The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity


“The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity” got reminded of the lines by George Carlin.

– A beautiful one, isn’t it?

-Yes meem, replied my 12 year old. Its a butterfly invitation card. Its Angel, my friend’s birthday tomorrow.

-She should have verbally invited. Why do you think she spent time on this? Anyway nobody gives credit to the caterpillar…In this case its Angel. You just mentioned such a nice butterfly card. A compliment to the card, but not the hard work of your friend.

-Guess she wants to make more memories. Doing crafts with mom is fun meem. And its not hard work, its spending time together. Remember that day, the printer stopped working! And instead of print outs, we had to draw the maps. It took time to finish the project but loved it a lot to get to spend time with you. Everybody in school said that the project was nice. No body complimented the hard work.

– Nobody complimented the hard work? The perseverance? The caterpillar of all success? Angel’s mom is so much forward thinking I thought. Through a small craft project she taught her daughter 5 important skills. They are the following:

1. Bonding and fun: Kids love to spend quality time with parents. And especially, they love any event related to their birthday. Preparing birthday cards is a great way of making memories.

2. Perseverance: Craft projects are effective tools for illustrating  perseverance to kids. Completing a craft requires  the kid to stick to the task over an extended period of time. It requires a good deal of patience and concentration. And provide hands-on opportunities for developing this important moral value.

3. Self esteem: It is important to help kids discover their own unique talents and qualities. Also, to learn to value their own strengths. Completion of birthday invitation cards for friends would definately boost her self esteem.

4. Completion of short term goal: Angel must have learnt to work towards a goal. Making the cards would have given her a sense of accomplishment.

5. Reliance on self: Its an important skill in today’s world. One must let kids do what they’re capable of doing on their own. This boosts confidence.

“The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity”… its ok. Because the butterfly is the creation of the caterpillar!

The morning madness called “Social jet lag”


The alarm goes off and the morning battle begins:

-“2 more minutes mama. I am so sleepy, please let me sleep.”

After the so called 2 minutes:

-“School is bad. You adults have office late. How are kids supposed to wake up so early?”

With anger and frustration in her face, she approaches the toilet. Slams the door, almost ignores my request to switch on the geyser. The next half an hour is like a bullet train ride to the most deserted place in town!

This is a common scenario in many houses with kids. Another mom mentioned about the morning madness:

As the minutes tick by and he still hasn’t gotten out of bed, you resort to screaming and yelling in his face, and then tear the blankets off the bed. In desperation, you pull him out of bed by his feet. Though you know you won’t be able to do that for many more years. A screaming match ensues, and now your child has missed the bus, so you have to take him to school. You’ll be late for work again, and you feel your blood pressure rising with every traffic light. Finally, your child slams the door of your car. You head to work, agitated and upset, sure that your boss will make a comment again today about your lateness.

So what are the ways to handle this morning madness?

Responsibility to the kid: Sit down with the kid and have a discussion about getting up in the morning. Make it very clear that he/she is responsible for the actions.

Early to bed: Discuss about the value of sleep. That their brain functions during sleep. And processes all the information.  They require around 9 to 12 hours of sleep. So during bed time, all distractions in the form of TV and gadgets, loud noise, bright light etc. should be avoided.

Wake up at the same time every day: Sometimes, inability to wake up can be due to the biological clock of the body. This happens when we allow kids to sleep for extra hours over the weekend. A regular sleep-wake up routine is very important for proper functioning of our hormones and chemicals.

Parents need to ensure that the morning madness does not accompany a “Social jet lag“.  Unlike a jet lag that one normally gets while on travel at different time zones, a social jet lag is the chronic clash between what body needs (sleep) and what life demands (work or activity). According to researchers, over the past few decades, people have been experiencing the problem of social jet lag. This is because of the constant work pressure, going off to bed late at night, and yet waking up at the normal time. They lose out on approximately 40 minutes of sleep. Social jet lag is said to be the root cause of many problems. These include excessive weight gain, irritable behavior, low productivity at work, and predisposition to diseases of the immune system, respiratory and cardiac problems.

Eventhough, the phenomen is not studied extensively in kids, its our responsibility to equip them with knowledge and awareness about the requirement of adequate sleep. And to help them plan their daily routine with due consideration to what body needs. As Benjamin Franklin had quoted “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise“… kids must be made aware that a bed time routine with good nights sleep is one of the predictors of academic success!



A lazy eye!


Dolly studies in first standard. She is a bright child. She concentrates well in the class. Finishes her home work on time. Plays well with other kids. Overall, she is a healthy and happy child. One day, her mother notices some changes in her handwriting. The letters seemed to be jumbled together. The sentences were well beyond the straight lines. She expresses her concern to Dolly. But, Dolly seemed to be ignorant of the changes.

During PTM, mom requests teacher to let Dolly occupy the front seat. The idea is to have a pair of vigilant eyes. So that her daughter doesn’t get distracted in class. And it works. But to her mom’s surprise. The reason is something different. Dolly comes back home, and mentions of the ease of understanding words written on the blackboard. Mom decides to take her to an ophthalmologist.

After a series of tests, Dolly gets a patch for her left eye. She also gets a pair of spectacles. Doctor announces that her right eye is lazy. And needs to work independently. The patch on the left eye makes the right eye work harder. That is expected to make the right eye muscles stronger. Though initially it is a struggle, Dolly adheres well. She continues the treatment for few months. And becomes absolutely alright.

Vision is essential to success in school. When a child’s vision suffers, chances are his/her schoolwork does, too. According to an estimate, a whopping 41% children in India suffer from vision problems. If left untreated, it can affect learning ability, personality and adjustment in school. Parents, as well as teachers, should be aware of these 5 symptoms that indicate that the child requires evaluation:

1. Holding books too close

2. Frequent eye rubbing, excessive tearing, or headache

3. Handwriting going bad

4. Lack of attention at school

5. Receiving lower grades than usual

Refractive errors are the most common cause of vision problems among school-age children. Also, some children with learning difficulties exhibit specific behaviors of hyperactivity and distractibility. They are often labeled as having “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD). It is important to note that, undetected and untreated vision problems can elicit some of the very same signs and symptoms commonly attributed to ADHD. Due to these similarities, some children may be mislabeled as having ADHD.  They actually might have an undetected vision problem.

So, what’s the standard eye check up protocol  for kids?

-All children need an eye exam at the time of starting Schooling.

-All children need an eye exam once in two years.

-All children need an eye exam if one of the above 5 symptoms are present.

So, what steps are required to take care of eyes in kids?

A healthy diet: A diet with emphasis on fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts is a must. For non-vegetarians, eggs and a small amount of fish delivers the nutrients. Kids require awareness to avoid addictive sweets as well as junk food. And take more of natural, unprocessed foods. These helps preserve circulation to the retina, rods, cones and lens.

Ocular hygiene: Reading in good light and keeping the book at a minimum distance of 12 to 14 inches are basic requirements. Playing sports is one of the best ways to increase blood circulation to the eye. Kids require awareness to restrict the use of TV and gadgets to a maximum of 2 hrs daily.

There are many more Dollys around. We’ve got to identify them, and help them tide over their vision problems early on.