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5 WAYS TO COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY WITH YOUR PRE-TEEN

There are many hard things in life and one of them is talking to your pre-teen or adolescent.  Parents with pre-teens and teenagers at home will know exactly what I’m talking about. Hormonal changes are real and boy, do they affect the way pre-teens communicate with their parents. Sometimes, the most genuine questions asked in good interest trigger an explosive response from your child simply because of the way the particular question has been asked. Words matter a lot when communicating and in case of communicating with a pre-teen, they carry more value than you know! 

Pre-teens struggle with a myriad of emotions and navigating through them is hard, with the dynamic changes the world brings today. A strong relationship with their parents provides them the much needed anchoring and support they need in their lives. The key lies in being around them without being overly assertive. Here are five ways in which you can make your everyday communication with your child better:

  • Steer clear of asking them how their day was. This turns them off especially when they’ve had a hard day. Moreover, this question is too predictable for them and they already know what answer to give you, which defeats the purpose of honest communication. Ask open-ended questions and keep the conversation centred around their interests. 
  • Don’t multitask. They hate it as much as we do when somebody is on their phone or isn’t wholeheartedly invested in the communication. 
  • Don’t give standard responses: Bullying and competition between peers gets way more vicious as teenage approaches. Pre-teens often hide such incidents from their parents fearing their involvement and retaliation. If your child comes to you with such instances, don’t give them the standard response of ‘don’t pick fights’ or ‘you should ask them to leave you alone.’ Instead, ask your child what they’d like to do and what kind of guidance they want from you and then offer advice and a safety plan to comfort them.  
  • Sarcasm is best avoided. Hormonal changes are massive in pre-teens and they have a hard time regulating their emotions. Don’t label your child as ‘difficult’ or ‘sensitive’ on the basis of their emotional outbursts. Respect where your child is coming from. Sarcasm and taunts don’t work; they only end up making children more defensive.   
  • Remind them about consequences: Pre-teens and teenagers are impulsive creatures. They often may not know the reasons behind their actions and prodding them with questions only makes it worse. If they make the wrong decision, gently point out the consequences of that decision and ask them what they would do next time.

If you know any other tips on effectively communicating with pre-teens and teenagers, do share them in the comments with our readers.

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How to Tackle Sibling Rivalry

Admit it, we’ve all had those moments where we’ve wanted to punch our siblings in the face or banish them to an island, where they can never come back from. If there’s anyone who can push our buttons and test our limits, it’s our siblings. But hey, remember the moments you stayed up late with them watching movies, sneaking in snacks from the kitchen, playing hide and seek, tickling them until it really hurt or just talking? When they covered up for you in front of your parents and hugged you until it felt better? Nothing can replace those moments either. 

Getting straight to the point, our siblings are people we love and detest in equal measure but we definitely cannot do without them. Building a healthy relationship with one’s siblings is absolutely necessary because they ground us, support us and their love keeps us going. A sibling surely is one of the first few friends you make and also a part of the life-long ones. 

It’s also important to remember that sibling rivalry is inevitable. There’s no way you can get rid of it completely because it’s impossible for two individuals to like each other all the time, especially when they live in the same house. As children grow and evolve, they develop mechanisms to decide what they like and don’t like. Disagreements with one’s siblings is one of the earliest signs of a child taking control and finding their identity. 

Things can get worrying if you find your children bickering a lot more than usual or if they can’t bear to be in the same room as each other. But there’s nothing some guidance and  change in attitude cannot solve. Here are some tips to make sure that your children are not at each other’s throats constantly-

  1. KEEP CALM & CARRY ON: Rule of thumb is that children tend to get more aggressive when they grow up in environments where there’s a lot of anger. As your children watch you deal with things patiently, they try to adopt the same pattern. When you’re asked to referee a fight, don’t lose your cool instantly. Instead, monitor the situation patiently at first and then give your inputs. 
  1. TREAT YOUR CHILDREN FAIRLY, NOT EQUALLY: Read on before you roll your eyes. Not all siblings have the same age gap or function the same way. Some siblings are separated from each by quite some years and expecting them to have the same level of maturity and understanding might not be right. Siblings also behave differently which often can lead to one sibling getting the unfair advantage. Try to help them understand each other and set rules accordingly. 
  1. DON’T ENTERTAIN COMPLAINTS: Unless, one of your children sets the kitchen on fire or does something really nasty to the other, don’t engage in hearing complaints. Teach your children to reach resolutions amiably by guiding them on what’s right and what not. If at all one of them ends up repeating the same pattern, then intervention is required. 
  1. CELEBRATE THEIR INDIVIDUALITY: No child is the same as another child. Instead of comparing your children to each other, acknowledge their individual qualities and celebrate their wins. If one likes reading and the other likes dancing, be happy for both of them and try to be a part of their activities. This teaches children a valuable lifelong lesson; co-existence.
  1. NON-NEGOTIABLE FAMILY TIME:  No matter how busy you get, try to squeeze in some minutes with your children together. This teaches them the importance of family. Family dinners, board-game nights and movie marathons are highly underrated but they end up being some of the precious memories your children have of each other and as a family together. 
  1. LISTEN: Listening can be the most therapeutic tools you offer your child. Next time they try to tell you about how something made them feel, tune into their words without judgement. This allows space for their emotions and avoids fights caused due to pent-up frustration. 

With all of us staying indoors, we hope that these tips will be helpful for you in navigating some silly fights and lots of witty banter. 

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Celebrating Mothers Day at Home This Year

For most of 2020, most of us stayed indoors. 2021 was supposed to be different. It was supposed to be the year we reclaimed our festivals. But with the second wave of the coronavirus upon us, it looks like the reclaiming will have to wait a bit longer. For now, we will have to make do with staying home and staying safe. 

Why are celebrations important?

We might be tempted to just chuck it all, and decide not to have any celebrations, and that’s okay too if you want to take it easy this year. But studies have shown that the celebratory attitude works really well to keep your spirits up. It also breaks the monotony of the day for you and the family! 

One day where most mothers feel loved (maybe a bit more than the rest of the year) is Mother’s Day. And it’s a wonderful occasion to practice gratitude, togetherness and of course, have fun. Mother’s Day this year is going to be celebrated indoors for most of us but there’s no reason it can’t be just as special as the other years. Here are a few ideas to celebrate Mother’s Day, indoors:

Making the kitchen a Mum-free zone:

Mothers can’t seem to break away from the kitchen, especially during a lockdown. With help missing and everyone getting hunger pangs at odd hours. So, for a change, make sure the family steps up! From making tea in the morning to breakfast and lunch, the children can be in charge- with a watchful eye from dad. Granted, lunch may be sandwiches. Breakfast may just be toast with bread and butter. But it’s a great way to teach independence to the children, while they gain a healthy appreciation of just how much effort mothers put in for every meal. 

Movie marathons at home:

With the OTT platforms offering up a whole host of options, the need to go to a movie theatre has become quite redundant. To complete the movie-theatre experience, let mummy choose the movie. Pop some popcorn in the microwave, throw a few cushions, draw the curtains and Voila! Your movie -theatre experience just came home!

Art/Photography workshop for mum:

Mothers become our default family photographers and home decorators! They love nothing better than clicking pictures of the family on vacations, during festivals, on special occasions, you name it. Wouldn’t it be great to let them indulge in their hobby and book them for an art or photography class? There are plenty of classes available online – and some of them even focus on mobile phone photography. An ideal gift for a snap-happy mum!

Mother’s Day goodies:

It’s never been easier to create personalised gifts for mother’s day. From photo mugs to t-shirts with cheeky messages, it’s all there at the click of a button. Just a couple of things to remember: if you’re selecting a picture, pick one that mum loves (not one where you’ve caught her mid-sneeze), if you’re picking a gift, pick one she’ll use (don’t look at tea-pots for a coffee-lover) and check the delivery timelines (make sure they arrive before d-day!)

The way to a mum’s heart…

…Is definitely through baked goods- especially if her children are baking! Look up a simple cake/ cookie recipe on the internet and watch her melt into a mushy puddle when the children bake it for her. It doesn’t need to be perfect. I’m sure the fact that her children have made it will make it ‘the best cake in the world’!  

Quick art cards:

Use your child’s palm prints or footprints to make a very personalised, quick no-fuss Mother’s Day Card. If the children are old enough, they can write on the card, if not, daddy can write what they want to say on the card. Guaranteed to make every mother go, ‘Aww’!

Mother’s Day coupons:

Make a series of small coupons for things you think she will enjoy. For example, “good for one hug from any member of the family” or “good for taking charge of the TV remote” or even “good for one hour of me-time”. Mummy can then choose to use these coupons throughout the year, when she chooses (or use it all up in one day, depending on her mood). It’s also a great way to let her know that she’s appreciated throughout the year!

Whatever you decide to do on Mother’s Day, do remember that the little things count as much as the grand gestures. Helping out with chores, spending time together as a family and bonding over shared memories will carry far more value than buying a really expensive gift on that one day, but ignoring her needs and feelings for the rest of the year. Here’s wishing all Mothers a day full of happiness and love. 

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HOW TO CELEBRATE MOTHER’S DAY MEANINGFULLY

Mother’s Day is special for a variety of reasons; the most important one being that we get to celebrate the most important woman in our lives. Though I’m a firm believer in celebrating people special to us everyday, Mother’s Day is a day exclusively dedicated to cherishing moms, which makes it unique. Given the current circumstances, all of us have become acutely aware of our privileges and blessings; one of the greatest ones being around our mothers. For those of us who’re not around our mothers at this point of time, I know it’s hard but we can always make her feel special even when we’re not around. 

Over the years, Mother’s Day celebrations have changed drastically. Before the internet took over our lives, we’d dutifully make cards for our mommies. The nicer ones of us went an extra mile and even baked a cake. Then, happened the rise of Facebook , Instagram and eventually, Snapchat and our physical gestures took a backseat. Mother’s Day became an online event with many of us creating posts specially dedicated to our mothers, telling the world how much we love and appreciate our mothers.

We’re creatures driven by capitalism and that became evident in our celebrations as well. Archie’s cards and gifts became the standard way of telling someone how much they mean to us. Gone were handmade cards and cakes and the small gestures that made Mother’s Day what it was. A meaningful holiday was hijacked by modern corporatisation.

The sentiment behind Mother’s Day lost its real value.  While everyone likes a little indulgence, it’s a universally known fact that giving someone your time and undivided attention is everyone’s favourite love language. Specially when it comes to Indian mothers, nothing makes them happier than their children saving money.

We must pause and reflect on how and why Mother’s Day originated and it’s significant impact on highlighting reproductive labour and community care. Anna Jarvis can be credited for campaigning for celebrating motherhood. Jarvis started this in 1905 after the death of her own mother, an activist and community leader who cared for wounded soldiers during the U.S. Civil War. Jarvis constantly strived for US to recognise Mother’s Day as a national holiday to provide dignity to the labour undertaken by caretakers, which were primarily mothers.

The real idea behind Mother’s day is dignifying the effort and labour that a mother puts into taking care of her children and her home, instead of dismissing it as her ‘duty‘.

Here are some ways in which you can actually create a difference in your mother’s life:

  1. SPEND TIME TOGETHER: It’s easy to get carried away by life and the innumerable responsibilities it brings us but we must consciously make an effort to put a stop to the madness at times, take a step back and simply go back to where we came from. Spend time with your mother, ask her how her day was, listen to her and tell her something about your life. Conversations like these count the most not just on Mother’s Day but everyday. 
  1. PREPARE MEALS FOR HER: Though one can never beat their mom’s cooking, our mothers love a break from their kitchen and own cooking. With the lockdown turning many of us into chefs in our own right, prepare a meal that you think she’d love. Try something different; something that she doesn’t know how to cook or makes on the regular. Make this a weekly activity. 
  1. HAVE A  VIRTUAL GAME NIGHTS RITUAL: Yes, yes, we know that you’d kill if you had to spend an extra hour on Zoom. But for those who are away from their mothers this is a perfect idea. Rope in your family members and play a quiz on ‘Who- Knows-Mom-the-Best’ this Mother’s Day. To keep things fun, you can switch the games every week.  Mothers sure will love the attention and get a bit teary-eyed even on how much we remember about her in detail. For those of you who are with their mothers currently, bring out the good old board games and have a family night. 
  1. TAKE AN ONLINE COOKING CLASS: With a virtual cooking class, the entire family can pitch in for her Mother’s Day brunch or dinner. If your mother enjoys these, take these classes every once in a while, so that both of you can learn something new. 
  1. MAKE HER TRY SOMETHING NEW: Chances are your mom has always wanted to do something but is probably too shy to try it out or has put it off for for the longest while due to work and responsibilities. It might be dance, music, an art form, cooking or something else. Help her get over that shyness and embrace learning. 
  1. BE HER TECH GURU: Mothers get lonelier as we get more and more involved in our lives. Don’t lose patience with them as they struggle with their phones and figuring out the internet. Just as we maintain most of our connections through the virtual world, our parents also seek comfort through technology. 
  1. TELL HER HOW MUCH YOU LOVE HER: Expressing emotions can be a battle for a lot of us. Even though we love people, we find it hard to just say it. But this Mother’s Day, break this pattern. Go hug your mom and actually tell her how much she means to you. It might get awkward, it will also lead to a few tears surely but it’ll be worth it. 

As we grow and become older, life takes over and we slowly get lost in the great scheme of things. But, we mustn’t forget that for our mothers and even for our children, we’re the most important people. Celebrating and cherishing these relationships is not just necessary but a lot of fun, as we discover something new each time, not just in them but also in us. 

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5 Times Children Said the Wrong Things at the Wrong Time

If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve experienced this- when your children have no filter and go about happily saying the absolute wrong thing at the wrong time. It is a time when you wish the ground would just swallow you up! So here are some of the times when mums have implored mother earth to just take them into her fold! (*all names have been changed to protect further embarrassment of a mother, who has possibly never lived these down!)

When we had the talk about the birds and the bees

So, I was giving the little one, all of 3, a shower, and of course, we just had to play the body parts game. And being the worrywart that I am, I decided to have the Safe-unsafe; touch conversation with him. Which included telling him the names of all his body parts, including the private ones. That evening, an elderly relative of the husband’s visited us, and our wonderfully chatty boy decided to introduce himself – and his body parts to her. Imagine my mortification when I return with the chai and find the boy engrossed in telling her all about his ‘Pee-niss’ (because it’s where we pee from, apparently). Sigh. I don’t think I’ve seen that aunty visit our house again.
– *Neha

When they heard the one word in the movie they’re not supposed to

You know, how in the old day, before Netflix and Hotstar, we used to have movie channels? (yes, my children think it very quaint now.) well, when the younger one was learning to talk,
I just happened to put on a movie. It was a very funny movie, with a very ironic scene (you’ll know why in a bit), where the baby learns a very naughty word that they’re not supposed to. I chuckle. The husband and mother-in-law walk in. ‘What are you watching?’ they ask. ‘Meet the…’ I say. “Faulker’. Baby completes. Grinning. And just in case we didn’t hear it the first times, repeats it in increasingly loud volumes: ‘Faulker! Faulker!! FAULKER!!!’.
– *Bidya

When they had a fashion show for our guests

My son and his cousin are quite close in age and love playing together. So, at a rather large family gathering at ours, it wasn’t a surprise to see them running around, playing, plotting and conspiring. After dinner, as we were settling down rather comfortably in the living room, the boy and his cousin declare that they will now entertain us with a ‘fashion show’. Of course, we love the idea and clapped very enthusiastically. The kids disappear ‘Backstage’ – which was my bedroom, with instructions to their dad to play a particular song. As the beat of the song picks up, with all of us clapping, my son and his cousin re-appear. Dressed in my raciest lingerie. Leopard print thongs, cut-out bras… the works! And strut about with it in from of all the relatives. There was shocked silence for a second… followed by peals and peals of laughter. This is now part of family legend, retold to every new daughter-in-law joining the family!
– *Fariya

Also look up: Teaching Children Discipline in a Joint Family

When we were nearly arrested for child trafficking

We were on our annual trip to visit my in-laws. And my son loves his grandparents. After spending two whole wonderful weeks with them, it was time to head back home. But our son wouldn’t hear of it. So we booked a late-night flight. We put him to bed and picked up the sleeping child and headed to the flight. We knew that he’d throw a fit if he was awake and wouldn’t come. It was all great until we reached the immigration counter. My son woke up with all the noise and saw that we were leaving. He immediate started wailing – and screamed out in English ‘You’re NOT MY MUMMA AND DADDA. Help! I want to go back!’ We were immediately surrounded by a lot of officious looking people, who wanted to question us, and take my boy away from his ‘kidnappers’. It took us a good half an hour to convince them that we really were his parents, and we almost missed our flight!
– *Rosalind

When death threats were issued to my boss!

I’m a working mom. So after I put my daughter to bed, I usually check my emails and messages and respond to them on the phone. One evening, after my daughter fell asleep, I went to the bathroom leaving my phone by the bedside. When I return, to my horror, my daughter was awake and was busy pressing buttons on my phone! I quickly look at the messages and thanks to autocorrect and predictive text, she’s sent this to my boss: Ha. Die. With kiss.
Thankfully, my boss has children too, and took it in the right spirit! But I’m taking my phone to the bathroom with me the next time!
– *Sunanda

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Are You Raising Your Child In A Sexist Household?

We spot various forms of sexism in our everyday lives. We’re quick to roll our eyes at the prejudiced comments made by politicians on national television or by well-meaning relatives and friends at social gatherings. We blame the government for pink tax and express our concern over the rising cases of domestic violence and sexual assault against women. We complain how men dominate professional spaces and the pay disparity between men and women. Sexism makes its presence clearly visible in the way society perceives females. They’re labelled as the weaker sex, who are in constant need of protection and this protection comes at the cost of submission.

But, have we taken a moment to reflect on where sexism begins? Where are roles and responsibilities for men and women demarcated? Where are we taught what is okay for a boy or for a girl? And, who ever decided what was masculine and feminine? The answer is simple; at home. 

What are we teaching them?

From the very beginning of our lives, right from childhood, we experience sexism through the manner in which we’re raised. A girl and a boy might have the same set of parents, but the treatment they receive from those parents can drastically differ from each other. From restrictions on clothing to different curfews, it is evident that what is okay for a boy can never be okay for a girl. Sexism plants its roots through the most subtle manner; we’re taught to use gender as an insult.

Restrictions are set on our emotional outlets because it’s not fine to ‘cry like a girl’ or ‘be rowdy like a boy’. Sexism decides which activities one can enjoy – girls cannot play cricket or football like boys to reduce the risks of injuries or getting tanned under the sun. And, boys definitely cannot enjoy cooking or dancing or playing dress-up! If the boys miss a shot, the standard rebuke is to ‘not play like a girl’. Girls are taught to smile because they’ll look prettier. An while boys get away with anger, they’re are not allowed to show empathy and sensitivity. 

Also read: Quick Breakfast Recipes you can make with your Child

We decide the clothes, books and movies children should enjoy.  Right from the start, boys and girls are taught that the worst thing they can do is act like the gender opposite to them. This begets the toxic cycle of disrespect and contempt for the other gender. 

Children learn best through examples and they’re quick to adapt to the pattern around them. A boy who is raised in a household where only the mother manages all the chores will assume that it is normal for households to function solely on a woman’s effort. A girl might worry that this could be the future she’s in store for. Similarly, a household where the needs of the patriarch are prioritised might indicate to children that the needs of a man are more important than the needs of a woman. Even the ways in which parents interact at home sets the tone for future relationships that their children build. 

What can parents do?  
  • Communication is key to change. Having frank, open communication will lead to your children unlearning stereotypes and will feel comfortable enough to share their views with you. It’s always a good idea to learn something new.  
  • Encourage your children to follow their passion, whether or not it fits the boundaries of gender. Join them in activities that bring them fun. This will lead to a stronger bond between you and your children. 
  • Set an example. If it’s possible, try dividing the workload between you and your spouse to show your child that household chores are not just a woman’s job. 
  • Do not engage in regressive content on social media or on television. Stop laughing at sexist jokes. These things have a significant impression on the child’s mind. 

In our attempt to raise our children in the norms that are acceptable by society, we stifle the growth of our children. Allow them to explore beyond the stereotypical gender preferences that are set for them. Our role as parents is to inspire and encourage children to be who they want to be. It may take a lot of time to unlearn the narrative that has been fed to us over and over, but through simple changes, the society can be made a safer space for women. We can create a future where it is okay for individuals to be who they want to be without the fear of crossing the boundaries of being masculine and feminine. 

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6 TRADITIONAL INDIAN FOODS THAT ARE PACKED OF NUTRITION

In the recent years, traditional Indian foods have taken a backseat with fast foods, fad diets and fusion cuisines. However, Indian food is not just rich in diversity but also in nutrition.  With a wide variety of grains, oils, vegetables , spices and nuts, Indian foods are a powerhouse of essential nutrients that support immunity, brain function, gut health and reduce inflammation.It’s important for children to imbibe the values of eating local and seasonal and appreciate one of the key extensions of their culture i.e. food.

Include these six traditional Indian foods in your child’s diet to make their meals a lot more nutritious, wholesome and healthy-

  1. Buttermilk: There is a popular misconception that buttermilk is high in fat but buttermilk is actually very low in calories. Buttermilk prevents dehydration, reduces acidity and prevents indigestion. It is rich in calcium and reduces blood pressure. 
  1. Idli: Easily one of the healthiest Indian snacks at just 39 calories per piece, idli contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Being a fermented food, it supports gut health. It will also help your child stay full for longer as it is rich in fibre and protein. 
  1. Cheelas (Savoury Indian pancakes):  Mad out of chickpea flour and various lentils, cheelas gluten free and a good source of protein. An excellent source of complex carbohydrates accompanied with a low glycemic index, these savoury pancakes help in maintaining a healthy metabolism. 
  1. Khichdi: Made with rice and lentils, this traditional Indian dish is packed with dietary fibre, antioxidants and protein. It’s gluten free and easy on the digestive system.
  1. Poha: An Indian breakfast favourite, poha makes for a gluten-free meal option. Loaded with iron and fibre, it is low in calories and regulates blood sugar levels. 
  1. Upma: Prepared using semolina (sooji), a  bowl of upma has fiber, vitamins, and healthy fats. It is low in cholesterol and calories, while being high in iron. 

It’s time we bid goodbye to myths suggesting Indian food is only limited to deep fried, fattening food and appreciate the innumerable healthy options our cuisine offers us by introducing them in our daily meals. 

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How to Have An Argument With Your Child – And Still Win at Parenting!

Let’s be honest – before we had children, we all had this idea of how they’d be perfect angels. And of course, not one of those ideas included you getting into daily arguments with your child. Never did you anticipate that asking your child to do something as simple as brushing their teeth could devolve into World War 3. Parent-child arguments are one of the biggest causes of stress for both you and your child, and often sets the tone of your relationship with your child in the future.

Strong-willed children are great!

Take heart, having a strong-willed child may seem like a lot of work – but with the right kind of nurturing they turn out to be grounded, not swayed by peer pressure and possess great leadership skills. Strong-willed children don’t accept the status quo and want to try things out for themselves. That’s why they are constantly testing their boundaries by questioning you. So how can you set boundaries for your child without coming off as authoritarian? How can an argument with your child turn into a life lesson that they take to heart?

Common argumentative fallacies

When we argue, we let emotions get the better of us – that’s natural. Everything about our children tends to make us emotional. But when we want to make our point, let’s watch out for and steer clear of these common fallacies:

Attacking the person, rather and the idea

Often, when we’re asking our children to do something, it sounds like we’re finding faults. Let’s identify the behaviour that we have an issue with, rather than the person. For example, if you walk into your child’s room and it looks like a bomb went off in there, instead of saying ‘You’re always so messy’, we could try, ‘This room looks quite messy, how about you tidy it up a bit?’. Not calling the child messy, or disobedient, or lazy, but calling out the act, or behaviour will help you get your message across, without it becoming an argument because your child doesn’t feel like it’s a personal attack!

Exaggerating the problem and attacking it

We’ve all been guilty of it. ‘You’re on the screen forever!’ ‘You never want to eat what I make.’ ‘You’re always playing, you need to be serious about your exams.’ Well, that’s not really true, is it? Children need you to break down the issue to a more immediate timeline. So if screen time is an issue today, or now, just state that ‘You’ve been playing for a long time on the screen today. I think that’s enough.’ 

Building improbable consequences to a small action

Let’s not kid ourselves – not eating vegetables for a meal is not going to give us debilitating conditions. Not doing the homework today is not going to make your child drop out of university. So we stick to the facts when stating our point – ‘If you’re going to continue not doing your homework, chances are, you’re not going to be prepared when they test you on this. That’s not what we want, is it?’ This stop is from becoming an argument where your child fails to see the point of what you’re asking them to do.

The either-or situation

‘You’re not sharing your chocolate with your brother. Do you not love him?’ This tells the child that there are only two options – either love my brother and share or hate my brother and not share. But in reality, she may love her brother very dearly, but just not want to share. Just, ‘I would like it very much if you shared that with your brother.’ is enough. If she’s still unwilling to share, maybe explaining how sharing helps strengthen bonds.

Because I said so

Sometimes we do tire of arguing with our pint-sized humans and resort to this. And yes, as adults, we would know more and are able to judge a situation better. But that’s why it is important to explain to them why your viewpoint isn’t just because you’re the adult, and they are the children. Back it up with rationale – it’s also a great way to build the logical reasoning of your child. 

What you can say so the children listen
  • Acknowledge their feelings: Children like us will have their own likes and dislikes. It’s okay to occasionally indulge in fantasies with them. ‘You really don’t like this daal, huh? I wish we would eat ice cream for every meal, and still be super-healthy! *sigh*’  (you might like to read: What is Journaling and how can it help? )
  • Engage cooperation: give factual information, without exaggeration ‘We need to brush our teeth because…’, rather than ‘All our teeth will fall out and the dentist will drill painful holes!’
  • Express your feelings without attacking your child’s character: ‘I felt really upset when you said that’ or ‘It makes me really sad to see both of you fighting’. 
  • Explain the consequences: Every action will have consequences. Calmly explaining the consequences, and following through on them, without anger or annoyance will help your child understand boundaries. ‘If you keep running over your tv time, we will have to reduce it by 10 minutes tomorrow. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.’
  • Sit with your child and figure out a solution together: If you’re unhappy with a situation, it’s fairly certain that your child isn’t too thrilled either. Sit together and jot down all the ideas you can come up with (yes, even the silly ones) and decide the best way forward together. 

Your child will feel empowered to take control of their actions, especially if they know that they have your love. Even though you may disagree, you can air your differences, talk through your problems and figure out a way together. These skills of negotiation, reasoning and emotional intelligence will build on their ability to navigate the world confidently as adults with you as their role models for conflict resolution

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5 WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD WITH AUTISM

Today marks the fourteenth annual World Autism Awareness Day, that is April 2, 2021.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.It is estimated that worldwide one in 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder. 

Recognized internationally, the World Autism Day began as a movement to spread awareness about the autism spectrum disorder. Autism-Friendly events and educational activities take place throughout April, aiming to increase understanding of autism.

While there is still a great need to inform people about autism, the focus has shifted away from simply making people aware that the disorder exists  towards the world coming together to offer love, acceptance, support and inclusivity to children and adults with autism.  A day alone isn’t enough to extend our compassion and support. 

Here are five ways in which you can support your child with autism and make their life easier:

  1. RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS:  early detection and intervention with treatment and services are essential to improve a child’s development and functionality for a lifetime. This can be done with the help of identifying common signs and symptoms of Autism, which include:
  • Persistent repetition of words or actions
  • Difficulty in social interaction
  • Low attention span 
  • Poor eye contact 
  • Delayed speech  
  • Intense interest in a limited number of things 
  • Not responding to their name

It is also important to remember that autism does not present itself in the same manner in every child. 

  1. COMMUNICATION IS KEY: Children with autism tend to communicate differently as they often get fixated on certain phrases and keep repeating them. Gently redirecting them to the next topic might work. They also avoid eye contact.  Patience is a must to build a bond. Talking about things they like can help the conversation move along smoothly. Children with autism can also be quite literal when expressing their needs. These need to be addressed politely. 
  1. BEING AWARE OF THE CHALLENGES:  Children with ASD are highly sensitive to touch, sound, light, taste, and smell. Steering clear of noise and bright colours can help create a soothing environment for them  and avoid sensory overload. They are also not comfortable with the concept of physical affection and like to maintain personal boundaries. Creating healthy space and distance while communicating with a child with autism can help create a positive environment.
  1. CELEBRATING YOUR CHILD’S STRENGTHS: Celebrating the strengths of your children can instill confidence in them and help them face their challenges without feeling low. These may include exceptional honesty, punctuality, attention to detail, ability to remember things in a precise manner. Some children may excel in academics and be able to learn through visual memory. 
  1. DIFFERENTIATED LEARNING: Children with autism possess an excellent memory and respond better to visual learning aids rather than plain text. It is important to include a lot of pictures while helping them learn. It is also important to find an environment or school that is best suited for your child’s needs. Look for a school that is inclusive and has the required support staff to help your child thrive. 

Given the prevalence and complexity of autism, it’s important to be aware of ways you can support children that are dealing with the condition; to help them overcome obstacles. Don’t be shy about seeking the right kind of support for your child – and yourself. It is important to understand that although autistic children may have a different way of perceiving the world, the more we accept the differences, the easier it is for them to integrate into society. 

Also read: Dyscalculia – Does your child have it? Signs to look out for

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5 Simple Changes for a Sustainable Future

Today, over half a billion children live in extremely high flood & drought occurrence zones. Research has shown that climate change will increase the frequency of droughts, floods and severe weather events. Severe weather events can disrupt infrastructure critical to children’s well-being, including schools, health facilities and transport. Droughts and flooding destroy crops, disrupt water systems and contaminate water reserves.

Despite having gained substantial importance over the recent years, the concept of sustainability isn’t as widely implemented as it is discussed. Sustainable living is nothing but reducing one’s use of Earth’s natural resources to maintain ecological balance. It advocates not creating excessive waste and prioritizing the use of natural resources.  Sustainable living is crucial to our future generations so that they can live comfortably without being subjected to ecological and economic problems. If we do not limit our consumption patterns, our children might face increased pollution levels and remain bereft of a healthy standard of living. 

Change starts at home, no matter how small it is. Our children are the future and to make the world a healthier, happier place to live in, we must educate our children on the significance of sustainable living. Here are five easy ways in which you and your children can start your journey to a sustainable future:

Reusable over Disposable

Instead of buying plastic water bottles or using paper cups every time you travel or go out for a movie, ask your children to carry their own metallic water bottles or sippers. This greatly reduces their consumption of plastic and paper. What’s more, you won’t have to constantly keep worrying about water hygiene. Being sustainable in this case also turns out to be far more economical.

Every drop counts

Encourage your children to switch off the tap while brushing their teeth or washing their hands. Have them switch to using a bucket for having a bath, or, if using a shower, time yourself, so you’re not spending too much time under it. Reuse the water from your RO filters for mopping the floor or watering your plants or washing your clothes. Water scarcity is going to be a very real problem that our children might face in the not-too-distant future.

Waste not, want not.

Serve small portions of food on plates. This helps children gauge if they’re truly hungry before serving themselves a second portion, and we can avoid food wastage. This is also a wonderful way to introduce our children to where we source our food from, and the many advantages of going local. A sustainable future is one were we try and reduce our carbon footprint!

Conserving Energy

Right from an early age, instil the habit of switching off the lights and fans when not in use. Open the blinds in your own room to let natural light in the morning instead of switching on electric lights. Your children will follow suit. Look up sustainable and renewable sources of energy to switch to, where you can. 

Grow a green thumb

Children love watching things grow and the sense of accomplishment they feel when they’re the reason behind it is unbeatable! If you have the space to maintain a small vegetable garden, why don’t you give it a go? It also works as a fun activity to bond with your children while caring for the environment

Less is more

This one can be slightly tricky as who doesn’t want everything? But, encouraging your children to use resources that they have judiciously is the way to be. Have them use their art supplies, stationery and clothes responsibly. We can set examples ourselves by buying the things that we truly need, rather than those we truly want. Even small changes, like waiting until an occasion, or until your old phone breaks down to buy that new gadget you’ve been eyeing, will make a positive difference. Teaching your children about delayed gratification has proven to have many benefits as well. 

With minor lifestyle changes, we can create a major difference in the health of our planet and the quality of lives of our future generations. Are there any changes that you’ve made to your lifestyle that we can all incorporate? Tell us in the comments below!

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Let’s Make Holi the Festival of Consent This Year!

The weather in the country is slowly but surely turning hotter. The last of the winter chill has disappeared. It can only mean one thing – Holi is around the corner! The festival of colour, of joy, signalling the start of the spring-summer season in our country.

My children love this festival – it allows them to run around gleefully in the society compound throwing colour and be as messy as possible. Sounds like fun, right? But there’s a worrying side to Holi that I’m becoming increasingly aware of, especially as the children grow older. The matter of consent. 

Why does this bother me?

Perhaps it’s because I am a mother to both, a son and a daughter, that I feel it very keenly when every year I read painful newspaper stories about children, women, and men having their consent violated when people around them forcibly apply colour or throw water on them. I’m sure you recall having read them too. I worry about my daughter (and even my son) being touched without her permission. To those who call it ‘harmless fun’ and ‘bura na maano holi hai, I ask you this: Don’t we teach our children about boundaries the rest of the year? Do we not insist that their body is their own and should be respected? So, what message are we sending to the children when we deliberately violate someone’s consent so we can have fun? 

There’s another group of innocent, voiceless victims who suffer the most during our festivities: It’s the poor street animals. It’s not uncommon at all to spot a helpless, scared-looking blue-and-pink dog streaking past you the day after Holi. These colours, laden with chemicals, were not meant to be used on animal fur or even human skin. But unlike us, these animals can’t hop into a shower and scrub themselves clean. So it’s our job to protect them and keep them safe! 

My kind of Holi

So what does it mean for us to celebrate a Holi that’s both fun and respectful? Here are a few things I’m going to ask my children to follow. I hope they help you set fun, respectful boundaries for your own family too! 

Always ask!

It takes literally just a couple of seconds to ask for permission, but just think of how respected and valued it will make the person feel! It doesn’t matter who it is — children, friends, elders, or family members. Always ask for consent before pulling someone into your celebrations. Learning about consent and agency starts in small ways right from childhood, after all! 

Learn to accept ‘no’ gracefully

It’s our turn to ‘bura na maano’ when someone doesn’t feel comfortable with having colour, water, or anything else applied to them. If they say colour is okay, but water isn’t, do as they ask. If they want to play with only organic colours, respect their wishes, the way you would want someone to respect yours. Let’s learn to live and let live.

Ask if they’re okay with you applying colour

Just because someone is okay with your friend or relative (or a total stranger) applying colour to them, does not mean they’re giving blanket consent to everyone to come into physical contact. So permission needs to be asked, even if they’ve said yes to someone else already. Think of it like this- just because you’ve said okay to go out for coffee with a friend, does not mean you’re okay to go out for coffee with your friend’s friend, or their cousin. 

Watch out for the animals!

Make sure you’re playing in a place that is away from animals: and if they do wander in, immediately move away so they do not get drenched in colour. It can be very harmful for them, and it’s our job to protect them! 

Make your festivities inclusive

Holi is meant to be a festival that includes everyone of all abilities and from all backgrounds. Let’s get our community involved in making sure we create a safe space for all. 

Let’s be eco-friendly

Only about 3% of the earth’s water is freshwater. Out of which 2% is locked up in ice and glaciers. Having a water-free Holi only seems logical in the face of these statistics. 

You may also like: Tips to Raise an Environment-Loving Child

Holi may have many mythological stories attached to it – but the predominant feeling through it all is one of joy and celebration. I’m going to make sure my celebrations don’t dampen anyone else’s joy. Have a happy, safe, and consent-ful Holi! 

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Talking to your Child About Sex Education

It’s the talk most of us probably dread. And feel most uncomfortable about – the talk about the ‘birds and the bees’ with our children. Even saying ‘sex-education’ out loud makes many of us squirm uncomfortably. So, of course, we try to avoid the conversation or hope that schools take care of it, or push it to a later date. 

But here’s the issue. Children are naturally curious. They won’t stop asking questions. If you give them unsatisfactory answers or avoid the question, they will simply stop asking you any questions. And will look for other sources. Often these sources are their friends – who are possible as clueless as them or have been ill-informed by an older sibling. Worse still is if they choose to look for answers on that wonderful fount of all knowledge- Google! They may stumble upon sites that aren’t exactly family-friendly. So, it’s time to bite the bullet and have that talk. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

It’s not one major talk

Contrary to what we might think, it’s never just that one talk that you have with children. It will be an ongoing series. You might give some information to your children. And they might go off and not have any questions. But a couple of days later, when you least expect it, they might spring a question on you about what you’d discussed. But the key is to have all of those discussions so that the information they receive is accurate. The amount of information that your need to give can vary on the age of your child. And there’s no age that’s too young to start talking. 

Information you can give toddlers and very young children

At this age, we only need to make sure that children know the right names for their private parts. Don’t give them vague names – you can mention that these parts are your private parts, but give them the correct names. This is also important for children to protect themselves from unsafe touches and for them to be able to tell you if something is making them uncomfortable. 

Information you can give primary school-going children

Children at this age may be more curious – some of their friends may have a baby sister or brother and they will be curious about where babies come from. ‘How does the baby get into the mummy’s tummy?’ ‘Will the baby hurt the mummy when they cut open the tummy to take the baby out?’ We can answer these questions accurately – but without going into too much detail. For example, we can say that the baby is created in the womb when the sperm and egg meet. 

We don’t need to go into further detail. You know your child best, so giving information based on the maturity and understanding of your child is what will work. If your child is asking questions that you think they aren’t ready for, you can always tell them, ‘Let’s get back to this when you’re a bit older- for now, here’s what you need to know:…’

Information for tweens 

This might be the time to talk to children about puberty, menstruation, the changes they can expect in their bodies, and that all these changes are normal and natural. It is also important to address their emotions which might be undergoing some upheaval. Now is the time to set some ground rules for safety around their interactions – with themselves, with others and both offline and online. Start talking about consent early, and as an essential part of their sex education. 

Conversation with teens

Teenagers will want to have a conversation with you – not advice (even though you think they need it sorely). So keep the lines of communication open. Talk about your experiences, let them come and ask you questions. Let the conversation flow naturally about forming emotional bonds, respect, consent and everything in between. When conversing with teens, we tend to sprinkle our conversation with ‘don’ts’. Let’s throw in the occasions, ‘do’ – what they need to be aware of, how it can be difficult to navigate the world of social media, the temptation to gain popularity, peer pressure, and a whole lot else. They may not like to show it, but teenagers still seek their parents’ approval. Fear of disapproval might push them into silence or hiding things from you. Conversations about morning erections and how birth control works doesn’t mean that your teen is going to immediately run out to try all of these things. It means that they feel comfortable and safe enough to have these awkward conversations with you, knowing that they will get answers. Well, done, parent!

The more we normalise conversations like these in our homes, the more confident we can be that our children will not indulge in reckless and unsafe behaviour when it comes to sex. Some conversations may be more difficult to have than others- but they will be infinitely more rewarding when you see the bond you share with your children strengthening and growing stronger.