5-tips on the use of hand sanitizers for kids

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My kiddo comes home from each of her birthday parties with a small gift bag. The gift bags usually contain small toys, coloring stuff, a mug, and a few pieces of candy. Few months back, I was surprised to find a small container of hand sanitizer wrapped in the bag. I knew everyone was obsessed, but I hadn’t realized that we were so obsessed with the supposed “miracle germ remover” that bottles are now replacing toys in gift bags. Not only gift bags, the sanitizers  have been successful in making a place for themselves in the purses of mums also.  Such “germophobe” mums try their level best to keep their kids out of danger zone of bacteria. They carry sanitizers everywhere, to the play area, to birthday parties. They also pack it in their kids school bag.

The question is that is there anything wrong in doing that? 

Before we come up with an answer, let us find out little more about hand sanitizers from medical point of view.

What are hand sanitizers? 

 -Hand sanitizers are products that can reduce microorganisms on the skin. They are categorized under consumer antiseptic products. An antiseptic product is a substance that kills germs and harmful bacteria.

When are they indicated for use?

– They are recommended to be used when soap and water is not readily available for hand wash.

What do these antiseptics contain?

– Hand sanitizers usually contain alcohol. The concentrations ranges from 45% to 95%. It is the same alcohol found in beer, wine and other liquors. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol or a combination of both in concentrations ranging from 60 to 95 percent. Other ingredients  include water, fragrance, and glycerin. Other non-alcohol based hand sanitizers contain an antibiotic called triclosan or triclocarban.

What is the current status of hand sanitizers?

– These products have not been shown to be more effective at preventing illness than plain soap and water.  Additionally, emerging data have raised concerns that long-term, daily use of these products may outweigh their presumed benefits.

The long-term, daily use of these products may outweigh their presumed benefits. How is that possible?

The obsession and failure of therapeutic effect: “Germophobe” mums fall victim to compulsive use of hand sanitizers rather than teaching kids about the benefit of hand wash using soap and water. Such kids very often fall sick.  There are studies that concluded that ultra clean environments during the early stages of a child’s life lowers their immunity. It makes them vulnerable to various diseases. Also, alcohol-based hand sanitizers don’t kill ALL types of germs, such as a stomach bug called norovirus, some parasites, and Clostridium difficile, which causes severe diarrhea. Hand sanitizers also may not remove harmful chemicals, such as pesticides and heavy metals like lead. Handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs, pesticides, and metals on hands. Knowing when to clean your hands and which method to use gives the best chance of preventing sickness. Also, non-alcohol based antibiotic sanitizers may cause drug resistance.

Toxic effects due to misuse: Recent reports have identified serious consequences, including shortness of breadth, acidic blood and other body fluids, and coma in young children who swallowed alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  According to CDC, the majority of intentional exposures to alcohol hand sanitizers occurred in children aged 6–12 years. Alcohol hand sanitizer exposures were associated with worse outcomes than were nonalcohol hand sanitizer exposures.

There are a lot of concerns on the use of hand sanitizers. But, in this era of bugs, parents always look for safety solutions. As there are a lot of positive and negative discussions on various forums about hand sanitizers, here are 5-tips from a doctor:

1. Use a hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.

2. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Use non-alcohol based sanitizer only if soap and water, and alcohol-based ones are not available.

3. Donot use hand sanitizers for kids less than 2 years.

4. Always monitor the use of sanitizer. Put a dime-sized amount on dry hands and have children rub their hands together until completely dry. Make sure youths do not put hands wet with sanitizer in their mouth. Teach kids the right way to use sanitizer, so that they use it safely in school. Use a hand sanitizer a very few times a day only and if skin is not damaged.

5. Store hand sanitizer out of children’s reach. Although a lick of sanitizer probably won’t make kids sick, they could swallow enough to cause alcohol poisoning.

Final message is that for kids, washing hands can be a fun and entertaining activity. It is simple enough for even very young children to understand. Handwashing gives kids a chance to take an active role in their own health.

Image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/commons

 

 

 

 

5 ways to get kids interested in reading story books

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I was talking to a friend the other day. They recently moved to India after living in the United states for 15 years.  She used to work as a child educator there. Initially, she was very skeptical  about the schooling of her 11 year old in India. But is relieved now as her kid is having a lot of fun at school. Fun like sharing lunch box, celebrating festivals, and getting to know new friends. Despite these positives, the educator mum was feeling low because of the lack of public libraries for kids. “In USA, they say parents must read stories to kids for at least 20 minutes daily. And most parents do that. Because of this, kids get into a habit of reading. Reading is so important for overall development“, she kept on talking. Her words reminded me of days when we had to struggle to get our kiddo to regular reading habit.

Our daughter used to love to listen to stories. But she won’t read on her own. We used to buy her age appropriate story books. First few years the books used to be very colorful, had 3-D images of characters, and letters were written in big fonts. The characters used to attract her, she used to love her books. But used to expect one parent to do the reading. There was a time when her friends parents would talk about the addiction of their kids to reading. We just used to listen, and feel hopeless. And then it changed. It changed so much that she is almost addicted to story books.  She also reads the bibliography of authors, writes excerpts, and gives suggestions to friends on what to read!

As I am composing this blog, she wrote a few lines about her experience. Here it goes: 

” The idea of reading story books came about when I was 8. Well actually the idea came from my parents. But since I hated reading, I pretty much tried everything to make sure that their ideas do not work. Alas, my methods failed and my parents made sure I read. No matter how much I tried, how many obstacles I placed, they just passed. And boom! There was a sudden explosion by the time I was 10. The reading (story book) hater (myself) all of a sudden turned into a reading lover. From Enid Bliton to Nancy Drew series; to the masterpieces of Agatha Christie and Rick Riordan and today stories by J.K Rowling, I am among the most savage reader you will ever find. Don’t know how a stubborn person like myself changed. But, well, it did happen.”

So what should parents do to get kiddo to love reading? 

1. Instill a regular reading habit: For some kids, love of reading doesn’t happen automatically. It needs to be nurtured and guided till they develop the liking for books. A regular dedicated reading time helps in the same. Give kiddo the opportunity to explore different kinds of fiction, poetry, graphic novels, books of world records and kooky facts, sports heroes, or gross-out science books.

2. Dedicate time into reading: According to a survey by the reading charity BookTrust, Adults spend more than 90 minutes on computers, phones or other types of technology, as opposed to just 25 minutes reading with their children. It also found parents were skipping pages when reading with their children, finishing the story before the end or refusing to read a second story. Almost half of the parents who admitted to doing this said they did so because they were ‘too tired’. So, it is important to give kids the love and support that they need. Sometimes, you have to read the stories. You can also negotiate to read half a page for every half a page the child reads.

3. Pick age appropriate books: That helps sustain interest. You can also pick books that match or slightly exceed the reading ability. This ensures continued effort from the child. The books that just exceed the reading ability helps expand the envelope.

4. Story clubs: Parents can host story clubs. Find out your kid’s  friends who are into reading, and encourage them. If they are already into reading, then the peer groups will encourage themselves. If not, you can be the catalyst to get every friend into reading.

5. Don’t give up: Don’t give up till kiddo gets interested into reading. It can sometimes be a struggle to get kids interested in reading, but it’s so important, in ways we may not always think about. Reading and storytelling are vital to preserving cultural identity, developing healthy brains, and cultivating curiosity in youngsters. So, if your kid is not into reading be a role model. Take a few minutes, sit down and read a book yourself. You will see the difference in few days for sure.

Our kiddo has now started reading Harry Potter. And interestingly, the stories are included in her school curriculum. This has made her eager to attend the classes, and take part in group discussions. Now-a-days, she give us an update about the literature class after school. We are glad to see this change over the last few years. Now, we have enrolled her to JustBooks library. We also buy her books. We encourage her to write an excerpt after finishing a book. Our kiddo has become more creative, improved upon her vocabulary, and communication skills. The 20 minutes of reading time has become the most sacred time for her.

Albert Einstein said “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales”. We are glad that we read and read to inspire her into reading!

I want to explore the fruit

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The other day we were waiting for our order of parathas at a highway dhaba. The place was quite crowded with young couples with small kids. They were mostly seated in groups. The long weekend rush was quite visible as most of the tables were full. The dhaba workers were quite busy taking down the orders, and satisfying the need of the guests. We were seated next to the table occupied by two families, two couples with two young boys. The elder kid would be around 6 years old, and the younger one must be only 4.

There was a huge neem tree providing shade to all of us. The tree bore lots of fruits. They were yellowish in color and looked yummy. Birds were fondly enjoying the fruits. Many had fallen on the ground also. I obsrved those as I had not seen such ripe neem fruits earlier. Suddenly, I heard the 6 year old asking his mom for permission to taste the fruit “I want to explore the fruit!” He had picked up a fruit from the ground around.

“I want to explore the fruit”- he asked his mom first, then dad, then the uncle, and finally showed it to the younger kid! Readers can you guess why I am writing this as a story?

-Because the kid approached 3 adults, and the adults were very in deep discussions. Not even a single adult listened to the kid. And yes, he was clear, spoke in a tone and language that was audible to me, to the person seated on the next table. The kid also approached the younger boy. He boy was also busy playing with his toy car, and didnot show any sign of active listening. In the mean time, the dhaba representative got their order. This disruppted the serious, active discussion of the adults. The mom called the kid. He went and sat next to his mon. He kept the fruit on the table near his plate. He was playing with the fruit, and at the same time grabbing his lunch.

-They say “One can tell a child something a million times, but the one time they actually listen is the only time that really matters!” The questions that bothered me for sometime:

1. What if the kid had consumed the fruit? Well, neem fruits are not toxins. But any substance when taken in excess is a toxin. What if the kid had consumed lots of those fruits. He was really in to it. Luckily, his attention was diverted by the arrival of their order.

2. What if the kid learns not to take permissions? What if he feels that parents anyway do not actively listen? Well, it may be an isolated incidence. May be the parents meet their friends after a long time, and were really concentrating on the discussions. May be they didn’t think that their kid will grab something random from the ground. And would love to explore that!

3. Why am I writing this? Is this not a small thing? Everyone makes mistakes in life, but that doesn’t mean they have to pay for them the rest of their life.   It doesn’t mean they are bad. It means they are human. And humans need reminders. In this case, its a reminder to be more responsible as parents. As such a small thing can lead to a huge parenting mistake. Kids trust adults, so its the responsibility of parents to help them adhere to the trust by “Responding appropriately”. We often think children don’t understand, but they do. A lot more than we imagine. When we listen, we show them we care and empathize with them.

As the kid was happily eating his food, I bid him good-bye. I left the place with an important reminder. The reminder that I too have a teen! Whether someone else has observed me?

 

 

What lobsters teach about adversity

 

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At a BloomBrite interactive session with primary kids, I was addressing them about “Our Body”.  During discussions, I asked them to visualize themselves as adults. And asked them why they would love to grow up into adults. Here are the answers:

Kid 1: Will be able to travel and visit many countries like his dad.

Kid 2: Will be a doctor, and able to do surgeries and treat people.

Kid 3: Will not be required to study, but watch a lot of TV.

Kid 4: Will be playing cricket.

Kid 5: Will have an ATM card, buy whatever he likes.

There were such interesting answers from other kids too except one. That kid mentioned he wants to stay as a kid, as life is stressful for adults. Stressful for adults? Why do you say so? His answer was alarmimg! “”…

I told them the story. They say the humble hard-shelled animal can teach us about how to cope with stress. The story of lobsters that I remind myself during adversities. Here it goes:

Lobster is a soft and mushy animal that lives inside of a rigid shell. That rigid shell does not expand. As the lobster grows the shell becomes very confining. The lobster feels itself under pressure, and uncomfortable.Well how can the lobster grow? The  lobster casts off the shell and produces a new one.

-This process repeats many times during the life time.  It goes under a rock formation to protect itself from predatory fish, casts off the shell and produces a new one. Eventually, that shell becomes very uncomfortable as it grows. And the lobster repeats the process. The stimulus for the lobster to be able to grow is that it feels uncomfortable. So,  we have to realize that times of stress are also times of  signals for growth. And if we use adversity properly, we can grow through adversity.

The kids were amazed “Stress for growth? And the lobser handles it so wisely?”…….

I am no one to judge the level of stress of the parents of that kid. But we are the role models for our kids. They observe us.  They must not get a negative judgment about life. Afterall, life is to live….

Brush, Book, Bed: The 3 B’s of sleep hygiene for kids

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Sleep is very important for the overall health and well-being of kids. In fact, good sleep habits start from birth. And it’s sort of a custom for friends and family to suggest sleep tips to new parents. However, getting young children to sleep, and to stay asleep is often one of the most daunting tasks of parenthood.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) mentions that adequate sleep duration for age on a regular basis leads to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep each night is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, especially for teens who may experience increased risk of self-harm.

No one knows for sure why we sleep, but here are 2 basic theories:

1. Sleep has a restorative function.

2. Sleep has an adaptive function.

The restoration theory suggests that sleep helps the body recover from all the work it did when awake. The adaptation theory suggests that sleep may have developed because of the need of animals to protect themselves. For example, humans search for food and water during the day because it is easier to see when the sun is out. When it is dark, it is best to save energy, avoid getting eaten, and avoid falling off a cliff.  Whatever are the theories, it is an well accepted fact that sleep is vital for any life form.

There is an Irish proverb that says “The beginning of health is sleep”… And recent studies identified a lot of sleep related healh hazards in kids in this digital era.  Between 20 and 30 percent of kids experience sleep problems. Because of this increased risk, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has come up with the Brush, Book, and Bed program – The 3 B’s of sleep hygiene for kids! This 3-B program has a simple and clear message for parents:

1.Each night, help your children to brush their teeth.

2.Read a favorite book (or two)!

3.Get to bed at a regular time each night.

The program advocates a total of 11-14 hours of sleep every 24 hours for kids aged 1-2 years; 10-13 hours, for 3-5 years; and 9-12 hours, for kids aged 6-12 years.

As sleep hygiene is advocated as part of the 3-B’s, parents can play a major role by  instilling the 3-B’s as a routine skill in kids. The correct brushing techniques routinely can help prevent cavities, and provide a good oral health. Reading bed-time stories  can benefit kids socially and educationally. For toddlers, parents can read stories. As kids grow up, hopefully they will form their own reading habits. Finally, regular bed time each night  is important as kids thrive on consistency and routine.

 

 

5-tips to adhere to parenting resolutions for the new year

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Its raining like crazy here. I was having some “me time” post dinner. Somehow, the rhyme “Rain, rain, go away” was echoing in my ears. The smell of fresh earth, and the rhyme mixed with nostalgia dragged me to my childhood. I used to sit near the window, extend my hand to collect drops of rain on my small palm… The childhood days never come back. Still I lingered on with my memories. Hopped onto a boat, and set sail to my imagination. Felt a gust of endorphins rush into my veins. And then I felt mom. Her presence all around me despite her having bid goodbye forever. Felt her counseling me on, guiding my sail. And it was then that it suddenly dawned. My boat of the year was sailing to its conclusion. The new year was awaiting me.

One more boat to hop onto…and it better be a lovelier boat than the one of 2016. And to make it lovelier, I need to have some resolutions…

-Meem, why did you get so angry with me in the evening?

My kiddo walked in. She came and hugged me. We conversed for a while. The conversation and the hug led me think about my parenting resolutions. We feel blessed to be with our kids. But sometimes long for “me times” too. Especially, when we feel too tied up because of our chores. My first resolution should be to manage my frustrations. As frustrations lead to anger. And many a times, kiddo has to take the brunt. Just wanted to check if other mums too are sailing in the same boat. I logged into an FB group of mums. Wrote a post “Mums, what are your parenting resolutions for the new year?”

Sharing few of the comments here:

-Mum 1: To give more hugs and kisses to both my daughter. Time is flying and they are growing fast so don’t want to waste time in shouting, screaming…… will give loads kisses and hugs when I get angry.

-Mum 2: Kids grow up very fast. Have to make use of every minute we spend with kids in a positive way. They are God’s blessings to us. We should respect that.

-Mum 3: Practice the art of patience with my kid

-Mum 4: To make more beautiful memories then previous year

-Mum 5: To Be a gentle parent…

-Mum 6: To live by example!

-Mum 7: Stop using the mobile and spend more time with the kid…

-Mum 8: Go for martial arts, swimming or music with my son…

-Mum 9: To make kiddo independent…

From the above comments, its very clear that parents want to give their best to kids. They want to be good with kids, spend quality time, and connect with them in a positive way. This is important as spending just 10 minutes per day of uninterrupted, one-on-one time with kids builds emotional connections, reduces negative behaviors, and makes them more cooperative throughout the day. kids learn how to behave, act, and deal with life situations by watching their parents. If mom screams, or treats people with no respect, her kids eventually will follow the same. If dad sits on the couch all day, and doesn’t help with housework, chances are that the kids will grow up believing this is how people are supposed to act. Kids watch the work ethics, health awareness, and all details of handling day to day activities of parents with a magnifying glass. So it is important for parents to become role models, and lead kids by their examples.

Here are my 5-tips how one can adhere to the resolutions:

1. Write it Down: Seeing resolution clearly articulated in ink, on paper can have a tremendous effect on feeling of commitment to it. The other ways of reminders are typing it out on laptop, or with sticky notes, or saving in mobile with google keep.  This will work as automatic reminder daily when device is turned on. Alternatively, the resolutions can be pasted on the wall, or fridge door.

2. Share with a friend: Its said that a workout buddy can help motivate you to hit the gym. The same concept can extend here too. A friend or family can help one adhere to resolutions by reminding! Reminding about progress. Teasing about non-progress to hurt ego.

3. Take smaller steps at a time: Set a goal. Break the goal into smaller steps. For example, to become  a gentle parent one need to identify the pointers. These are active listening, involving kids in decision making, to take time outs with kid, and to learn to judge a kid’s behavior not the kid. One can start with active listening first, and then slowly climb up the ladder.

4. Make it a team effort: Success requires a team effort. So its better to discuss about resolutions with one’s partner, and involve in supportive coparenting. Kids do better in coparenting environments. And, the team involvement ensures adherence to goals.

5. Take care of self: Much like the “Oxygen Mask Rule” on an airplane, a parent who takes care of self is a better parent. Say No to one more extra job requirements,  hit the gym, treat yourself to a pedicure, plan “me times” to pursue hobbies, and take time off the routine chores.

Kids watch the work ethics, health awareness, and all details of handling day to day activities of parents with a magnifying glass. So it is important for parents to become role models, and lead kids by their examples!

Were you worried about fear of failure?

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And I tried to skip to my own personal space. Her words were echoing “Were you worried about fear of failure mamma?” I was the first child to my parents. Often my parents would be told, “But you have daughters…”

“Were you worried about fear of failure mamma?” – This was such an unexpected question from my 12 year old. She has always been an inquisitive child right from her baby days, and a chatter box too! Her vocabulary is full of Why/How/Where/When/Who/What? She keeps asking questions till she gets totally convinced about clearing her doubts. But, this…. this seemed like an entry point to a little serious discussion.

“Were you worried about fear of failure mamma?” Why are you asking? Are you worried? “Not exactly mamma…but some of my friends are. They keep saying what if they score bad marks?” This reminded me of a story shared by my colleague. His daughter goes to Montessori. The kids mom wanted her to color a flower. She colored a few petals and lost interest. Her mom mentioned to the kid that she will fail in school if she gives up a task like that. “Dad will admit me to a different school”…the kid had responded! Both parents were spellbound by the thought process of their kid :)

– “Were you worried about fear of failure mamma?” 

– What about you?

– No mamma, I am not worried about failure…may be I am like dad. He once mentioned that he didn’t worry about failure.  Why do some people worry so much?

– May be they are not like their dads. When do your friends talk about fear of failure?

-Whenever there is some exam or some performance. I really don’t know why they worry!

-They don’t know that FAIL means First Attempt In Learning! Enough of discussions…if you are clear of your doubts now, please concentrate on studies. You have an exam tomorrow…

And I tried to skip to my own personal space. Her words were echoing “Were you worried about fear of failure mamma?” – I was the first child to my parents. We had a big extended family with lots of cousins. My cousin brothers were all good in studies. The family had high hopes of their successful careers. When it came to the daughters of the family, no one really asked them to study well, or have a career of their own. Growing up, the distinction was clear to me. Often my parents would be told, “But you have daughters…”. Given this setup, I somehow wanted to do well myself…and make my parents proud of having daughters. And I used to fear failure. Because I wanted to prove that daughters can achieve everything like sons.

I went up to my daughter. Sat her down and shared this. She was taken aback. Took some time to absorb it.

-But how did you overcome this fear?

-I used to do a lot of positive self talks whenever I felt down! Once I started to do well, I kept thinking about the successes. And that helped me prepare well without worrying about failure. Often, one single incidence of success can help kids break out of the shell of fear of failure. In my case, may be it was that…

Kids must learn to overcome fear of failure. As parents, we need to listen to their worries, and discuss to assuage the fears. We should share our own childhood stories with kids. It would make them see that they are not the only ones to experience fear of failure. And through personal examples show that most of the times the fears are unfounded. Or they can be overcome with a bit of diligence and hard work.

What’s inside the box: 5-tips that helped a bullied child

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The other day, I was walking past the corridor on my way home from work. As soon as I walked past the elevator, a huge cardboard box caught my sight. I was curious about what might have been wrapped inside! It was written shoe-stand with shoes :). I thought our new neighbors might have shipped stuff from the middle east. Because of curiosity again, I tried to peep inside the box. And guess what! I discovered a young boy hiding inside with his hands and legs folded. He somehow managed to fit himself inside the box. I became alert. I pulled him out. Thought he might be with a gang of friends playing ‘Hide and Seek’. I started talking to the boy.

– Are you hiding from your friends? Playing hide-and-seek?

– No

– Why are you sitting inside this box? Where are your friends?

– They are playing inside the house.

– What? Why are you here alone? Let me take you to your friends.

We rang the bell. There were 3-4 kids in my neighbor’s house. The leader mentioned that they do not play with young kids. And that’s an instruction from his parents. I understood now that the boy was sad and the box was his cocoon shelter. Can you please play with him outside for sometime?  “No auntie, he has damaged a flower pot already”. And they all came out and showed a pot that the boy had kicked in a fit of rage and damaged! There was some spill over soil to testify their fact!  I looked at the boy, and his sadness had increased. He murmured softly that he already said “Sorry” to the team of elder kids. And told that he kicked the pot because he was left out of the games. “Don’t you have other friends to play with?” To this he mentioned that his age kids usually return little late from school, and come late for playing.

My only option was to safely take the boy to his house. But the I decided to spend some time with him. I talked to him, tried to instill some life skills. The only reason was that I wanted to see him happy. Here are my 5-tips that helped the bullied boy:

1. Listened to his story: I gained the trust of the boy as I offered to listen to him. I took him to the house of the elder kids, and tried to solve his problem. I discussed with him various options, and offered solutions. But most importantly, I listened patiently. It’s a common suggestion to parents when their kid becomes a victim of bullying.

2. Made him aware of his mistake: I took the boy near the flowering pot. I explained to him that plants are living objects. And that he must say sorry to the plant for having kicked it. The boy did what I asked. I mean he really stood before the plant and said sorry in all earnestness. He was aware of his behavior. He promised that he will not hurt others just because he is angry or sad.

3. Helped him to come out of sadness: My conversation with the boy helped him come out of his sadness. As we discussed options of play for him, he came out with the idea of going back home to his mother, spend time doing painting, and come out to the play area in the evening when his other friends would be around!

4. Directed him to his safety net: The boy was hiding inside the cardboard box.  Somebody could have easily pushed it to the side and he would have got hurt. Luckily that was not the case and he was not hurt. I showed him the way to his safety net i.e. his home.

5. Imparted him the SHIFT-skills: Overall, I had to quickly ensure that his confidence does not take a hit, and help with a strategy to overcome the rejection and mild bullying that he encountered. First was to help him Show confidence, to be able to Handle emotions, to learn to Ignore bullies and Find good friends, and to confide in a Trusted adult are the skills to be imparted to victims of bullying. I explained to the boy that if the elder kids do not want to play with him, he must move on and find good friends of his age. And that he must discuss this incident with his trusted adults.

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Bullying is such a common phenomenon that all of us see it around us. Kids can become victims and perpetrators of bullying without really consciously being aware of it. Some are mild forms of bullying, and some are severe. Either way, the victim does go through rejection, sadness, and can lose confidence. And we have to get them out of it and help them come out of it.

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try”- John F. Kennedy. I hope I tried the right way to pull out a kid of his danger zone…

5-reasons why kids must do household chores

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The other day, we had a  get together with old friends. There was this friend’s daughter, a thirteen year old, who had her birthday on the same day. She lived abroad with her parents since her birth, and recently moved back to India. I had always known her as a sweet kid who loved to interact, and make friends easily. She was having her fun time with the gang of kids. And then she came to the kitchen for a glass of water, and observed me arranging dinner. “Auntie do you need help?” I was spell-bound! This kid is good in mixing with people, good in academics, and even had the empathy and manners to offer me help with my chores. These days, most  parents want their kids to concentrate on things that will bring them success – good academic scores, brilliance in performing arts, and excellence in sports etc.  Her parents must have been training her in life skills as well!

Why must kids do household chores? I found an interesting article published in the Wall Street Journal. It mentions that decades of research shows the benefits of chores—academically, emotionally and even professionally. Involving children in household chores at an early age helps build a lasting sense of responsibility and self-reliance. By taking active role in household tasks, kids begin to take care of themselves and learn skills that comes in handy as they grow up. A child may not always be the star student or athlete, but they get to realize that they can contribute to the family. This sense of self-worth alone is reason enough why kids must do household chores.

What are some of the tasks where you could involve your child? Start with some very simple habits – arranging toys, bringing back their plates and bowls to the kitchen after a meal etc. Gradually, you get them to make their bed, tidying up the study table etc. With time, kids learn to do these tasks well. And as kids grow up, one can introduce few more like watering plants, and helping with dishes. All you need to do is stick to chores that are age-appropriate. Here are a good set of guidelines for age-appropriate chores.

Here are 5-reasons why kids must do household chores:

1.Responsibility: Kids need to understand that housework and chores are a part of life. They must learn that after playing, its their responsibility to rearrange the toys back to their respective places. To switch off the lights and fans when not required, to put their clothes for laundry etc. Life does not treat us same always. They have their parents to help them now, but in future they will need to take responsibility of their chores.

2. Self-sufficiency: As society changes, one needs to adopt and survive well. When kids learn to do things for themselves, they develop a positive self identity, and it makes them feel competent and worthy. A kid who learns to help himself with meals as a tween, will definitely be able to prepare a meal as an adult.

3. Empathy: Kids who take part in chores become more empathic.  They learn the importance of contributing to family. This in turn gets ingrained in them. They later understand the needs of others, and  contribute to the society, . They are more likely to be well-adjusted, have better relationships with friends and family and be more successful in their careers as adults.

4. Confidence: As kids grow up helping with household chores, they gain confidence in their own abilities. Taking up a task, finishing it and doing it well to the satisfaction of adults boost the confidence of kids. They realize that they can actually accomplish tasks like adults. Initially, the joy the kids get out of this is tremendous. More importantly, it subconsciously fills kids with confidence – something that helps in academics, sports and other tasks kids take up.

5. Better team-players: When you get your child to participate in household chores, it is teamwork. The family is the team! Every member of the family, including the children, does his or her bit. Still, does it really help the child in any way, you wonder. The answer is a resounding yes. Participating in household chores along with the rest of the family makes kids better team players. And teamwork is fundamental to success in life. Whether it doing a science project in school, participating in school cultural events, or sports – teamwork becomes the name of the game. And beyond school and college, teamwork is supremely important for success in one’s professional life.

Why must kids do household chores? Participation, following instructions, ownership are some of the aspects that are naturally ingrained when kids help with household chores. When you tell your child to water the plants everyday, the child owns the task. For some, it brings immediate sense of responsibility. For others, it may take a few days to get into a habit. Yet, at some point, ownership kicks in. Likewise, other traits such as tendency to volunteer, follow and execute instructions, and taking a lead – all get gradually ingrained in them. They eventually start enjoying their part of work. They develop into responsible, self sufficient, empathic, confident adults who are better team-players- traits that are very much required for overall success in life!

 

 

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”.