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On Parenting

Entries for January 2010

28
The Winter Olympics are only weeks away, bringing with it the excitement of medal counts and new household heroes. For these amazing athletes, Olympic gold will cement their legacies. But the competitors are so close in talent and skill that the difference between greatness and going home empty handed can be measured in tenths and hundredths of seconds. So what is it that sets the elite athlete apart from the competition? It turns out they are the same as those which separate top-tier students from the very good. Hard work and dedication certainly play a role but coaching, game-planning, and knowing what and how to train to maximize potential are what push students and athletes alike to the next level. Creative Tutors founder, Jan Van Blarcum, Ph.D. explains what it takes to go from great to good in the academic arena. “Many times a C student can become a B student by putting in extra hours of study and a B student may become a B+ student by working even more diligently. But at a certain point the rate of return on simply working hard will plateau and additional study and stress will not help to break through that ceiling. This is when a student needs to work smart, and with the expertise and concentrated focus that a tutor brings, the sky is the limit.” Read more »Original post blogged on b2evolution.

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23
“There’s a trick I use with my son, Aravind. He’s an energetic two-year-old who tends to hurt himself jumping around. Nothing serious, of course. But what I know always works is mummy’s Band Aid. Here’s the trick. When he starts crying following a mild fall, I calm his nerves down by inspecting the wound closely, rubing it gently and I’ll plant a kiss exactly on the ‘wound’, reminding him that he’s a strong boy and the he can overcome the pain,’ shares Mona Reddy, homemaker and mother of one. “I usually also tell him to get up quickly and dust himself off. Almost always he stops crying and says the pain is gone. Magically!” she adds. Ah, the classic kiss-for-a-Band-Aid trick every parent employs. In this scenario, the action, coupled with positive enforcements, affected Aravind’s self esteem – he believed in his abilities and felt better. Granted, Mona may not be over the moon if Aravind now thinks he is Superman and sets out to conquer the world only to wreck more havoc. But as long her child does not put on a cape (or wear his underwear over his pants ala the superhero), she has utilised the power of affirmation without actually realising it. With her words and action, Mona inculcated virtues such as strength of character and belief in one’s self in Aravind. Power of our actions It is not rocket science to accept that parents have a large hand in shaping a child’s personality and nurture often meets nature halfway. A good and positive environment is known to make a good impact on child’s future. The reverse is evident with many studies throughout history. Case in point is a well-known experiment carried out by American psychologist John Watson in 1920. Watson conditioned a child, Little Albert, to develop a fear of rats. He repeatedly paired the rat with loud, disturbing sounds, the latter of which the child was already scared of. After some pairings, the child started crying upon the mere sight of a rat. That is the power of our actions. Watson even went on to claim that he could inculcate any characteristic in a child, good or bad. With all the power a physical environment has on a person’s character, creating a positive, nurturing one through actions is highly beneficial. Constantly telling your child he is intelligent, brave or an overall good kid will improve his self-esteem and self-worth. Moreover, a child is exceptionally susceptible to external stimulus and they readily absorb ideas as their brains are just developing. Psychologists will agree that if you encourage, appreciate and praise a child, he will in turn respect you and others. Positive affirmations translate into positive messages translated into the subconscious mind. The next time he or she deals with a problem of a similar nature, it will be taken with a braver and more positive front. Hence, positive affirmations lead to positive thinking, and the latter has exceptional benefits. There are considerable studies shown, in adults at least, that positive thinking leads to a better quality of life. And when one is happy, endorphins and other protective chemicals are secreted that protect the body’s immune system. Scientists believe that these chemical changes also prove that optimists live longer and experience a higher quality of life. Thinking negatively about one’s self places the body under stress, which affects one’s immune system. “Stress over a short period of time is good as it regulates the immune system. The problem is the body is not designed to deal with chronic stress and that’s where the problem lies. So when it comes to thinking, if a person is pessimistic, he is in a state of negative chronic stress just because of what is going on in their mind,” said Dr Amit, a psychologist. Hence empowering a child from a young age often leads to a more positive personality, which in turn can have a powerful impact on his or her life. This is essentially the basis of the mind-body connection, a belief that thoughts and feelings have the power over the physical body. So how do you get started? Well, as a parent you’re probably already using positive enforcements. But perhaps there are little things that slip by you that you can now rectify. For a start, let’s give up the kiasu Singaporean ways that tends to be more destructive than constructive. Here’s a test, if your child comes in second for a math examination, what do you do? Scold him for not coming in tops, or praise him his stellar effort? Perhaps after reading the above, you will choose the latter.

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23
Things You Really Need to Learn ~ by Stephen Downes The depth and forthrightness of this essay blows me away. Incredible food for thought, especially if you've got older kids.

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23
Is your teenager dying to look like a celebrity? Diet pills, body waxing and skin treatments are things that girls would naturally go for. But a recent study tells us that it’s not just the girls who do these things anymore, teenage boys are now keen on keeping a slim figure, maintaining a smooth skin and looking good and fit. Shocked? Well, blame it on peer (or media) pressure. Dr. Jay Yoo of Baylor University studied more than a hundred fifty teenage boys in the US. As a result, he discovered that teenage boys these days are more conscious about their looks because of constant pressure to conform to what the media says is handsome. They are now eager to receive spa services and use salon products just to look like their favourite celebrity. Dr. Yoo discovered that many teenage boys have a distorted notion of what a healthy body looks like. For them, healthy is slim while unhealthy is overweight. This thinking leads them to take diet pills. Years ago, boys taking diet pills was unheard of. But now, it is just a normal thing. Does your teenage son feel pressured to conform to the media’s standard for beauty? What changes in his grooming and eating habits have you noticed?

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23
We have all had times when either our child or someone else’s starts wailing the minute the plane takes off. The dreaded thought of spending the entire flight journey listening to screams is probably the best birth-control around. Now we are not drug pushers (that kind of excitement is beyond us sensible people) but ever so often the thought of slipping some sort of a sedative to our little tyke does creep in doesn’t it? After all, what is wrong with inducing sleep in our little one? Especially when everyone around us in the plane would applaud us for it…………………………. Over the past two years, 1,500 babies and toddlers have wound up in emergency rooms after having a bad reaction to cold medicines, according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. We, at TheAsianParent , were wondering if any parent has ever intentionally fed cough syrup to his/her child just to get the child to quieten down. We searched and found a mother (no easy feat!) who agreed to share her story (after debating to what extent her identity should be withheld) of giving her little angel some cough syrup to endure a long flight. *Damika Charan lived the desirable single life: jetting off to faraway places in the name of business, had a spending account and a boyfriend who thought the world of her. Finally, settling down into the bliss of marriage, Damika had a baby girl, Indira (now 4), after being married for a year. “As my husband is based in Europe every six months, Indira and I fly constantly to visit him,” says Damika. Traveling constantly on flight 3 years ago would have meant tugging along a one-year-old baby for a flight that would have lasted hours. How did Damika cope? “Cough syrup” she replies sheepishly. “I mean at first I was totally against giving my child anything as such. But she was such an active little baby and even more as a toddler. So I thought to myself, do I want a screaming child and a plane full of people who hate me for it or a drowsy, peaceful child and fellow passengers who would probably appreciate my action?” Damika started feeding her child with half a tablespoon of cough syrup which would knock little Izzie out for most of the duration of the flight. Did her husband know and was he agreeable with it? “He didn’t know and still doesn’t. It’s not like I was giving her drugs! I mean firstly I was alone on the flight, trying to appease a fidgety, screaming child. Secondly, I had to smile apologetically at all these people in the flight whom I didn’t even know nor ever would see again. I mean it sounds like I took the easy way out but really when you are a first time mother, traveling alone for such long hours, you just turn to the first safe method you can to get your little one to settle down!” muses Damika. However, in January this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in the United States, issued a public advisory warning to parents and caregivers against giving children under the age of 2 over-the-counter cold medicine and cough syrup because of the possibility of “serious and potentially life-threatening” side effects. The advisory cited decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines or cough suppressants. Although the side effects are rare, they are serious, the FDA said. They can include death, convulsions, rapid heart rates, and decreased levels of consciousness. Hence, you are probably wondering how Donna reacted to this. “I was shocked of course. I mean I did exactly that – started feeding her when she was less that 2. But sometimes I feel God is with me. Indira was and still is an active child who enjoys watching Hannah Montana, playing with her dolls, experimenting with paint and singing songs with words she has made up! She is like any four-year-old and I mean it was not a constant thing I did religiously at night or something! It was just perhaps once every month or so” assures Damika. And for the inevitable question – Does she still feed Indira cough syrup when they travel? “No, because she has grown accustomed to the taste. Haha. But seriously, being a four-year-old she knows better than to run around screaming. It was only for about two years. Also it’s universally accepted. I’m sure many parents are still guiltily doing it, even those who are pretending to be shocked while reading this!” smiles Damika. Names have been changed to protect the identity of those mentioned in the above article //

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23
By Korin Miller, Cosmopolitan magazine

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23
Depression used to just be an adult condition. It was very rare to hear children feeling depressed ten years ago. But nowadays, cases of clinically depressed children continue to rise. The Times of India tells us that there are several factors why this condition affects our kids today. “Weekend Parenting” is one big reason why kids fall into depression. It happens when both parents are working and only have time for their kids on weekends. Because children receive various inputs from their caregivers over the course of a week, they become confused and depressed when their parents expect them to do things that they don’t normally do. Media’s influence over our kids is another reason why we see more cases of depression among children. The television and the internet is easily accessed by kids today and there’s no telling what information they can get from these sources. Separation of parents can also make kids feel neglected and rejected, and in the long run will make them feel depressed. When parents separate, kids often feel that they’re to blame. These feelings of guilt greatly affects their mental health. Pressure from parents and peers can often lead to depression in kids. Parents are often guilty of pressuring their kids to conform to the standards of society. They want them to be successful at an early age, when in fact their kids are still not ready. According to experts, there are five common symptoms that could indicate depression in children: loss of appetite, lack of interest in engaging in social activities, irritability, troubled sleep, and lack of interest in school. If you think your child is suffering from depression, immediately seek the help of a professional. Treatments usually involve counselling and medication.

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22
There is no doubt that all children love to engage in play – a seemingly pointless activity that, in actuality, helps our young develop psycho motor skills, hone their hand-eye coordination and tap into their creative minds. Despite its important role in a child’s development journey, many adults overlook the necessity of playtime as the child grows older and would rather they spend the time on education. Various forms of play, however, boasts of the following benefits: Active play – such as sports or some time at the playground – is a good form of exercise for the kids and serves as a good distraction from their busy lives as students. Not only does it strengthen the body, it also sharpens the mind as physical activity brings more oxygen to the brain and results in heightened responsiveness. In the long run, your child will have a healthier body too! Stimulating play in cases of the modern favorites such as computer games can help your child develop analytical skills, and quicken thinking responses. Almost all games require your child to think quick on his feet and respond appropriately to the situation presented. As long as such play is monitored closely and rationed throughout his day, there can be little harm done. Creative play occurs when your child prefers to spend his or her spare time on artistic pursuits such as drawing, painting, or even making Play-doh sculptures. Pablo Picasso once said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” If we let our children to express themselves through art, it will also allow us to explore their imagination as we view each piece of their artwork. Although there are so many ways to engage in play, there are often limited activities that an infant can play, unless you participate. Peek-a-boo, a long-time favourite between parents and young children, enforces the idea that you have not “disappeared” but is merely out of sight. It helps your baby cope better with separation anxiety as he or she grows older, as you will be able to comfort him with a reassuring voice from the next room, instead of having to put down what you are doing, just to pick him up. Other than the benefits of learning through play, acting as your child’s play partner will also strengthen the bond between parent and child – a sure bonus that will keep the relationship close even though you might spend most part of each day working away from your baby. Restrictions Once your baby is old enough to experiment with the myriad of toys available, the new found fascination may help to take him off your hands for short periods of time but remember that it is still very important not to neglect your child, or restrict the way he might prefer to play with his toys. When my son turned six-months-old, we presented him with a shape-sorting toy hoping that he would recognise shapes and do us proud by sorting them into the similar shaped holes in the sorter box. I cannot begin to describe the sense of disappointment I had felt when he deny the common logic of the toy’s purpose, but as the weeks went by, I finally understood that he had his own way of playing and started to take it in my stride. He would bang the shapes together, stack them up, throw them around, play fetch with our cats using them, turn the sorter box upside down to cover the shapes as if playing peek-a-boo with them – in essence, everything but sorting out the shapes. And in actuality, there was nothing wrong with that. He was, and is, simply a baby who doesn’t like to follow strict rules when it came to play. He enjoyed “making music” by banging the shapes together, as how he would drum his tiny hands on any surface just to see what sounds he would create. He was practicing balance when he was stacking up the shapes. He managed to figure out that the box would work well as a hiding place for the shapes. And most importantly, he expressed his generosity by allowing our cats to share his toys with him. Instead of showing me that he could sort shapes, my son had showed me much more of what he was capable of. It was also this experience that had enlightened me on how adults should not restrict the way children prefer to play. Playtime is not only about fun, it also helps our children learn and grow in various ways that no other activities can provide. There are benefits to a child regardless of how he plays, and if your child can break out of the mould and find new ways of playing with his toys, we should feel proud of his creativity instead of insisting they use a toy in the way it was “meant to be”. Your child could be a genius in the making for discovering alternative methods for simple toys! //

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22
Ever since I was a little girl, I was taught by my parents that school was a place where you could expand your mind and learn about the potential you have within yourself, and become whatever you wanted to be in life. With the passing of time, these ideals have not changed, but have actually [...]

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22
What to tell the children? How to help them help? Those are the questions parents have been asking this past week

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