to send him off. How, you ask?

Use the  “Rule of 10“.  Ask whether the person will feel equally dejected after 10 hours/10 days/10 months/10 years? The answer is likely to be “No” in most of the cases.  We must ask the same question to kids. Here are 3 tips to follow:

  1. Look at the child and listen attentively
  2. Repeat what the child says: Helps the child understand that his/her concerns are being recognized
  3. After a few minutes, ask the “Rule of 10” questions

More often than not, these tips will help your child handle dejection. And it’s important not to dismiss the dejection. But give a patient hearing. And then, instead of saying it did not matter, let the child figure it out for herself/himself. Letting the child grapple with the ‘Rule of 10’ questions will help her/him handle it

Dejection is an unwanted friend. He pops into our lives from time to time. We need to acknowledge his visits instead of behaving as if he did not appear. Give him a few minutes if he needs, but then take the time to escort him out!

 

 

 

Time, can you please slow down?

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The other day one of my friend posted her daughter’s picture in facebook with the tag “Time, can you please slow down?” That was the picture of her daughter ready for middle school. It was an emotional moment for me too! We both were expecting moms at the same time. We shared the second trimester pictures of our would-be babies through mails. Those days, we did not have the luxury of facebook or whatsapp. Our babies crawled together, had their first ceremonial meals, followed by baby steps, and their first birthdays a couple of months from each other.

Time, can you please slow down?” I remember I and my husband debated about the right age to send our angel to school. After doing a lot of research on the play schools, we had decided to let her play at home till she was two-and-half. Back then, only few play schools had web based monitoring system. It was very difficult for us parents to let her go out of our sight. Also, we were worried that she might catch infections. We wanted to give enough time for her wind pipe to become strong! So we had decided to get her few blocks with alphabets on them. She learnt the letters happily with her grandparents!

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Time can you please slow down?” After a lot of feedback, we zeroed down on her school. We enrolled her directly to Montessori, mostly to avoid the hustle of looking for a primary school again. Also, we wanted her to have lifelong memories with early-age school friends. On the first whole week of school, I followed her all the way to school, driving behind her bus. I secretly observed her first footsteps in school. Discussed this with my friends and found out that I was not the only odd mom out there!!!

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Time can you please slow down?” Our angel has a box where she collected all her ‘milk’ teeth. She used to cry a lot before allowing me to pull her the teeth that were about to fall off. She always used to say “Wait Meem. Few seconds more. Then I will be ready”. Once her upper incisor came out while biting a ‘chapati’ at school. To the surprise of her teacher, she packed it in her handkerchief and brought it home. The box is still a treasure for her! I have observed her counting the teeth, and comparing those with her friends.

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Time can you please slow down?” Our angel does not run towards the slides anymore. She helps younger kids with the swing. She feels content with skating, cycling, and “rock paper scissor” types of hand games. We are glad that she has a gang at the apartment, and they network for 1-2 hours daily evening. And if any of them is late to show up, all of them flock to that friend’s place to get her to join.

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Time can you please slow down?” Our angel does not need much help with daily chores. Other than tying her hair, we do not have to concentrate much to get her dressed for school, or help with home-tasks. And just a couple of years back, we used to have a tough time to make her practice writing. Now-a-days she even manages to prepare a few dishes on her own, helps with watering the plants, folding clothes, and arranging her room.

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Time can you please slow down?” During long drives she always used to ask “how many more kilometers?” Now-a-days, she looks out through the window, and comments on the surroundings. Few days back she commented “The New India” — as the pillion riders too wore helmets. Our 11 year old takes part in the planing holidays, conversations on sports and history. Most of all, she enjoys offering her opinion on family decisions! She is in middle school, but still waits every night for bedtime stories!!!

Wish we could indeed turn the clock. Or slow down the passage of time! In the middle of all the hurry, work pressure, deadlines, and busy schedules, we have to make the most of every moment of our kid’s childhood. Children grow, their world-view changes. The way they relate to their parents also changes. And perhaps, this change is something we got to embrace. And hopefully, as the child grows, we can forge a friendship with our child. A friendship to savor forever.