Finding the Right Balance

The Ultimate Parenting Question: How do you Find the Right Balance Between Protecting Kids & Letting Them Explore?

Every parent has a different parenting style, and each one of us knows a cautionary tale about a parent going to the extreme – being too overbearing or too passive can have equally negative effects on your child’s self-esteem and equilibrium later in life. With these issues, no one has the perfect answer for you and your kids – there’s no textbook to read, no teacher to mark you right or wrong, and what works for someone else may not necessarily be right for you. Online, you can find advice to suit every approach, from parenting tips on getting kids outside, to advice on avoiding the real dangers out there – so how do you translate the sea of parenting advice out there into something that works for you?

Research Parenting Styles

This is all about getting the right balance for you and your child, passing careful judgement on what you read and how it applies to your reality, and avoiding going too close to either extreme. A recent Times of India article points out the dangers of one-dimensional parenting styles and the long term impact they have on kids. For example, pushing our children to succeed is often rightly perceived as a positive thing; but set your expectations too high, and your child could end up feeling as though they have failed as an adult. Likewise, overprotected children can struggle to make independent decisions as an adult, and find it difficult to deal with real life once they’ve grown up and the cotton wool has been removed.

Trusting Parental Instinct

But how do we know when to step in and protect our children from danger or distress, and when to stand back and let them learn from their own mistakes, fight their own battles, and experience failure for themselves? Well, the truth is, we don’t. No one can predict how a situation will pan out 100% of the time. That’s why being able to tell the difference between a justified instinct and an irrational paranoia is such an important parenting skill to have. We must use our own knowledge of the world to make a judgement, and use our instincts to determine how best to parent our children in any given situation.

Building a Trusting Parent-Child Relationship

New technologies such as personal tracking devices make the question of how far we should go to keep an eye on our offspring more relevant today than ever. Social media profiles make it more and more tempting to check up on what the kids are up to. But where does one draw the line between virtual stalking and remote protection? There’s numerous benefits to be gained by just asking our children where they are going and what they are doing and trusting their answer, but how do you know they’ll be safe if you don’t know for sure what’s going on?

What modern parents need is a respectful, truthful, and trusting relationship with their children – and this must fostered from early childhood. One way to build this, as well as help develop aChild-parent child’s logic and understanding of the world, is to let them play and explore for themselves. It can be a daunting idea, but it’s easy to let them run wild whilst ensuring their safety (and your peace of mind!) if you know a few local play spots that provide a protected environment. And it can make a huge difference to the way your kids feel. You only have to look at the recent Kids Today project to see exactly what it’s like to be a child in a modern environment: head cameras on real kids show them enjoying exploration and play. Luckily, you can find tips on safe play environments even in the city, and you’ll soon see what it means to a child to be able to feel safe while they discover the world for themselves.

Letting Your Child Get Messy

Equally, it’s important to a child’s development to let them play and have the freedom to get dirty as they try new things out. Although your input and support as a parent is undeniablydirty_child_playing_outside essential at times, letting a child play and make a mess without interference is a confidence building exercise on both sides of the relationship. For the child, a bit of independence and freedom helps to boost their self-belief, and for us, finding that a complete mess results in a happy child and a quick clean up reminds us that a bit of muck isn’t the end of the world, and certainly has its benefits. Research suggests that eating the odd bit of dirt is actually good for a child’s immune system, and modern cleaning products make sorting out almost any mess relatively easy, so there’s really no need to worry about a bit of mud anymore.

As parents, we all know that there are dangers – like stranger-danger, or busy traffic — things in the world that we really do need to be worried about and should protect children from. But it’s not impossible to balance this awareness, and taking all the necessary precautions, with a realistic perspective. It’s important not to end up controlled by endless “What if?”s. We learn, as parents, by putting these fears into a real world context, and by talking to others with the same concerns and perhaps helpful experiences. So why not share your thoughts? What things in your child’s life do you worry about, and how do you deal with them?

The above post is a guest article from Surf Excel Team.

Linking this to July 2014 Ultimate Blogging Challenge and NaBloPoMo

What’s it Like to be a Kid?

Being a kid is much more complicated than we may think. While there’s plenty of playing, having fun, and socialising without a care in the world, it’s these childhood years that shape our future, and make us who we are. New research is starting to show us the importance of everyday experiences during childhood in terms of development, including family time, learning, and activities for kids. The problem is that, while children on one level know what they need to thrive, they’re often unable to articulate exactly what it is.

Do they need more structure or more freedom? Do they need more play time or more educational activities? As parents, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to do for the best. If only we could see the world through a child’s eyes…

Kids Today

Surf Excel have recently launched a new project, called Kids Today, which really does let us see the world through a child’s eyes. Using bespoke state-of-the-art technology, Surf Excel have opened up a whole new world of to us parents, giving us an insight into childhood from a kids’ perspective. The insights from Surf Excel’s research into kids’ activities shows us how our children learn from their environment and the people around them, and, most importantly, directs us towards those all important factors which shape our kids’ experiences.

As you may have guessed, there is no single thing a child needs in order to be happy – it really is a blend of different aspects and activities, which work together to create experiences that kids build upon to become well-rounded adults. Based upon the findings of Surf Excel’s EyeView camera, five essential subject important to kids today have been captured:

Play Face

Play may seem like fun, but it can also be highly educational to children. Studies have found that play ‘contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children’, whether that be structured indoor play, such as building a tower out of bricks – or unstructured, messy, outdoor play, where kids are given the ultimate freedom and encouraged to use their creativity, to make mistakes, and to learn from their surroundings.

Busy Kids

As we’re starting to understand the association between childhood experiences and successful, happy adulthoods, many of us are encouraging our kids to have a wide range of experiences, such as partaking in after school activities, signing up for extra classes or courses, or taking up a hobby. It’s really no wonder that (according to research done by Surf Excel for the Kids Today project) an astonishing 74 percent of us think our kids are busier than we were at that age.

City Kids

More than half of all mums interviewed for the Kids Today project reported that they would like their kids to spend less time watching TV or playing video games, but many kids living in big cities simply don’t have much opportunity to get out and about and to play in designated safe areas. These areas are important, however – footage captured by the EyeView camera demonstrates just how hectic urban environments can seem to young kids. Fortunately, there are plenty of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in the city; we just need to use our imaginations.

What’s it Like?

Things have changed a lot since we were kids, making it challenging for us to identify with children today, and understand their thought and action processes. As Dr Jansari, the psychologist behind the Kids Today project, states: “What might look like messing around can really be a learning experience”. Just because we don’t understand a child’s behaviour doesn’t mean that it isn’t a vital part of their development.

Learning is Messy

Learning isn’t as straightforward as we once thought. Years ago, it was thought that the most important factor in creating successful adults was a school education, but now we’re seeing that children learn everywhere, not just the classroom. The process is quite complex and messy, but new technology is helping us to understand the complex spider web of learning more than ever before.

So, what’s it like to be a kid? It’s complicated! However, with major brands such as Surf Excel making childhood development a major focus, and with the introduction of new technology, we’re finally starting to be able to make more sense of this complex yet magical time in life.

The above post is a guest article from Surf Excel Team.

Encouraging Creativity can Help your Kids Succeed in School

In schools, and amongst parents, there seems to be a very definite consensus that creativity and academia are separate concepts. Describing kids, or hearing them described, it is quite common to label them either as the creative type or as the intellectual type, and there very rarely seems to be a crossover between the two. The question we should be asking is – are creativity and intelligence mutually exclusive, or can they actually benefit one another? The association, or lack of, between creativity and academia has long been the focus of psychologists and researchers, and many believe that imagination and creativity helps to develop the type of logical and rational thought needed to understand complex theories and ideas. If you are looking for fun and exciting ways to help your child succeed at school, art and craft ideas may be just what you’re looking for.

Arts & Crafts for Logical Thinking

If you can’t quite see a clear link between arts and crafts and academia, it can be difficult to know what sorts of activities to carry out with your kids that will help them perform to the best of their ability in school. However, here are some excellent ideas that are suitable for kids of all ages:

T-Shirt Decoration

images 2All you need for this is an old white (or light colored) T-shirt, and a wide range of crafting materials, such as odd pieces of material, glue, glitters, paints, pens, buttons, stickers, and anything else you have lying around the house. The idea is to essentially overwhelm your kids with choice, encouraging them to make decisions about the best materials they should use for their chosen T-shirt design and about the most practical colours. Being able to see the picture as a whole, take it all in, assess the choices, and narrow them down to those that would fit the situation best – these are excellent skills, not only in the classroom, but also in life!

Homemade Jigsaw PuzzlesJig saw puzzle

For kids who are a little older, putting together jigsaw puzzles is a piece of cake – something they can do with their eyes closed – so why not make it a bit more challenging? Using some thick card, pens and paints, and safety scissors, ask your kids to draw or paint a design. Then, cut it up into a set number of pieces that all fit together perfectly. Then, they can put the pieces back together again – this is an excellent task for encouraging problem solving, and your kids will get a great game to add to their toy boxes at the end!

3D Sculptures

spaperchaincaterpillarThinking about the holidays, what is one festive decoration that you always made at school? Paper chains! They seem so simple and straightforward from an adult perspective, but when you’re a kid, they’re like magic! Using strips of colored paper, make paper chains with your kids. You can hang them from the ceilings or walls in your home. Seeing how 2D materials can be transformed into 3D artwork promotes logical information processing, and opens your kids up to a whole new way of thinking.

To give our kids the best chances, it’s just as important to promote imagination and creativity as it is to promote the sciences. Why not come up with your own ideas for fun activities you can do with your kids at home?

The above post is a guest article from Surf Excel Team.

Images Courtesy : Google Images

Do Right… The Earlier, The Better

That year Aaryan’s birthday was on a holiday. Though a party with his friends was planned in the evening, but a major part of the day was devoid of any activity for the birthday boy.

While, we were brainstorming about the things we could do to continue the celebrations, right from the morning till night, KG suggested that we visit the SOS Children’s Village. As part of his company’s CSR, he and his colleagues had visited the SOS Children’s Village, a few days ago, for sponsoring the education of senior students. We immediately made plans to visit the place and bought snacks, biscuits, sweets, chocolates and other food items.

We had read enough in the media, seen the pictures on the notice boards of institutions, heard a few stories about children in orphanages. But what we experienced there cannot be described in words.

We were given a tour of the entire property.  What we saw there moved our souls. There were some 80 kids of all ages. Seeing a few toddlers was heart-rending, and when one 2 year old started bawling to be in my arms than that of the care-taker, it just broke my heart.

While KG went with the Manager of the Home to discuss some official details, the children surrounded Aaryan and me and asked us if we would like to see their dormitory.

All the kids in the dorm tried to seek our attention. Some showed us their books, some toys, a girl showed her embroidered kurta, and some their drawings. Every child had a smile on his/her face. While, I was chatting with the kids and asking them about their favorite subjects at school or the games they enjoyed, a few boys asked Aaryan, if he would play with them. He agreed readily. While they were playing with the ball, a boy of Aaryan’s age asked him, “How does it feel to stay with your parents? They must love you a lot!!”

I turned around to see Aaryan’s reaction. He was stunned. A boy of 7 must have never thought about this question ever. But it hit him somewhere.

On our way back he had a lot of questions. We told him that there are so many vulnerable children who spend their childhood in orphanages, without the love and care of a family. The lucky ones still get food, clothes, bed, an education and a roof over their heads in such institutions. But there are so many who have no access to even the basic needs and struggle on their own from such a young age. We discussed about how life would be in general for these kids, their experiences, their feelings. We talked about thinking from their perspectives, trying to be in their shoes. We explained how a small effort or a smile or a word of encouragement can brighten somebody’s life…

And that birthday was a starting point of lessons for Aaryan in compassion. It is a ritual to visit SOS Children’s Village and Mother Teresa’s Home, every now and then. At these places, he…

  • Serves food to the kids and the elderly
  • Plays games with the children at the orphanage
  • Talks to the lonely and hurting elderly people at the Mother Teresa Home
  • Shares toys, clothes, books with the children
  • Smiles at everybody he meets.

Few months ago, we were waiting at the traffic signal. A small child selling some paper napkins saw Aaryan fidgeting with the McDonald’s Happy Meal toy, which he had got a few minutes ago. Before we knew what was happening, Aaryan rolled down his side of the car window and gave the toy to that child. Both the kids exchanged a smile.

They say, compassion is something that can be taught and developed; the earlier, the better! I am glad that my child is learning and practicing this lesson of life from a very young age.

I am sharing my Do Right Stories at BlogAdda.com in association with Tata Capital.

You Won’t Know Until You Try…

I remember, exactly around this time, last year, our home was buzzing with discussions about Boarding Schools. While KG and I were all excited about this new journey, AG, our sonny boy experienced an emotional yo-yo. One minute he was all thrilled and the next moment his face was clouded with doubts. And this continued for a while but when we got the appointment letter from the school, he was very clear and his reaction was a “NO”!

you-wont-know-until-you-try

My new post on Parentous. Do check it out and share your views and experiences here!

The Independence to Eat Right

Whenever I see these two things happening, I always thank God, my parents, my husband, the books that I read, the teachers of my child, the parents who shared their experiences with me, the parents who allowed us to witness their plight.. No, don’t get me wrong, this is not an acceptance speech for an award…

the-independence-to-eat-right

My new post on Parentous. Check it out and do share your views, thoughts and experiences here.

A Parenting Case Study

Have you come across a family where a child is the boss?

Have you seen a family where parents are obedient to the child??

How does this style of parenting affects a child in later years? Will the child be able to ‘behave’ well and change her habits in the later years? When will the child learn about value systems? Is this parenting style good for the child?

parenting-case-study

Check this post on Parentous and share your views and thoughts!

A Letter to Our Adolescent Generation

Hey Guys!Yesterday, I read about a 17-year-old girl from a South Delhi public school, who was allegedly sexually assaulted by two MNC employees. Her statement to the police reveals a sordid tale of exploitation by the two men who, she alleges, were working in tandem. TOI states that it was a Facebook friendship, that began in September 2011, which pulled her into the quagmire.

And this made me think about this business of befriending strangers on Facebook and other networking sites. I am sure almost all of us have got a few ‘Friend’ requests from strangers on Facebook. Some even send a message along with the request which mostly reads like, “Hey! Your profile picture is very nice or you are beautiful.”

How do we react to such requests from strangers?… Feel flattered? Smile? Feel good that somebody finds us beautiful? Irritated? Angry? Disgusted?

While, it is a no brainer and we may say that nobody would add strangers as their friends on Facebook but then there are people who do just that!

In fact, there are many who boast about having hundreds of ‘Friends’ on Facebook and it becomes a matter of ‘neighbours envy, owner’s pride!’ There is a competition for getting Likes and Comments on pictures and status updates!

I remember, as kids it was drilled into us about not talking to strangers. Are the same rules valid in today’s age when social networking is the new mantra!?

I believe, Yes!

While it is very easy to get carried away by the peer pressure, the popularity contest, of ‘who is having more friends’ or ‘who got more likes and comments’, it is important to know the perils of befriending strangers…

  • The first and foremost is that it is just not safe. You don’t know the person and his intentions. When your parents/elders tell you that it is a big bad world out there, please believe, it is.

“If I don’t know you, you are not my friend on social networking sites”, follow this religiously. Cancel the request or simply block the person.

  • You don’t have to share the million pictures you click or videos that you make for every thing on social networking sites. You are exposing yourself and your friends to the creeps thereby giving them the access to your personal information, which they can use it to their advantage, anytime.

Experience the experiences, soak them in, learn from them rather than just clicking to share on the networking sites.

  • Agree, it is the age of communication. It is important to communicate what you feel, think, believe… but do not communicate with these virtual strangers, please! It is like the Miranda Warning, “Anything you say or do may be used against you!”

Communicate with your real life friends, your parents, your siblings, grandparents…

  • You may say that your Facebook settings are controlled. Glad that you have done so, but a casual comment on a picture (especially the tagged ones) or an update can give away a lot of information about you or your friends. And what if, the stranger you befriended recently is actually your Ex or somebody whom you ‘unfriended’?

Believe it, stranger things are happening. It is better to be cautious.

Hope you’ll be true to yourself and go with your instincts. Don’t be somebody you’re not just to fit in. Also remember that we all learn from our experiences, but we can learn a lot from the experiences of others too.

Stay Safe and Grow Up
Your Well-Wisher

Image Courtesy : Google Images

Killing Them Young?

Last week,  a colleague’s cousin committed suicide. He was in Class X. There was immense pressure from school to take extra coaching classes which he was not keen on.

A few months ago, a teenage girl jumped onto the railway track and killed herself. Earlier in the day, police had ‘caught’ her along with her male friend in a public park and threatened to inform the parents. Instead of going home and talking to her parents about the incident, she decided to take her life instead.

Every few days, we get to hear about the tragic news of teens killing themselves.

Are parents, responsible for their child’s untimely death?

Pls share your views and thoughts on this new post at Parentous.
killing-them-young

Partying with Kids

Have you ever witnessed this in your home or at a get-together elsewhere…

  • Kids jumping up and down on the sofa and some with their shoes on too.
  • Kids driving toy cars or playing with Jenga blocks on the glass table top.
  • Kids insisting on playing with delicate show pieces and artefacts and in process breaking or damaging them….
  • Kids balancing their plates stuffed with food and walking all over the house and then spilling food and drinks all over- on themselves, floor, chairs, bed, sofa… thereby creating a mess of the whole place.
  • Kids adamant on taking some of the toys back home with them

My new post on Parentous talks about Partying with Kids at home!!
partying-with-kids
How has been your experience when kids join you for a party?
Looking forward to your experiences, tips and suggestions on this post! 🙂

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