Thursday, 26 May 2016

Identifying and nurturing the gift-area for your child

We were on a study at some schools recently. The project involved understanding parents’ and teachers’ expectations around the learner’s progress. One of the interesting aspects to surface was their query around gifted children. Both parents and teachers had observations but were not sure whether they were doing the right things. This prompted me to write about it and address some of the key aspects around nurturing gifted children.
How does one know that a child is gifted?
Perhaps this is the key question. Here is a starting point. A gifted child is someone who shows consistent signs and instances of being distinctly above average in one of these abilities: intellectual, creative, physical and social. It’s a myth to just look at intellectual and creative abilities in our society, though a gifted child may just not be limited to these two. The key lies in spotting this gift as early as toddler years in some cases. I believe that our true potential is a mix of impetus from nature &nurture.Surroundings perhaps have a defining impact on each child's growth and development, especially from parents in growing years.A gifted child perhaps needs evenmore support and guidance from parents and their teachers to achieve their true potential. Imagine a LataMangeshkar not getting an adequate support and encouragement for grooming her voice right from an early age from her father, siblings and surroundings. Imagine a Sachin not getting the support and mentorship of his brother and coach.
As parents and educators, once you discover that your child is gifted, you need to:

  1. Understand the child's talent, moreover understand the related developmental needs. For e.g. If you have a child asking you questions beyond her usual age, and may be having a tough time answering the child's queries related to patterns or numbers, you may want to read more about workshops, for pattern spotting, Vedic mathematics and so on, rather than shunning the child or avoiding their queries.
  2. Set appropriate expectations from the child. It's a misnomer that a child gifted in one area may be gifted in all areas. In fact, research has shown just the opposite. Children gifted in creative talent may still struggle in social abilities. As educators, we need to guide parentsto understand that different skills may develop at a different rate for the gifted child.
  3. Treat the gifted child and the other children the same. Educators perhaps need to take extra care to ensure that this doesn't create an added pressure for the class; even worse could be damaging another child’s self-esteem. Treat all learners the same. There are ways I shall suggest to nurture the gifted children, which may not translate into treating other learners differently.

How do we nurture the gifted child’s talent? Do we need to seek professional help?

Parents and Educators of gifted children need to be consistent in their behavior and response to the learner’s needs and interests and at the same time stay flexible as thelearner's need change over time. This is easier said than done. Hence, as educators, you may reach out to professionals for specific areas. You may collaborate to create a handholding cum acceleration coaching mechanism for the learner from time to time. Moreover collaborating with parents of gifted children is always a good idea. The following tips may be of help:
  1. Provide the child with opportunities to learn and try new things.Special sessions, meeting guest experts shall add value.
  2. Assort a mix of activities for the learner, so that she has some things to do that he or she finds challenging, as well as some that he or she likes and can do easily. Some of these activities could be in the class and some could even be done back to home.
  3. Encourage the child to participate in a broad range of educational and recreational activities.Lateral thinking exercises may be helpful.
  4. Discuss the child’s gifts with him or her, also with the child’s parents; what it means to be gifted, and help with ways to deal with any difficulties that may arise. Collaboration between the educators and parents can truly help the child achieve her true potential.
  5. Encourage the social skills to enable the child to fit comfortably in his or her social world with other learners. Being gifted is not an excuse for bad behavior

How do we ensure that we don't push or pressurize the child to perform in the process of nurturing? 
Giftedness may bring a number of rewards and difficulties. Here are some “not-to-dos”. Try not to:
  1. Push or apply undue pressure on the child
  2. 'Show-off' the child in public or to the rest of the class
  3. Expect the child to be gifted and talented in all areas of his or her development
  4. Be too 'Top-down' in the class, Talking down to the gifted child
  5. Forget that the gifted child is still a child, and has all the normal needs like other children

Do you give the child special preference or treat him/her different from other kids?
We need to keep reminding parents, that the child may be gifted but is still a child. We also need to coach parents so as to treat their child normally and avoid creating imaginary lines of superiority for both child as well as themselves. This is a mistake, which some parents do and start expecting their child to be gifted in almost all abilities. It’s the biggest disservice and dampener a parent could perhaps provide to their gifted child. Remember, s/he is still a child and has all the normal needs of children, including the need for love, support, stability, routine and fun. Make sure, that you tell parents to always be there for their child.
What role may the preschools and schools play to help such gifted and talented children?
Schools, after parents perhaps play the most important role. Parents and schools may collaborate to do the following to help gifted children and their parents:
  • Fast track: Depending on the giftedness of the child, the school may promote the child to skip some grades and some subjects. Again easier said than done. This requires careful consideration and is best done through researched, tried and tested approaches.
  • Varied difficulty levels: Gifted children could be given a higher order difficulty task, project or worksheet so as to accelerate their learning. This could be done through home assignments or quiz without having to do a separate process as such.
  • Dedicated mentor: A dedicated senior teacher or mentor excited about helping the gifted child, to handhold and answer the child’s queries from time to time. 
  • Cross age tutoring: Getting a mix of age groups in the same class so as to give a varied mix and exposure to the child. This is still not so much tried in our schools, but is fairly effective and tried process in some other countries like Korea, Finland and now in USA.
  • Competitions: This brings out the potential of a gifted child, schools may support, sponsor gifted children to participate in national and international competitions
  • Childhood is a great gift and perhaps as parents, it’s our responsibility to make it fulfilling for our child. Today, in the 21st century, it’s perhaps not just the good grades in school, but a new way of exploring surroundings and learning that shall encourage our gifted children and moreover the gift of childhood.

 (Created by Nitin)

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Ten fun things to do with your teenager this summer

When we talk about the bond between a parent and their teenage child then a whole lot of aspects come into play. The teenager who is now nearly an adult has his/her own opinions and preferences (mostly they are not shy of letting the parents know). The child has gone through many life-changing situations (at least the child believes so) that may have impacted the relationship that a child shares with the parent. Life as we know continues to evolve as each day passes.
While I made a list of things to do with a younger child I also started getting ideas of fun stuff to do with a slightly grown up child. So here goes the list of 10 fun things that you could do with your teenager:
1.Making a Collage:
Where: At Home
Age Group: 12-18 years
Make a collage with your child with cuttings of inspiring words that the child may find in magazines or newspaper. This could then be hung in either the child’s room or the parent’s room reminding of what matters the most.
In cases where the parent child bond is under strain there could be another scenario where the parent and child could together make a set of two collages that displays what one expects of the other. Can you imagine, a collage by a child with words like “ Trust “, “Hurt”, “respect” would really go a long way for a parent to understand the child. While on the other hand when a Parent puts the words like, “ love”, “cleanliness”, “ Responsible” in the collage for the child, the child will get the message without getting into unpleasant arguments. Hanging the collage in the room would remind each what the other expects and may help strengthening the parent child bond.
2.Introduction to Music:
Where: At home; using a computer or just buying a music cd
Age Group: 13-16 years
Music is believed to be a common language; it does not have the definitions of age or time. Introducing your child to your kind of music and appreciating  the music that your child may relate to may give you an insight into your child. You could simply burn a cd together and listen to songs. You could also introduce your child to songs that have inspired you and you never know these could in turn inspire your child through his/her difficult times.
3.Swap Lives for a Day:
Where: Home / in an extra class / in the kitchen
Age: 15- 18 years
Did you not always want your child to know how tough life is and what about the child, the angst is always about how tough it is being a teenager. It could be as simple as the parent taking the child out for grocery shopping followed by a trip to the vegetable market and ending with making dinner for the whole family. One thing you ought to do is be ready to solve those math equations( and fail miserably :-) in some cases), go for the tennis class ( pant halfway through it and collapse... lol) and end the day with a 2 hour phone call about music or clothes.
If nothing else it will be a good reality check and you both may appreciate your own situation more the next time.
4.Painting a Wall:
Where: At home / in the child’s room or the Parent’s room
Age Group: 13-17 years.
Now a day every paint shop had these various different gadgets that one could use to create beautiful patterns on the wall. You may end up killing two birds with one stone, your child’s room may get a makeover and the fun of painting and spending time together would be priceless.
5.Do something that the other one likes:
Where: depends on what your child may come up with
Age Group: 14- 18 years.
You could ask your child of his/ her favorite activity and (even if you do not like, I know of my nephew took his mom to have a day at the paintball arcade… as apprehensive as the mum was to go, though she came back a bit sore but totally ready for round 2 J) do it together and then list one of your favorite activities and do it with your child. It could be something as simple as shopping, running, going to the gym together, cooking or simply cleaning up the attic.
6.Makeovers are always fun:
Where: at the neighborhood salon
Age Group: 14- 18 years.
You could let your child decide your look, be it the haircut or the attire and you could do the same for your child. It will be so much fun to see yourself through your child’s eyes.
7.Movie Date:
Where: At the nearby theater or home with a DVD
Age Group: 12-18 years
Book the tickets or rent a movie, which you thought you would see with your child when the right time came, (since s/he is a teenager) now. Complete the experience with a bowl of popcorn, hot dogs, chips and a lot of fun.
8.Join a Class or Sport together:
Where: depends on the interests of your child.
Age Group: 14 - 18 years
It could be a guitar class or learning to play golf, this may require more than one sitting but doing it together with your child will definitely be an enjoyable experience and strengthen the parent- child bond .
9.Take a Trip: 
Where: Somewhere near (preferably drivable distance)
Age Group: 14 – 18 years
It may be the best idea to bond, the road and the wilderness brings the best out of people. Nature has a calming effect and the time spent just listening to music or chomping on sandwiches will be great for the reconnection of the parent – child bond.
10. Game Night: I Wish / I Want
Where: At Home
Age Group: 12- 16 years
I remember this game that we played when we were younger. It was, “ I wish”/ “I want” game. This usually happened on the terrace on a starry night (Ideally but can be done even in the drawing room or Balcony). Basically the game revolves around what the child and the adult wish and want in an ideal setting, one person starts it and the other has to finish it but either it has to be true or really funny. For example if the child started the game with – “I wish I had a bathtub of Ice cream”, the parent could finish the sentence with, “for you to take a bath in”… (Lets agree it is somewhat funnyJ.)
      Or on a serious note, you could get an insight on what your child longs for and you may get the added edge to do something about it.
      Once again on a very positive and hopeful note I wish you all have a great summer bonding with your children.

(Created by Bhawna)

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Parenting Tips--Teaching your toddler to behave

It is not very easy for a parent to deal with a child who is used to throwing tantrums, or is grumpy or disobedient most of the times. But chiding or scolding the child is also not the solution. Instead it requires behavior modification through non-assertive ways, recognizing and acknowledging the reasons for the behavior and working on it.  Here are some ways that will help a parent deal with this behavior.
Why the Tantrums?
Mostly tantrums are not an intentional behavior, at least initially. It is more of a child’s way of expressing independence and getting heard. It is also a way for the child to express his/her likes and dislikes. The combined affect of this can lead to what is called tantrums. While it starts as an unintentional behaviour trait, soon tantrums become learned behavior where the child uses it as an attention-seeking activity.  This is the point where it breeds trouble.
How to control tantrums:
When it comes to controlling tantrums of a toddler, there are no instant solutions. It is a matter of making the child feel secure and loved.  Here are some ways that might help:
1. One word - LOVE
We all love our children. But how we express our love for them, and how often is what matters. A child should feel he is loved and paid attention too to feel positive and stay away from undesired behavior. Constant positive attention is the key. Throughout the day, regular hugs, kisses and instant appreciation for an activity well done reassures the child. The activity can be as simple as finishing a meal or drinking milk. Frequent admiration can lead to a feeling of joy in the child, motivating him to follow rules.
But keep the appreciation genuine. Children are way more intelligent than we presume them to be and can easily differentiate false appreciation from genuine ones. Where the child does not deserve admiration, hold the applause back with the harsh words. It is  better to give the child strict instructions in a clear, yet non-threatening, gentle way.
2. Recognition
Every child has his own personality traits. As a parent, we need to accept the fact that the child will develop individuality. We should not expect the child to be just like us or behave like an adult, when he or she is just a toddler. Constant criticism or regular checks on activities can lead to doubt and fuel bad behavior in the child. As adults, we need to cherish and cultivate the child’s personality, and help him become more confident. Observe and identify the child’s strength. Find ways to build on that strength. This will reassure the child that he will get heard and appreciated and will not have to resort to yelling, screaming or crying to get his way.
3. Breaking Rules
A toddler is too young for rules. If the child knew the difference, she would not have behaved undesirably in the first place. One way to initiate correct behavior is by minimizing rules at the outset, as too many rules can frustrate the toddler. Before setting out the rules, prioritize what you want  to communicate to the child first/the behaviour you want him to pick up at the go. For a toddler, safety is more important than anything. For example, rather than stopping the child from venturing and exploring the house, baby proof it. And let the child explore.
To say the least, each parent has his own way of dealing with a child but lots of love, genuine appreciation and understanding the child is the first step to get him to listen to you.

I am sure as parents you all must have had parallel experiences and would have encountered such tantrums from your little wonders. Please share how you have dealt with such situations in the comment box. Your inputs are valuable for fellow parents.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

10 Tips To Get Your Child Do Homework

How we wish homework could be fun only if our kids also had a Doremon to help them with their homework! One of the biggest concerns of parents today is getting their child do homework on time and effectively. It’s quite understandable that homework sounds like a big task, uninteresting, and unrelenting, given the little time kids have to play, relax, and entertain themselves in this gadget-led age. Nevertheless, you’ll soon agree that it’s important to stick to a regular homework regime.
If you’re wondering why anyone would want their kids to bury their face again in notebooks and do homework every day, here is why:
5 Reasons Why Homework Is Important:
  • Homework reinforces concepts taught in school
  • Instils self-responsibility
  • Exercises brain and improves concentration
  • Self-discipline, time management, independent thinking and problem-solving
  • Bring a sense of accomplishment and confidence
Now, the big question remains, how to get your child to do homework? Here are some handy tips to encourage him/her:
1) Understand it’s important
Now that we know the benefits of having a regular homework regime, it’s essential that you make it sound appealing to your kid. If you don’t think it’s important, your child will never. Use encouraging words and subtly discuss about how learning helps build a secure future.
2) Stop the negativity
Homework should be fun. Everyday, ask your child what he/she did at school and if he/she has got some exercise sheets to revise it at home. When you discuss homework, show interest and eagerness, and not tension and anxiety. Don’t let your child feel even you hate it. Your yelling, threats, and bribes may work once a while, but create a sense of dislike for homework in your little one. Mind it.
3) Stick to a routine
Instead of pressing the panic button at odd hours about incomplete homework every now and then, devote a fixed time when your child would do homework and ask for your help, if need be. Make a timetable with his/her help and input. Stick it in his/her room. For some, it works well if kids finish their homework before they’re out to play. Sometimes, it makes sense to finish homework and pack the bags before they’re ready for dinner and family time. Whatever it is, make sure you keep a consistent time and routine for homework.
4)  Discuss and set rules
Discuss studies and homework with your child in a positive manner. Set rules like finishing homework on Fridays and having weekends free or having school bags packed before 9 pm on weekdays.
5) Let it be your child’s responsibility, not yours
Many parents create an atmosphere where they accept that homework is their responsibility—they just want their child to write and finish off work. It’s time to change the game! Empower your child to take responsibility for his/her homework and project work. Let him/her tell you what’s to be done, what is required, by when he/she should be able to complete it, and if he/she wants to do it independently—without your constant supervision and nagging. Gradually, kids will learn to own the responsibility of their homework.
6) Get the basics in place
Give your child thoughtful gifts like an exciting study table, good stationery, art items, calculator (if required), dictionary, or table-clock, etc. Be prepared when he/she has project work. Ensure that he/she isn’t short of any items to complete the work. Make sure the room is well-lit and without any distractions. For older kids, a computer and printer may be essential. Provide good nourishment and teach them time management.
7) Be a comforter and a facilitator
Encourage your child to work on his/her own. Improve his/her concentration and critical-thinking skills. Understand your child’s challenges. Be there only when he/she needs you. However, let him/her know for sure that you care and are proud of his/her self-discipline. Encourage your kid to involve you or inform you about the homework progress and any interesting learning he/she acquires. Share a moment in between, instigate laughter, and ease off the pressure. Better check if he/she needs help of the elder sibling or tutor.
8) Share tips, make it fun
Tell your kid to do the difficult part with your help first and then he/she can quickly finish the easy part when he/she is tired. Give him/her tips to remember spellings and how to form spellings by breaking the words. Tell your child how cursive writing can lend speed. Create jingles or thumb rules if telling something repeatedly doesn’t help. For example, to teach your child vowels, create a jingle including letters a, e, i, o, u! Teach your kid cutting-pasting, taking a print-out, and make sure he/she picks up the skills to do it on his/her own the next time.
9) Fix Rewards
Give your child some incentive if he/she does homework responsibly throughout the week. Reward with exciting games and fun time complete with praise and pat on the back. Tell your kid you’re proud of him/her for being proactive, organised, and responsible. Tell the world—your friends and family—about your child’s love for studying, reading, etc. Chances are your kid will never let you down. Understand what motivates him/her. Reward with extra time for television, outdoor play, or more games and storytelling session with grandparents!
10) Hard work is the key
Preach hard work. Explain to your kid the meaning of idioms and proverbs like ‘practice makes a man perfect,’ ‘stitch in time saves nine,’ etc. Tell him/her that to become successful and a genius, there’s no escaping from hard work. Homework will keep coming back. So better do it every day. Remind your child about the consequence of not completing his/her homework. He/she surely wouldn’t want to be the odd one in the class. While your child is working hard at completing homework or studies, ensure that you do your homework—house chores, cooking, readying bed, reading, research on topics he/she wants help with, ironing school uniform, etc. Show him/her you’re hardworking as well!
Want to share tips for getting your child to do homework or studies? Write in the ‘Comments’ below!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

How to talk to your child about sex- Useful Inputs from Parents

How to talk to your child about sex
Some of the questions asked by a curious child?
“Is the baby coming out right now?”
“Did she eat the baby, how it got stuck in her tummy?”
“How will it come out through mouth or poop?”
Some of the comments by an older child who thought they know it all.
(Situation: a bunch of children exchanging information on how babies are made)
“You know what, when papa kisses mom, babies are formed.”

“No, you are wrong. God gifts babies. When my Mama and Papa wanted to have me, they went to the temple, kneeled down and asked God to give them a baby. God immediately blessed them with me. “
“You all know nothing. My mom told me, she got me from TARGET store in Australia. If I don't behave well she will return me to them as they have this offer. See I behave so nicely and so should you all.”
“I will have a baby girl too. I will ask the doctor to unzip my tummy and let the baby walk out. She will look like my Barbie doll. I will dress her up all in pink from head to toe.”
These were some of the snippets of narratives we heard from our little EXPERTS, who had their own understanding of a baby’s birth. 
When we shared the children’s understanding of birth of a baby with few mothers, they were all dumbfounded with one question, “When and how should I tell my child about sex?”
We all had our experiences to share where we were bombarded with questions, or given surprises (shock to be precise) sometimes at the most inopportune times. A friend shared that once her daughter dressed up with all make up, jewelry on supposedly like a bride and demanded that I make arrangements so that she could get married with her father. Another friend confessed how she and her hubby had to face embarrassing questions earlier too. Once her 5-year-old son wanted to know “If daddy has a penis too and why it becomes so hard at times?”
We all agreed to this, it becomes quite awkward to answer a child’s questions relating to private body parts and sex. It has always been a point of discussion when should kids know about sex, how, and how as parents can we teach our children about sex. The following points can be considered:

1. Sex is not a taboo: A child needs to know the answers to questions pertaining to sex without being made to realize that talking about it is embarrassing or a taboo. If we adults would keep on blushing and avoiding discussions on these issues, chances are they would make their own understanding of sex based on what they see on television or collect from age mates or other sources which could be inaccurate and misleading in the longer run.
2. Telling in their language: Children need not be told actual mechanics of sex, as the purpose is not to frighten them. In age appropriate, simple language, which is not overloading or overwhelming. We could answer their questions using correct names, rather than popular euphemisms, for private body parts. Keep sex education age appropriate.
3. A child can ask a question anytime: If your child creates an embarrassing situation for you by asking questions at the inopportune time, try not to snap, or put her off. Handle the situation carefully by saying, “You have asked a very good question. I would answer the same while we are on our way back home.” Try and answer the question at the time you mentioned so that it does not give the sense to child that she has done something bad by asking you this question.
4. It’s an ongoing conversation, not a one-time thing: The discussion need not be restricted to one particular day. It should be more of an unfolding process wherein we can use everyday opportunities say when you went to the zoo and your child watches a goat delivering a baby or when you were traveling in a train and your child sees a mother nursing her baby and demands to know what is happening. Keep the language and references age appropriate. 
5. Private body parts: Teach the child about private body parts and about good touch and bad touch. Also they need to know exploring private parts is not OK to do in public and should be done in private.

Answering children's questions on sex in an age-appropriate way and straightforward manner than avoiding the discussion would foster healthy feelings about sex. The message should be conveyed in such a manner that it does not connote sex as a “shameful act”. There are age-appropriate books dealing with this subject that can be helpful.
To put it together, here are a few examples that will help parents teach their child about sex:

1) Body parts: A vagina or a penis need not be called a wee wee or a pee pee but use the exact words (when a child observes it on another child)or refer it to as diaper area for a pre-schooler. Call breasts as breasts not as two stomach moms have. (Generally appropriate and asked by a child between 2-3 years). 
2) What is sex: Try explaining that it a physical form of love that grown-ups like mumma and papa share with each other. (Generally asked by and appropriate for children between the ages of 7-9 years)
3) Where does a baby come from: From either the space in between mum’s legs (an older child who understand body parts can be told vagina) or when a doctor operates. Till such time you were inside mummas uterus (Generally asked by and appropriate for children between the ages of 2-5 years)
4) Why do you/older sibling have hair down there: Nature has designed it in a way to protect our soft body parts. Like eyebrows to protect eyes, underarm hair to protect the soft underarm area, similarly hair here protects your private part.
5) About menstruation/periods: Every month, mumma’s body makes an egg and the body prepares to receive that egg by generating enough blood and tissue for it. But if the egg doesn’t turn into a baby, all the blood and tissue is let out from the body and that causes menstruation or periods. Specify that it is a very natural process and nothing to get afraid or disgusted by and that a boy child needs to respect it too. (Generally asked by and appropriate for children between the ages of 5-7 years)
6) What is rape or sexual abuse: Rape or sexual abuse is when someone touches a private part of your body without your permission or in a way which makes you not like it. This also includes kissing on the mouth. You can ask the person to stop it and scream out for help. (Generally asked by and appropriate for children between the ages of 2-7 years)

I am sure as parents you all must have had parallel experiences and would have encountered similar questions from your little wonders. Please share how you have dealt with such situations. Your inputs are valuable for fellow parents.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

How to say No to a child

‘’NO’’ is a word which can be said without any effort, quick on the lips and can be said without a thought. It is a power packed word and is certainly an under rated one in a parent-child relationship. It is one of the words I have heard most toddlers before they even learn to talk. I am guilty of saying No when it is convenient and often without thinking from my child’s perspective. There have been times when both children simultaneously decide to throw tantrums especially in a public place and in between all the commotion parents lose their cool, their ability to think straight and instead of trying to calmly handle the situation, parents have been guilty of saying no to everything children say.
So, how do we say No to our child?
How to give in to their demands?
Aarti, mother to 7 year old Vicky, exclaims, ‘my son goes out of control when we visit the mall. He throws a fit and we end up giving in to his wishes by buying him a new toy just to save us from embarrassment. Now he has thousands of toys which he doesn’t play with. How do we handle his outbursts?’
This kind of a question is very common. Parents often give in to their children’s demands just to quieten the child and save the parents from embarrassment in public. This behavior often starts young and if parents give into the tantrums even once, the child takes it as a guaranteed tactic, which will work each time. If such a situation arises in a public place, the following tips could come in handy:

  • Offer solutions or alternatives: Tell your child that if he/she stops the fit, then you could go and have an ice cream or go to the park later in the day. Offering alternatives or having a few options wherein your child can choose what he/she would like to do instead will help control the situation and also help your child to look forward to something else. A direct No is not a good solution as it does not help your child to think positively.
  • Listen and discuss calmly: We can easily get side tracked with our idea of not giving into the child’s demands but sometimes, listening and explaining to your child, may help to manage the situation by coming to a consensual solution.
  • Explain beforehand: Before reaching the public place, you may explain to your child what you expect from him/her. You may list out the do’s and dont’s and ask your child to repeat them. My friend have one of these sessions with her children each time they plan to step out and also remind them on the way. Now they are very used to the rules and if at all they decide to play up, a gentle reminder helps them stay calm, thankfully.

Help your child understand what kind of behavior is expected and why.

Little children cannot distinguish the right behavior from the wrong. All they know is how to behave based on past experiences. Hence, sitting down with your child and explaining why they should not expect a toy/chocolate/candies/gifts or stay at their friend’s place after an evening of playing together will help them understand your point of view. Your child may also share his/her feelings. This is a great way to get started on positive communication and changing any negative behavior.

Do you always have to stay firm? When to give in?

In a situation when your child is throwing a fit, you know what you should do, but the easier way out is to give in. But as we know that giving in is not the best solution for the long run. We don’t have to be strict and firm all the time as this may create a fear among the child and he/she may be afraid to share their thoughts. Helping your child understand what is expected and if he/she does as told over a few instances, you may give in to your child’s wish for playing that extra 10 minutes, or having that remote controlled car. But again, the child needs to understand that he/she got to stay longer at the park because they listened and did as expected over the last week. Giving in to their wishes should be like a reward. This will only motivate them to listen to you and tantrums will gradually be a thing of the past.

How do I ensure consistency from the other members of the family?

Shalini’s 6 year old wants to be fed and watch her favourite cartoon at mealtimes. Shalini is not in favour of this habit and wants her daughter Nikita to eat at the dinner table and without any distraction. But mealtimes become a battlefield as Shalini refuses to give into Nikita’s demand of sitting in the sofa and being fed. Unfortunately, Nikita’s grandmother intervenes as she does not like to see her cry. So every evening, Nikita is fed by her grandmother with her eyes glued to the television. This has created a friction between Shalini and her mother-in-law and Nikita has found a way to get what she wants.
This is a very common scenario and we all have faced it sometime or the other. They best solution is to have a chat with the other members of the family and convey what, as a parent, you think should be done. Hear out their views but gently draw a line and take control of certain situations. For instance, Shalini and her mother-in-law can come to a conclusion of allowing her to watch cartoons after dinner and her mom in law can feed Nikita at the dinner table if they so wish. It is important to have consistency from all the members of the family.

Be a role model.

If you want your child to behave in a certain way, it is important for us to behave appropriately for them to be able to follow and pick up the right behaviour. For instance, Ankita have a rule of no chocolates after 6 pm in her family. Once her daughter caught her eating a piece of chocolate just before dinner and questioned her on it. Guilty and worse, caught red handed, she apologised and immediately told her that it will not happen again. Surprisingly, her apology made quite an impact on her daughter and she does apologize too each time she makes a mistake. She could easily say that she is her mother and can do what she want or ignore her completely, but that would not set a good example and she would most certainly have the same behavior back from her daughter. So as parents, we should try to be humble and behave in a manner to set an example to our child.

Tips to handle an outburst and to manage the public eye:

1. Don’t shout: Scolding or shouting will only agitate your child and will wind you up. Keep calm instead.

2. Don’t try and reason with your child when he/she is in the middle of an outburst: Your child is most likely to take every word you say negatively when at the peak of the tantrum. So let the storm pass before you think of talking to your child. Go to a quieter place to help your child get over his/her emotions.

3. Anticipate and prevent trigger factors: The big trigger factors for outbursts are hunger, tiredness or boredom. Carry snacks along, leave at a time when your child is not likely to be tired, for example, after a nap; if your child is bored of walking around in the mall, take him/he outdoors for some fresh air, or go to the play area for a few minutes to help them get over the boredom.

4. Don’t get physical with your child: Sometimes parents get overwhelmed and can raise hands on their child. It is common among parents with older children, who talk back and ignore the parent completely. It is easy to get the frustration out with a few slaps but in the end what we are teaching the child is to handle an angry situation with aggression.

5. Keep calm: It used to be a nightmare for most of us to take both our children out to the play area or the supermarket. Either one would throw a fit or the other would follow suit. We , on a couple of occasions, let our anger take over and have either shouted at them, grit our teeth, or freeze up completely. Well, with each instance we need to realize what we were doing was wrong. We need to stay calm instead and talk to them once the tantrum gets over. Staying calm and consistent are the key in diffusing any heated situation.

6. Give consequences for bad behavior: Good behavior should be rewarded and bad behavior should have consequences. If your child decides to play up, then you may warn him/her that there will be, for example, no T.V time if they continue with the behavior. If the warning does not work, then the child does not get to watch T.V for a day or two, depending on the severity of the behavior. It is important to stick to the consequence and follow it through as told to the child; else he/she will know that mummy or daddy will never follow through and that they are just empty threats.

7. Signal your child: You may convey to your child that there will be a change in the activity in 5 minutes. For instance, if you would like to return home from the park and your child wants to play a little longer, instead of upsetting them by taking them away without a warning, you may instead signal by saying that we will leave for home in another 10 minutes. This way the child will have some time to wind up with the playing, say bye to his/her friends also more importantly, be prepared to leave without a fight.

8. ‘Bye bye’: Babies and toddlers love to experiment and anything can become a toy. You may find your child playing with the bottle of perfume. It is of course necessary to take it from the child right away, but if you snatch it out from your child’s hand, it will only upset him/her and result in a temper tantrum. Instead gently tell your child that it is time to say bye bye to the perfume and let him/her put it up on the shelf. It is very likely that the bottle of perfume will get a few kisses and a long good bye. This trick always works with my two year old. Even phrases like good night and see you later work. If your child still throws a fit, divert his/her attention to another activity. It is likely that he/she will forget about the perfume in no time.

9. Pocket money: To avoid your child from crying for a new toy each time you step out, you may get a little piggy bank and encourage him/her to save some money. Once there is enough money to buy the toy, your child can have it. This will also teach them the value of money and gives them a sense of independence.

10. Do not avoid a situation: Roshni does not take her daughter to the mall as she cannot handle the child’s behavior. The 2 year old pulls out clothes, shoes, toys and throws them around. It is a nightmare for Roshni. She has not taken her daughter to any store for about 4 months now and does not intend to do it anytime soon. What I would say works, on the contrary, is taking your child out and facing the situation together. Explaining the rules, what is expected from them and gentle reminders will show their results even though the first few trips may feel like a complete failure of efforts. Children learn very quickly and if faced with similar circumstances, they will know what is expected and behave accordingly.

"While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about." - 
Angela Schwindt