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photo credit: “PictureYouth” via photopin cc

“The child, in fact, once he feels sure of himself, will no longer seek the approval of authority after every step.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

 

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Parents v/s teachers

I have been told that my daughter is very headstrong & assertive. Well, that’s politely put. What it means is that you have to cajole, convince and reprimand (mostly in the same order) for everything. Don’t get me wrong, I love her more than life, but I also know that I am not an only parent saying that these kids live dual lives. They are someone else in front of their teachers & a completely different person with their mom!

Recently all parents were invited to her school for a sports day of sorts. Not just me, but several parents were amazed (read shocked) to see these tiny kids walk a straight line, flags waving, with such poise & confidence, not a foot out of place, not one breaking the line. They performed feats which I deem extraordinary. They raced for 20 meters balancing a ball on a spoon, running while dribbling a basketball & what not!

I must confess, the shock was less because I think its impossible for kids this age to be so coordinated & disciplined, but more because all the moms were saying the same thing, ‘My kid just doesn’t listen to me at home, & here she is, doing everything the teachers have taught!’.

These kids take guidance, advice, authority- everything, from their teachers & follow them like besotted kittens J . And all tantrums & indiscipline is reserved for mommy dear!

So you can crib about this injustice and twist of fate, or, you can use it to your advantage. Next time you want to make your kids do something, take the teachers into confidence. Chances are you just might get your way with the kid 🙂

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10 values with which to raise children

We are a sum total of our upbringing, our environment and our choices. I have realised the magnitude of the effect all these ingredients have on me, only when I became a parent myself.

Here are some 10 things I have consciously done in the hope & belief that it will give my kids a good environment.

 

1. Don’t pre-empt everything for her or let her experience new surroundings, new textures, new everything. How many times do you say ‘No, this is not good for you’, ‘No, you’ll hurt yourself’, within the limits of sensibility, (you have to be dense if you let your toddler to injure herself with a knife to learn its sharp), how many times do we let our kids foray on their own. I am guilty of this, and have starting checking myself before I stop my child every time. She’s a child, and she WILL NOT be as sensible as someone 10 times her age, so why do I want her to have my wisdom? She’s a child. Let her learn by finding out. Trust me, kids are in no rush to grow up, we are.

2. Let her fall. Don’t rush to catch her to avoid a fall. A grazed knee is a small price to pay for the loads of confidence and experience that she will gain from falling. By letting her fall, and letting her pick herself up, you are giving her & yourself (very important) the confidence that she is capable of navigating & taking in her stride the challenges she is encountering. After falling once & hurting herself, you will be surprised at how careful she becomes. You don’t have to hover around her all the time with worry. As a parent I know I can’t & won’t be around her all the time protecting her. So I want her to at least learn these basics in my presence.

3. Encourage curiosity- Show pleasure when they ask a question while reading a book or watching the TV, or anything that catches their fancy. This single trait will take them far, when they are writing entrance exams and are judged on their thinking-out-of-the-box capability.

4. Teach them to question authority, in a respectful manner. I know that’s walking a thin line, but don’t we want to raise kids who are confident and not afraid to call a spade a spade. But this is a tricky one, since a child who has been raise to be fearless & righteous, will keep everyone around her to follow the same values that she has been asked to live with 🙂 . Very often my daughter reminds my husband mid-sentence that he is not doing something right, or, objects if she is talking to someone & I interject, reminding me that its rude to interrupt when two people are talking 🙂  .

5. Let them participate in decision making- Small decisions like whether she would prefer to watch TV, or do craft, or help me in the kitchen (that’s what she calls it 🙂 ) let them know the meaning of choices & slowly help them connect the dots that with a decision comes the responsibility of actions & repercussions. Let her make a decision and teach her the value of choices, and the fact that you trust her.

6. Ask questions & see how they open up. They have a valid explanation for everything they observe, and you will be amazed at their creativity.

7. Don’t limit her. Make her believe she is the best. Stop before you say she can’t do it, she’s too small. Instead tell her that it requires her to be a little taller/ little stronger…… Don’t ever tell her she can’t be something. Children are born confident, we rob them off it, a little each time we tell them they can’t do something. Didn’t we all start out wanting to be fighter pilots, racing car drivers & wildlife photographer before we succumbed to the conventional career choices 🙂 .

8. Don’t pass on your prejudices to her. I have built my likes & dislikes over these years, and for some reason. Lizards & creepy crawly insects make me uncomfortable. But other than the basic of what’s dangerous & hazardous, I want my kids to decide what they like & what they don’t independent of me. May it be cuisine, career choices, sports & everything.

9. Older is not always right. Just because I or someone older is saying something doesn’t make it right. Have the grace to accept & apologise when wrong. It will set an example that elders & anyone can make a mistake.

10. Mischief & misbehaving are two different things. Everything is allowed so long as it is mischief and fun, that’s what separates a child from an adult, BUT, bad behaviour should not be tolerated. Personally, I feel, 3-3.5 yrs is the age when a child should be made to understand and respects boundaries. This is the age when their social interactions increases, they get exposed to their peers & many older people at pre-school, and this demarcation is essential. But enforced any earlier, and it affects their self confidence.

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Don’t rush a child

Every morning is a race against time. When my whole household is running to get my daughter school in time (and this is just a Montessori class), I get light headed thinking how will we ensure she boards the school bus which arrives half hour earlier!!!

We have a forty minute window to get the kid awake, finish her milk, bathe, get ready & have whatever little she can for breakfast, & run to get in the car, to reach school in time. All the while, seeking out a clock in whichever part of the house we are in, and praying that it ticks slower. The words that get repeated like a prayer, every day, are ‘we’re getting late’, ‘we have to rush’, ‘there is no time’….and the likes.

Once we are ready, we have to rush to the car & put on the seat belt & then drive off, hoping that the gods will hold the time still & we’ll reach school in time, and don’t have to cut a sorry figure in the school as a late comer.

In all this wild dash, one day, I forced myself to just stop & observe my daughter, & I was taken aback at what I saw.

Don’t rush a child

Like a child her age, she was blissfully ignorant of the pressure we felt all around us. I am sure if she were older, she would have said ‘What’s all this fuss about mom?’.

When she wakes up, she would laze in the bed pretending she’s asleep while actually wanting to be kissed, then savour her milk, then play with the water in the bath tub because to a three & a half year old kid its funny to throw bubbles at her mom & make her wet, and all the while chatting about the silly things her little brother does…. Then while getting ready, she would tell me tales about her school friends, how one kid is very naughty, or fights with others, or whatever captures her little world. Then she would climb down the stairs hopping on each one, reach the car & insist on using the keys to unlock the door, acting all grown up…… On the way, she would observe if it’s a sunny day, or a cloudy one, how the flag atop a building is dancing in the wind, what she will tell her teachers when she reaches school & what not…..

Show me one adult, who savours every minute & everything this life offers. Its only kids who are so engrossed in their life & so happy in what they have.

 

I now believe its criminal to rush a child & deprive them of these pleasures that only they can enjoy. Because, it’s not theirs, but our inability to manage time, that we feel the need to rush them. Too soon they will be grown up & be consumed with work, gadgets, gossip & all materialistic things that we are addicted to. Let us let them be, for however long we can, and not rush them into becoming us.

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Weekend crafts

Craft is what has come to my rescue every time when I have to keep my little one indoors, happy & engrossed, & in a healthy way (read no-TV, no- gadgets).

Unfortunately, for this weekend, it was just what the doctor would have ordered, since my daughter was unwell & had to be rested. So we ended up recreating her latest obsession (dinosaurs!). All we need is some coloured paper, scissors, (gloopy) glue & some imagination.

And viola! A dinosaur zoo is ready 🙂

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Development when a child starts pre-school

Development when a child starts pre-school

 

I have observed many changes in my now 3.5 year old daughter in the past 10 months, precisely the time since she started her pre-school. It can be due to many reasons, the exposure that she receives to new environment, new people each with a unique behaviour, the fact that her own personality is now developing from her experiences. From a baby who was cocooned in the love of her immediate family, she is growing into a child who now reflects what she has absorbed from the 30 people she has been interacting with on a daily basis.

Here’s my observation-

1. Making her own choices- She now establishes her preferences for food, drink, clothes, cartoons & people. When probed further, the child will actually explain to you why exactly she likes a particular thing. I attribute this to their growing communication where they can find exact words to express themselves.

2. Standing firm on her decisions- She is strong in her assertion & its tough to make her budge from her decision, right or wrong. Giving the toddler a logical explanation if you want her to see that her choice is not correct, will work most of the time. A strong headed child can become a tough adversary though & you’ll risk a tantrum, so try distraction instead. When the moment has passed, then gently bring the topic up & lovingly explain the reason for your intervention.

3. Copying the behaviour that she has seen works- Children are smarter than we give them credit for! They pick up cues from everything & absorb their surroundings like a sponge. If making a cute face gets her what she wants, she’ll do it when she needs to you behave in a certain way. But if she sees a crying sibling getting the favour, that’s what she will resort to. Also, interestingly & to my surprise, their choice of behaviour is also people dependent. They choose how they behave with different people, the way they have figured out what works best!

4. Imitating our behaviour- Very often you will see your toddler use the same words that you have used, in similar situations. If you say, ‘I am busy right now’, ‘Mamma is doing something important’, ‘This is bad behaviour’, trust me, you will be on the receiving end of these words soon enough, in a situation mirroring the instance when you had used them.

5. Comfortable in newer surroundings & with newer people- Like a lot of children her age, my daughter loved her personal space, familiarity & schedule. She would get very upset when she met strangers or was taken to a new place and it would take a lot of time & effort to calm her down. One very welcome change that a school ingrains is the ability to accept this unknown environment & people with ease. They are introduced to so many new faces and places in the school in a controlled fashion, that their little personalities are not threatened, and they start embracing the unknown.

6. Confidence- Ok, so this was quite expected, but its enormity still took me by surprise. I am amazed at the level of confidence that a school instils in kids. They are nurtured and guided to be able to speak in English, face an audience & engage in a conversation with elders with ease. They are confident of putting their tender thoughts forward & engage in a debate.

7. Skills- Pre-schools these days are doing a good job in exposing the children to a lot of activities these days. You will soon see the child develop better communication, memory, vocabulary, drawing or painting, or some such skill. They will be more co-ordinated in their efforts & have a tad more patience than they started with.