Making way for ‘special time’

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 7

Special Time is a adaptation of ‘Quality Time’ that we all would like to spend with our child. The below article outlines how you can do it.

Read more : How to Special Time

Thought for Today:

When can you make time for ‘special time’ during the day?

What can you do during that time?

How – For younger toddlers, the child-led method that’s suggested would have to be slightly modified,

Use the next few days to try different things and let us know how you’re doing ‘special time’ between you and your child?

NEXT

We’ll delve deeper into the next need for raising a HAPPIE Toddler i.e. POWER.

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Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit
Day 3 : Meeting your toddler’s physical needs
Day 4: Identifying your own triggers before you tend to your child’s
Day 5: Dealing with feelings of guilt & inadequacy (Moms!)
Day 6: Attention v/s Connection Parenting
Day 7: Ways to connect with your Toddler

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Ways to connect with your toddler

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 7

Continuing our focus on Attention & Connection to raise a HAPPIE Toddler.

Pam Leo, Author of Connection Parenting defines:
Connection as ‘Feeling loved & listened to’, and
Disconnection as ‘Feeling hurt & unheard’.

She says – Provide children with a consistent, loving connection through eye contact, loving touch, respect, listening, and spending time working and playing together.

We’ll use these definitions as a compass throughout our discussions on ‘Connecting with our Toddler’. It sounds pretty simple, isn’t it?

To put it even more simply, you can connect with your child by offering them your undivided time (for listening, playing…) and undivided attention (through eye contact, your loving touch…)

Many a times, thanks to our crazy schedules, work load and other stress, we try to give our kids our time and attention, but often it’s not UNDIVIDED. We’re interrupted by mails or messages or our own wandering thoughts about incomplete tasks and what’s next on our to-do-list.

You’d know how annoying it is when you’re speaking to your spouse, and they keep checking their phone! Do you feel loved, listened to & connected when that happens? Well, imagine the same with your child.

Today, I’d like to explore with you some simple ways in which you can connect with your child. All of the below suggestions are simple things which can help you build trust & connect with your child, IF you couple it with UNDIVIDED TIME & ATTENTION.

  1. Your kid’s daily chores : Brushing, bathing, feeding time, nap time which we often frown upon due to the struggle they often are – can actually be great opportunities to connect if you can infuse some fun in them.
  2. Your daily chores : Cooking, Drying clothes, Dusting are some activities where toddlers love to ‘help’. Including them in safe ways not only helps your child feel involved and loved, but is also a great learning opportunity for them.
  3. Reading & Storytelling : While most toddlers might not show great interest at first due to their short attention spans, being consistent and interesting in your methods can go a long way in instilling creativity and a love for books and reading from an early age. Plus the touch, warmth, glances & time you share during the process creates deep bonds over time.
  4. Play : Play is the ‘work’ of childhood. Play for connection, Play for learning & teaching, child-led play, adult-led / guided play – there are many forms of play, which we’ll try to delve deeper into in future posts. Fun & Play can be infused in about anything and everything you do with your child, and you’ll find yourself magically connecting and bonding!

In short, anything that includes smiles, laughs, giggles, hugs and cuddles – are all ways to fill your child’s cup with connection & meet their need positively so that they don’t have to seek attention through negative behaviors.

Thought for Today:

What are some things you and your child enjoy doing together that involves smiles, laughs, giggles, hugs and cuddles?

If you’d like to add some connection rituals, which of the above suggestions would you like to start experimenting with?

NEXT:

We’ll learn about ‘special time’ and how you can incorporate that in your day or week to connect deeply in a short span of time.

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Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit
Day 3 : Meeting your toddler’s physical needs
Day 4: Identifying your own triggers before you tend to your child’s
Day 5: Dealing with feelings of guilt & inadequacy (Moms!)
Day 6: Attention v/s Connection Parenting

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Attention v/s Connection Parenting

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 6

This week, we begin our focus on the next need in line – to raise a HAPPIE Toddler – and that’s the need for Attention / Connection.

Now, though I used both the words synonymously, I’d like to begin with dissecting how different these words are and what they mean for your toddler.

Going simply by the dictionary definition of both:
ATTENTION :
* notice taken of someone or something;
* the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important.
* the action of dealing with or taking special care of someone or something.

CONNECTION:
* a relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something/someone else.
* a relation of personal intimacy (as of family ties)

Well, it seems like I can just stop here! It’s so clear, isn’t it!?

Attention is something that anybody can offer, it’s about taking notice of something as important, and taking the necessary action. The need for attention can be fulfilled quickly, with little effort.

But, Connection – is much deeper, and it marks and arises out of the intimate relationship you share with the person, and it’s not something that can happen overnight or in an instant.

A simpler analogy to understand connection would be the idea of ‘soulmates’. We’ve all dreamed of finding our ‘soulmate’ and marrying that person, haven’t we? Someone who could understand us, even when we said nothing! Someone who could see through our eyes, into our hearts and know what we wanted. Haven’t we craved for that kind of connection!? Well, been there.. done that!

What I realized (as I grew older and wiser) was that – there’s no one who’s born as my soulmate, but I can become someone’s soulmate (and vice versa) by trying each day, to understand, to be and to do the best I can!

What if, each day, we work towards becoming our child’s soulmate, and understanding his/her said and unsaid needs!

Our toddlers (and humans, in general) crave for connection. Seeking attention is just one of the ways in which they’re communicating their deeper need for connection.

For today, I’d just like you to mull over this.

Thought for Today

On a scale of 1 to 10 (One being the minimum) –
How would you rate the attention you are giving your child every day?
How would you rate the connection you feel with your child every day?

TOMORROW:

We’ll begin looking at ‘connection rituals’ you can establish in your day in short spurts of time.

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Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit
Day 3 : Meeting your toddler’s physical needs
Day 4: Identifying your own triggers before you tend to your child’s
Day 5: Dealing with feelings of guilt & inadequacy (Moms!)

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Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 1

This week, we’re focusing on the most basic and fundamental human need : Health / Physical well-being.

Note that I said ‘human’ need, and not just ‘toddler’ need.

After caring for our infant for a year, we have become experts in judging and providing for our child’s physical needs like hunger, thirst, sleep, sickness, teething, need to pee/ poop, need to be clean after pee/poop … an endless list.

Our expertise continued even as our infant turned into a toddler, and we can still effortlessly identify and fulfill their physical needs.

But, during the 1 year of infancy, we also progressively lost the ability to sense & care for our OWN physical needs –

  • Losing sleep for several nights back to back
  • Skipping meals to make space for our kids needs, needs of everyone else in the family, office work and household chores
  • ME-time is non-existent
  • Working at full potential even during our own sickness & weakness.

These are just a few scenarios where we’ve so easily forgotten to cater to our OWN need for PHYSICAL WELL-BEING, while ensuring that for our child and family members.

I know, we feel good about being able to do so much for our loved ones; but:

  • How many times have you felt sorry for being so self-sacrificial?
  • How many times have you missed your long-forgotten hobbies?
  • How many times have you wished you had some more time to yourself?
  • Worst of all, how many times have you lost it (because of stress / tiredness) and taken out your frustration on your child by yelling / hitting, and then feeling guilty about it?

Here’s what we need to remember :

When a needy person comes to us for help, can we help that person if our own pockets are empty?

When your child becomes clingy / throws a tantrum – that’s your child asking for help. But if you are completely drained mentally, physically & emotionally – will you be able to offer help to your child in a meaningful way?

THOUGHT for TODAY

  1. Are you WELL – physically / mentally / emotionally – everyday, so that you can cater to your child’s needs in your BEST capacity?
  2. If not, how do you think it’s affecting the way you care for your child, and deal with his/her needs?
  3. Tell us, ONE thing that you’d like to do – which takes only 15 mins – DAILY – that can help you stay WELL – physically, mentally, emotionally.

TOMORROW

How you can fulfill your child’s needs better – by making A HABIT of self-love and self-care – (Point 3 above), so that your child experiences the BEST of you – EVERYDAY!

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Access Previous Days In This Series:

Day 0

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Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

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DAY 0

Hello & Welcome to my Thought Series on ‘Raising a HAPPIE Toddler’.

Starting today, we embark on a journey to understand our toddler’s unsaid needs and learn how to fulfill them consistently, in the best way possible.

All humans have a set of needs. As long as these needs are met, we feel content. However, if a crucial need remains unfulfilled for a reasonable period of time – we will SEEK to fulfil the need, by hook or by crook.

As parents, we never realized how our little baby who was content as long as his need for food, water, sleep, warmth (& a clean diaper) was met, turned into a little ‘human’, soon after her 1st birthday. We never realized how his needs expanded much beyond the physical realm. Well, even if we did, it was difficult to know for sure what our little tot was ‘SEEKING’.

This series is to help every parent here – understand your toddler’s unsaid needs, so that she does not have to SEEK them through negative / undesirable behavior.

Unmet needs lead to undesirable behavior.

As a Toddler Mom myself, I decided to delve deeper into understanding ‘UNIVERSAL HUMAN NEEDS’ and finally arrived at SIX of them.

Health | Attention (Connection) | Power | Predictability | Inclusion (Participation) | Evolution (Progress)

Fulfilling these needs consistently, makes a Toddler HAPPIE!

(I have seen that 1st hand)

How did I arrive at these SIX out of a massive list of documented ‘Universal Human Needs’?

  • These SIX are relevant to a Toddler’s life.
  • These SIX encompass several other smaller needs from the ‘Universal list’.
  • Parents report behavioral issues when one or more of these needs are unmet for reasonably long periods, often because they never realized the need.

Today, I want you to mull over this list of ‘UNIVERSAL HUMAN NEEDS’ – image below:

THOUGHT for TODAY

Do you think there are more needs from this list that are relevant for a toddler – other than:

Health | Attention (Connection) | Power | Predictability | Inclusion (Participation) | Evolution (Progress)

TOMORROW:

We begin with the 1st need : Health / Physical well being, and explore how it is relevant & valuable for both the parent & the child.

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11 Parenting Lessons from an Unexpected Source

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Recently, I started reading this book called ‘The Gardener and The Carpenter’ by Alison Gopnik, and she opened my eyes to a different paradigm of parenting.

Somehow, deep inside, I knew there was something amiss with how we approach parenting nowadays – as parents, we are always so concerned, so competitive, so full of guilt – as we constantly try to make our kids smart, independent, empathetic, responsible and successful.

I had started to wonder – are we taking this responsibility of bringing up a child, more seriously than we should. It seemed as if the job was much easier for our parents. Are we really helping our kids by being overly concerned about them and their future? That’s when I struck gold with these words by Alison Gopnik. I quote –

“To Parent – is not actually a verb, not a form of work, and it isn’t and shouldn’t be directed toward the goal of sculpting a child into a particular kind of adult. Instead, to be a parent—to care for a child—is to be part of a profound and unique human relationship, to engage in a particular kind of love. Love doesn’t have goals or benchmarks or blueprints, but it does have a purpose. The purpose is not to change the people we love, but to give them what they need to thrive. Love’s purpose is not to shape our beloved’s destiny, but to help them shape their own. It isn’t to show them the way, but to help them find a path for themselves, even if the path they take isn’t one we would choose ourselves, or even one we would choose for them.”

In simpler words, she says – “Our job as parents is not to make a particular kind of child. Instead, our job is to provide a protected space of love, safety, and stability in which children of many unpredictable kinds can flourish.”

Alison Gopnik

When I read this last line – I couldn’t help but wonder, isn’t that what mothers do when we are pregnant with a little life within us? –  Provide a protected space of Love, Safety and Stability, where the little one can peacefully flourish, the way it is meant to be.

And this little thought snowballed into 11 Parenting Lessons that, I believe, God is giving us through ‘pregnancy’ – because, you know, the internet wasn’t there a million years ago – and God knew these innocent parents would need some lessons!!

As you read through these lessons, I’d urge you to think – are we making our Parenting Journey tougher and more complicated than what it was meant to be?

  1. Replicate the Oath of Pregnancy

The moment any mother realizes that she’s pregnant – she secretly whispers a little oath to the life within her – “I promise to take care of you, keep you safe and provide for you in the best way that I can.” As Alison Gopnik points out, that’s mainly what is expected of you even when the baby is out – to provide a safe space to flourish. Never does a mother proclaim – “Baby, now that I have you, I will make sure you come out as the most successful, confident, empathetic baby ever!”

  1. Replicate the Prayer of Pregnancy

All through those 9 months of pregnancy, every mother has just one prayer – “God, boy or girl, I don’t care much – just let the baby be healthy and perfectly fine.” Beyond the grades, degrees, medals and fancy jobs that you wish your kids will have as they grow, isn’t their physical, mental and emotional health most precious to you!? Let’s not forget that, when we knowingly or unknowingly put the burden of our expectations on our kids.

  1. Resist the urge to micromanage, there’s very little you can do about the final outcome anyway.

During my pregnancy, I used to wonder, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a transparent belly, so we could monitor the baby every moment.” When I finally had my little daughter, I realised what a boon it was to NOT have to monitor your baby every moment. But of course, other than infancy and toddlerhood, where we might want to be more careful than sorry – it is best to slowly release our clutches and resist the urge to micromanage – should I send him for dance or for chess or for both? Should he be doing Commerce or Arts? Because ….

  1. Most kids turn out perfectly fine, all the time.

There are millions of sperms and eggs fertilizing perfectly, dividing and multiplying the way they should to form the head, the fingers, the toes, the heart and the nose – to ultimately deliver a perfectly fine baby at the end of 9 months. Despite the jitters and anxiousness that every pregnant mother experiences, we know, that does not help the final outcome in any way. So, let’s keep unnecessary worries out of parenting too. Just like in pregnancy, periodic checks with necessary corrective measures is usually enough. So, choose your battles, worry only about the choices and decisions that are truly meaningful – that’s a mantra to live by.

  1. Every journey is unique and so is every child.

While I was in labour (which eventually lasted for 36 hours), each time my gynaec would come to check, I would ask, “When will this end?”, and she would say with a straight face – “I can’t really say, every pregnancy is unique.” While at that point in time, I could have smashed her nose – now, I realise how true that is about parenting as well. The sooner you acknowledge that you are on a UNIQUE journey with your UNIQUE children, the easier it will be for you to get out of the trap of unnecessary comparison & competition, and give yourself a whole lot of peace.

  1. The bond you share with your child matters most – ABOVE ALL

You haven’t seen this little being yet, but you ‘know’ her. The moment you laid your eyes on your little baby for the very 1st time, you felt as if you’ve known her for aeons. That’s the BOND you share with your child. While infancy & intimacy go hand in hand – as years progress – the distance between us and our child gradually & sadly increases – physically as well as emotionally. As parents, while we are busy trying to do the best we can for our kids, trying to MAKE them the best – let’s not forget – when all is said and done, what you will cherish is not the accomplishments, but the memories and the relationship you share with your beloved child. Let this end goal govern all your parenting decisions.

  1. There are a million things happening to that little life on a daily basis.

During my pregnancy, I had subscribed for weekly updates on what the baby looks like and its developments. What a joy it was to know about those tiny little fingers and toes developing, just like it was so enjoyable as my little one achieved those milestones every month during the 1st year. If we think deeply though, for all of these visible changes to happen – there has to a million things that are going on inside their little bodies and brains. And it continues for several years after birth till they reach adulthood. Being aware of this fact, will help us have a little more empathy and patience in dealing with our kids through their tantrums, tempers and rebellion.

  1. Your well-being matters a LOT

Every pregnant mother knows that her baby’s health depends a lot on her own health. Not just the physical health, but mothers are also extra careful about their thoughts, actions and emotions during those 9 months. However, as years go by, mothers slowly forget that their physical, mental and emotional well-being still has an impact on their child. If you’ve slept only for 4 hours, haven’t had your lunch, and now your toddler is screaming his lungs out for a candy – most likely, you will end up hitting your child and then feel sorry about it. Self-love and self-care will not only help you be nicer to your kids when they need you most, but it will also set a good example for them when they are in the same position. Just like you’d ask for help if you had to carry a heavy shopping bag in your 9th month, even later in your parenting journey, remember to ask for help, and take all the help you get! It is worthwhile to know ‘there’s no trophy at the end’!

  1. A few slip-ups are OK!

It’s ok if you had a burger in your 4th month, and that you couldn’t resist the pani-puri in your 9th month – your baby still came out fine, the guilt was unnecessary! Similarly, a few missteps, taken unknowingly once in a while, during your parenting journey – can be pardoned. Your child will not hate you all his life, just because you happened to miss his annual day program. Give yourself permission to fail once in a while, we all are learning as we go! Guilt isn’t good for you or your child. You are a good parent, because you are trying your best, everyday!

  1. The ‘kicks’ are a part of the journey

Remember, how those tiny kicks you experienced during the 4th month turned into somersaults by the 9th month? You didn’t complain, did you? Because, you knew those kicks were not only enjoyable, but also a proof of life. In parenthood, let’s say your kids tantrums, mischief and rebellion are the ‘kicks’ – let’s accept them as a part of the package. Let’s cherish them too, because it won’t last for long. Let’s learn how to take those kicks in our stride, just like you had devised ways to sit through those somersaults during pregnancy.

  1. You have to ‘Let Go’ someday

As much as you little baby enjoys the safe space you provided her with for 9 months, she can’t stay there forever. She must enter a new world that awaits with new possibilities, wonders and challenges. And as much as you would want your little baby to grow up, yet remain small enough to fit in your arms – you have to ‘let go’ someday. Like Alison Gopnik says, “Our adult children are and should be foreigners – inhabitants of the future.”

We can pat ourselves for having done a good job as a parent – if our kids grow up to be able to masterfully deal with the inevitable and unpredictable changes that face them in the future. That would be our TROPHY!

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Does praise really help your child?

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A lot of us have grown up hearing, “Good Boy!” or “Good Girl” for every thing we did right as a child. Think about that for a moment, go back to those memories when you were either trying to do things right, so that you could hear those words from your parents again and again, or when you were constantly trying to prove them wrong, a time when those two words felt more like a burden than praise.

Personally, I have been in both situations. For instance, as I was growing up, I remember my Mom would tell people that I was ‘very organised’, my cupboards and shelves were always clean and in order. I guess I felt good about it, and continued the good work till I could. Slowly, life got busier, and cupboards and shelves got messier. And each time, I saw the chaos in my wardrobe, I remember thinking to myself, “How you’ve changed! You are no longer that ‘organised’ girl you were.” Clearly, that ‘title/tag’ which was conferred upon me as ‘praise’ had now become a burden.

Parents love praising their kids, thinking that it makes their child happy and more confident. Parents feel that praising helps reinforce the positive behaviour, but in actuality praise may result in tension and misbehaviour.

The child often looks up to the parent to know more about herself, till the time she feels completely self-aware, which might happen much into adulthood. So, praise that evaluates the child’s character or personality – like “You’re such a good boy, You’re so smart and kind…” – works in 2 ways.

One – the child accepts these words, and tries to live up to it her whole life! If you are someone who did that or is still doing that as an adult today, you know how much pressure that is!

The other way such evaluative praise works is that the child may totally repel the praise, if it does not match the image and expectation the child has about herself. Parents may often find that just after praising their child for good behaviour, they often start to act wild or misbehave to disprove the praise. For instance, when you say, “You’re such a wonderful daughter.” – your child might feel, “Oh! I am not that great, I’m so far from being wonderful.” If she feels unable to live up to this label, instead of fearfully waiting to be exposed, she may decide to lessen the burden immediately through a tantrum or misbehaviour, just so that you don’t carry such a high opinion of her that is difficult for her to match or live up to.

I am sure, as a parent, you never thought so deeply about the harmless phrase we so often tell our kids!

So then, should we not praise our children?

According to renowned psychologist, Dr. Haim Ginott – the single most important rule is that PRAISE DEAL ONLY WITH CHILDREN’S EFFORTS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS, not with their character or personality. Words of praise should mirror for the child a realistic picture of her accomplishments, not a distorted image of her personality.

Because I could never explain this better than the psychologist himself, I am including a short excerpt from his book – Between Parent and Child.

Praise consists of two parts: what we say to children and what they in turn say to themselves.

Our words should state clearly what we like and appreciate about their effort, help, work, consideration, creation, or accomplishments. Our words should be framed so that a child will almost inevitably draw from them a realistic conclusion about his / her personality. Our words should be like a magic canvas upon which children cannot help but paint a positive picture of themselves.

Sounds like a lot of work, right! Well, it is until you make it a habit. As parents, we will need to learn a new language if we want to connect meaningfully with our children, and not merely speak. With a little bit of conscious effort and practice, it is not difficult to nail the art of praising our kids in a way that is not burdensome or unknowingly hurtful, but in a way that enhances our child’s perception about him/herself.

Here’s a sample conversation from the book – Between Parent & Child:

Kenny, age eight, helped his father fix up the basement. In the process, he had to move heavy furniture.

Father: The workbench is so heavy. It is hard to move.

Kenny (with pride): But I did it.

Father: It takes a lot of strength.

Kenny (flexing his muscles): I am strong.

Helping our child arrive at such positive ‘I AM’ statements is what our praise much do. In this example, Kenny’s father commented on the difficulty of the task, and Kenny himself arrived at the inference about his personal strength.

On the other hand, had Kenny’s father served the inference on a platter by saying, “Wow, you are so strong!”, it is possible that Kenny would have retorted saying, “Not really, there are so many boys in class who are stronger than me.” Not only would his father’s praise invite an unwanted argument, but it would end up making Kenny feel sad even after what he had accomplished.

Psychologists say that it is not unusual for children who are praised for being smart to become less likely to take on challenging learning tasks since they do not want to risk their high standing. In contrast, when children are praised for their efforts, they become more persistent in difficult tasks.

Well, the book gives a whole bunch of such examples, let me try a few myself –

Instead of saying, “You are such a good painter”, I can say, “It looks like you put a lot of time and effort into making that painting so beautiful.”

Instead of saying, “You are so smart” (after winning a game of chess), I can say, “I really enjoyed watching you think through each move carefully.”

I am determined to slowly hone this skill of praising positively, by being specific and descriptive in my praise, helping my child infer her own capabilities, rather than evaluating and delivering my judgement on her personality and character.

Children do not like to be evaluated (just like adults!). Imagine how you feel during your appraisals at work, you don’t feel loved, do you! Evaluative praise, however unknowingly, feels the same way.

Being specific and descriptive in our praise definitely requires some effort and practice.

To make it simpler, I have been practising 2 simple phrases with my little toddler that does the job!

For every thing she does right, for every instruction she chooses to follow, and every time I have the urge to say, “Good girl”, I just choose to say – VERY GOOD or THANK YOU! That’s how I show her my appreciation for her work, efforts or action. Occasionally then, I describe to her the actions that I so truly appreciate.

For instance, if I ask her to pack all her toys back into the cupboard and she chooses to do it; I first say ‘Thank you’, and then while she is around, I describe to her Dad how she ‘carefully packed all her toys back into the cupboard and helped clean the room’. I feel so good about saying it, I can imagine how proud she must feel herself, hearing me say it!

Well, till the time I master the art of praise that is descriptive of efforts rather than evaluative of character/personality, I’ll manage with these two phrases, and so can you! 😉

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Are we raising kids with these 7 skills needed in the 21st century?

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“85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet and 65% of children starting school now would one day hold jobs that do not exist as of now.”

If you are a parent, does this statistic scare you?

Well, I am a mom to a two-year old and the first time I read this – I felt really tensed. I had heard of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, and from what I understood the world of the FUTURE is going to be very different from what it is today. Technology is going to develop faster and faster, making the devices and technology of today completely obsolete.

I am not really sure if our schools that haven’t changed their pedagogies since decades, barring a few improvisations in the new curricula like IB, IG, ICSE – can be solely entrusted with this grave task of preparing our kids for the FUTURE. I am not really sure if schools are equipped yet to prepare our kids for THE FUTURE.

All of these thoughts just kept making me more and more worried about what to do. Like every parent, I want the best for my daughter. I want her to become a kind, independent and intelligent person capable of doing things for herself and for the world, as she grows up.

But, can I take things into my own hands, and offer her the education she needs?

That’s when a sea of information gushed across my face – there are so many different approaches to raising kids and educating them – hundreds and thousands of activities that we can do with them to enhance their physical, cognitive, emotional and language skills!! And that’s when I realized what a daunting task, I had taken up for myself!

One day, while I was sitting, thinking about ‘this huge burden’ I had brought upon myself by challenging school education – the words of Stephen Covey struck me –

“Begin with the end in mind”

So, I thought what does the end or the future look like. All I know is that the future of my kids is going to be very different from my present. The circumstances will be very different, which I cannot predict or control. What I can do, however, is to help my daughter develop certain values and skills that will help her survive and prosper in any kind of future. That is, I must work from the inside-out! Now that sounded like a plan, something doable!

But again, what values and skills will prepare her best for the unknown future?

While I was mulling over this conundrum, I came across this amazing video – a TEDx talk by Dr. Laura Jana – And I felt I got my starting point!!

While there’s a whole lot of resources available online to tell you about the milestones our kids must achieve at each age, after watching this video – I was able to gain a more macro-level perspective on what skills I must aim at imbibing in my child so that I know I did my best to prepare her for THE FUTURE.

So, if I had to share in a nutshell what Dr. Laura Jana so powerfully yet simply shares in her TEDx talk – here’s what it is:

skills kids need in 21st century

The Skills our kids will need in the 21st century along with a few thoughts for us to ponder upon:

ME skills: these skills are everything our kids will need for Self-management like self-awareness, self-regulation, self-control over their emotions & behaviour, attention, focus.

In our times of excess and abundance, how can we best inculcate self-control and self-regulation in our kids? In this age of Youtube, Google and Social Media, when our own attention spans have reduced to a few minutes, what can we do to help our kids have better attention & focus?

WE skills: These are the people skills that allows kids to understand, share and “play well” with others using their language, empathy, listening.

These skills will be necessary for effective communication, collaboration and teamwork just like we see in our own workplaces today.

WHY skills: Most of us who’ve been close to kids when they’re around 3-5 years of age, know that this is the time when they question everything – much to the displeasure of poor adults who are expected to be equipped with all the answers.

This tells us that kids are wired for questioning, curiosity and inquisitiveness – skills which will be required to solve the problems of the future, let’s not beat that out of kids with our efforts to educate and discipline them.

WHAT IF skills: Coupled with WHY skills which help kids understand how the world works, WHAT IF skills encompass imagination, and creativity that allows them to envision how the world could be.

Can we join our kids in cooking up imaginative alternate worlds with superheroes where anything is possible?

WILL skills: As parents, we can do all we can but ultimately, self-motivation and drive including a can-do attitude, determination, persistence and perseverance is what will help our kids create and live their own future.

My grand-dad had a favourite quote – You can take the horse to the water but you cannot force it to drink.

WIGGLE skills: Physical and intellectual restlessness which has been shown as one of the key characteristics of all great men of our times, make up the WIGGLE skills.

Now, that’s good reason for us to let our kids be a little restless, and not tie them down to the chair or get them checked for ADD.

WOBBLE skills: We’ve seen those toys that wobble when hit, but they don’t fall down. Wobble skills stand for resilience, adaptability and the ability to face, overcome, and learn from failure.

As parents, rather than trying to protect our kids from every fall or failure, how can we learn to trust ourselves and our kids’ ability to fall and yet rise and move forward?

Now, think about this statistic again – “85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet and 65% of children starting school now would one day hold jobs that do not exist as of now.”

And let’s rewind to the time when we were kids. If you were born between 1980 – 1990, did some of today’s in-demand jobs exist back then? Let’s say – Social Media Strategist, Digital Marketer, Programmer/ Coder. No, right. The computer itself was such a new thing, and in our computer classes in school, we would learn ‘Paint’! Haven’t we survived and thrived?

When you think about these skills required for the 21st century – are they any different from the skills we are expected to have as a part of today’s workforce? Not really! These are the skills that I know, (as a Soft Skills Trainer myself) are being programmed into today’s working professionals and entrepreneurs too.

The only difference between us and our kids will be that – our kids will have the advantage of being prepared before-hand, if we as parents take the initiative to imbibe these skills in them from early childhood. They won’t grapple with developing these skills as adults, like we are trying to cope today.

I am sure these skills will be the sum and result of many tiny actions me & my daughter take on a daily basis, and not some sudden phenomenon.

Well, I am glad I’ve got my starting point – my journey of exploration and experimentation begins here and my goal is to have some concrete ideas on the HOW.

As parents of toddlers and young kids what can we do? What tiny actions can we take daily to imbibe these essential skills and values in our kids and help them be prepared for their FUTURE.

Any ideas to begin with?

Sharing is Caring!

How one word changed everything for my little daughter?

Sharing is Caring!

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice”

– Peggy O’mara
Effective communication in Parenting

My little one will turn 2 in a month. She is learning to speak while also achieving so many other physical milestones. How amazing it is to see her grow a little bit more every second! Like most kids, her strategy to converse with us is to often repeat what we’re saying. And undoubtedly therefore, the most common word she uses is ‘NO’!

Every time I hear her say ‘No’ to my instructions, I regret telling her ‘No’ for so many of her requests and adventurous pursuits. Thankfully, this has made me even more conscious about the words I use with her now.

Often, she would ask to do some things independently, like wear her shoes, or comb her hair, or every other task that I do. So to discourage her, I would say, (in our mother tongue) “No, Babykya pattathilla” which means, “No Baby, you can’t do this.”

Then I noticed that, each time, she tried doing something on her own, she would give up within a few seconds and say, “pattathilla (I can’t)”. When I heard her say this a few times in a few situations is when this quote by Peggy O’mara struck me hard!

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” – Peggy O’mara

And for a second, I was taken aback by the power of these words. I could immediately relate this to my own experiences from the past – when I didn’t give something a shot, or I gave up too quickly, or when I tried to be the best or perfect in everything. I realized how true this quote is.

When we are faced with challenging situations, or may be even routine situations in daily life – if we listen closely, the very first voices we hear are either our Dad’s words or our Mom’s or some authority figure we are really close to.

Sometimes, these words encourage us. But at times, those voices discourage us from taking some of the best risks. Can’t blame them though – as a parent now, I know that the synonym of ‘overprotective’ is ‘parents’!!

What I have learnt though, is that at times, those very first voices we are programmed to hear must be over-ridden so that we only regret the mistakes we made, and not the risks we never took! A lot of times, those risks pay off really beautifully.

And so, in an attempt, to test Peggy O’mara’s thought in reality – I tried to ‘reprogram’ my little baby with the change of a single word.

Each time, she would ask me to do something that I think she can’t but is safe enough for her to try, I would say something like, “Baby try cheithe, Pattum which means “Try it Baby, you can!” Or if it was something that she definitely should not try now, rather than saying she can’t, I would say, “Once you grow up, you can” that is “Baby vellitha aakumbol, Pattum”.

And to my surprise (or no surprise), she picked it up!

She has been learning to remove her shoes herself. While earlier, she would try and give up pretty quickly – after this little change I made – I hear her say,”Pattum (I can)” and trying hard before she calls me for help.

As I write this, she has now kind of mastered the skill which could also be because she’s grown by a few months from the time she started trying, but what stays with me is her word,”Pattum.”

A word good enough to help me remember what kind of voice I want to be for her!

Sharing is Caring!