The Young Worrier

All of us have worries. It is very common amongst children. Here are few strategies that will help you as a parent to know about your child’s worries so that you can manage their fears and anxieties.

Do you have a child who feels too shy or too scared, worries or over-thinks things to face the day? Do you have a child who remains silent when s/he is expected to work with others?  If so, then you might have a worrier in the family.

Clutching her hands, refusing to let go of you, repeatedly complaining of headaches or stomach aches when there are no real reasons —these are a few signs of building anxiety. Look harder and you may find some more significant indicators such as rocking back and forth, hiding, or silently crying in the bathroom before going to school.

Have you ever felt that the workload is too much for you to handle and spent sleepless nights thinking about it, as if everything is on your shoulders. When this happens you have to turn down the volume of your worry channel, so that you can get away for a while.

Same goes for your child, they may easily tend to imagine the worst that could occur based on their fears. Children need to find that switch to make it easier for them. You can teach your child to become resilient and prevent them from tossing same thoughts over and over again.

Here are a few strategies that you can teach your child to tame their troublesome thoughts.

Rest up

It’s vital to teach children to relax in a fun way to relieve their worries. Effective relaxation techniques result in subjective feelings of calmness and emotional stability. You can share your own relaxation technique with your child and help them explore the best suited relaxation skills as per their age and interest.

Distract

This is an age-old technique used by parents and teachers. Removing the focus from things that cause distress. For example, the child could go for walk or cycling.

Move it

Indulging in enjoyable play activity or exercise is a good way to soothe or relieve the proliferation of stress chemicals and release feel good endorphins in children. These feel good chemicals help children become more optimistic about their future.

Can’t see the forest for the trees

Children could easily get preoccupied with minor details and fail to see the entire picture. For instance, a child may fret over getting the perfect letter formation for a class assignment and neglect food or sleep necessary for learning the next day.

Lastly, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Wrestling with self is much harder sometimes than most of the tasks that you do as parents. Some practices or strategies may not have the same effect as you have hoped for. That’s perfectly fine, try something else. Happy parenting!

By PLC Ms Arpita Roy, Doddanekkundi

How to Talk to Children so that they Listen

We are well into the New Year 2019 now. As parents and educators, one of our New Year resolutions should be about spending more time talking to children…especially the school going ones – how to talk to them so that they listen, is what worries us most. This would surely be an intriguing topic for some of us, a non topic for others, but it is nonetheless an important one.

The 21st Century has thrown up many challenges, not the least of them being the problem of face to face communication. With the advent of newer means of technology at our disposal and the proliferation of hand held and portable devices for communication on the rampant increase, personal conversations have become rare occurrences with people resorting to con calls, audio and video chats, SMS and Whatsapp messages as well as connectivity on other social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram. Even official discussions, meetings, seminars and conferences are now being conducted over Skype and Zoom and other such mediums. Hangouts is one of the ways in which the younger generation actually hangs out! In such a scenario, how do parents and teachers connect with children who are more comfortable with online and virtual conversations than the ones in real life? No wonder some of us may feel a sense of disconnect with our children when in their physical company.

The answer does not lie in resorting to messaging or video calling our children and learners but in using the following simple tips to connect with the children who mean the most to us.

When talking to children we should:

  1. Smile and greet our children when we meet them at any time of the day. A smile is a great way to connect and radiate warmth that envelops and cheers up the children. When we say ‘Hello’, or ‘Good Morning’, we will get a reply which can then lead on to the next step as the connection is established. Maybe we can even have our own special ways of greeting our children.
  2. Ask leading to and open ended questions like, ‘So, how was your day?’, ‘What are you thinking about now?’, ‘What is it that I can do for you?’, ‘How have you and your friends been doing in school?’ or even something as simple as, ‘Which subject/time of the day/snack/book/movie do you like the most? And why?’. These can be great conversation starters.
  3. Give ample time to our child/learner. Set aside time for the conversation. Children too, just like us, love to be heard patiently. Let us respect that. Do not try to close conversations in a hurry. Do not raise your voice. Do not keep looking over their shoulders or here and there while talking. Look at the child/learner in their eyes, but do not stare. That would be disconcerting. Though, one should be firm, in a polite and friendly manner, in case the child/learner does not follow the decorum of the conversation.
  4. No matter what turn the conversation takes, let us not forget to smile at times, nod our head, use appropriate, non threatening body language, and most importantly, listen to them when they talk so that they may return the favour when we have something to say.
  5. Speak in a positive, encouraging tone. Instead of asking, ‘Was the test difficult to attempt?’, we should instead ask, ‘Which question in the test did you find the most exciting?’. A statement such as. ’As you haven’t been doing any reading, I don’t think your language will improve!’ could demoralize children and put them off reading. It would be far better to say, ‘Over the holidays you could read this book. It seems to be enjoyable!’.

There are many more ways to make a conversation interesting for children. Let us begin by using these 5 crucial tips which will be most beneficial to us. Let’s begin talking in the way our children would love to listen to us!

Good Parenting

Being the ‘Good’ parent is not so difficult, after all!

From the moment we become parents, we are constantly under pressure to attain the much coveted ‘Good Parent’ title. An idealistic unmeasurable concept that only exists as a notion in our own heads; whose measurement parameters are in the hands of every human we interact – known or stranger.

In many ways our parenting journey is like the Aesop’s fable ‘The Man, His Son and The Donkey’. In our case, the donkey being our parenting style. So, whichever way we lead our donkey we are bound to attract criticism. Here is where the feeling of GUILT comes handy.

Guilt is a feeling of worry or unhappiness that we experience when we have done wrong or have deviated from the set norm. While Guilt is labeled as a negative emotion, for us parents it works in our favour.


This is how guilt helps:

First, I create a list of traits that according to my society and me, a good parent must have. Like, all good mothers, bake cookies and cakes or, to be a good mother I must host trendiest playdates or, good parents sing lullabies each night. Then I assign an implicit under side, which says if I did not host the latest in-trend playdate (so what if trends change every hour) or bake cakes (a take from colonial mommy image) or sing melodious lullabies (despite my sore throat) I am a bad mother.

Now, being a bad mother is not what I wish to be. It is not a feeling I am comfortable with. So, I feel GUILTY. Now I say, “I am a bad mother as I do not bake cakes with my son, but since I feel so guilty about it, I am actually a good mother.” By feeling guilty, what I just did was to allow me keep a high opinion of myself while acting like what I believe was bad. After all, only good conscious individuals feel guilt and remorse for their actions. Is it not? In a way, guilt becomes our saviour.

Most often, the source of these high code of conducts originate from benchmarking with our previous generation, comparing lives over social media, our own upbringing where we have been made to believe in ‘sacrifice all for the sake of children’ kind of parenthood or, in majority cases our beloved Bollywood cinema and television serials.

Going back to our ‘donkey’, just as there is no right or wrong way to deploy the services of this faithful animal except to avoid cruelty, there is no right or wrong way of parenting as long as it stems from trust and love. Each child is different and so is each parent.
Few points from my personal parenting diary that helps me stay sane:

  1. We are unique:Know what is best for my family and accordingly align my expectations from self
  2. One step at a time:Listen to my child to know her immediate needs (at times the need is for attention, at times seeking more freedom and yet at times the need is of being appreciated) and tend to those for that moment
  3. Different is good:Be conscious that my child is not an extension of me but an individual in her own right
  4. Be OK to be wrong: Accept that I am also growing as a parent, just as she is growing as an individual, so we shall both make our own mistakes and that is OK.
  5. Lose control:Remind myself that I am not responsible for fulfilling her dreams, my responsibility ends at being the facilitator.

To quote OSHO, “The function of parents is not to help children grow, they will grow anyways. The function is to help what is already growing.

Oindrila Purohit
Parent of Daanya Purohit
VIBGYOR High – Goregaon, Mumbai