8 SECRETS FOR PARENTS WHO CARE
This is a true story, today’s story, not a ‘Once upon a time story. Sonu(name changed to protect privacy) and his friends were working on a team project. They recorded their procedures, results, explanations and wrote down the paper as a team. Sonu wrote the paper, Gokul got the model done, and Seema and Rani edited the report. They were proud of their work and often, just for fun, they took pictures of themselves and posted them on Instagram, where their friends could see the pictures and envy them. Like normal teens, they constantly wanted to be in touch with their friends.
When they got bored they switched to PUBG and other games, which was their only stress buster. Even after an hour, they did not realize that they had not completed their project. As the deadline came close, they decided that they could easily complete it on a night out, because their game was really going places!
This is how it all started 2 years ago. Today, Sonu wants to study but he can’t get out of this addiction to the game and social media. He has even stopped seeing his friends. A straight-A grader, his grades have fallen, and even his school attendance. For months, he had skipped sleep, missed eating, ending up a physical and mental wreck! This was a shock to his parents, all the while wondering why teachers gave the projects at the end of the year?
Sonu’s parents had been summoned to school for this shocker; they are now in despair and regretted not monitoring his nightly activities online. After all, they had assumed that Sonu was working on team projects one after the other to complete his coursework. They hadn’t even realized that Sonu was lying to them about the project work while he was getting addicted to PUBG and other games. Now, they were on the way to Rehab for their Internet-addicted child. This should never happen to any child, nor any parent!
BIG CONCERN FOR PARENTS
In a survey I conducted before I started this blog, 66% of the parents said they were concerned about their child’s overuse of mobile phones, tablets, and other gadgets, sacrificing at least their social life. This has only been exacerbated by the lockdown and isolation…even online classes. In another survey by Norton, 43% of parents across Europe report a similar struggle. They are setting Screen Time Limits, without much success, as are we have all done, with daily frustrations.
Experts that I spoke to, emphasized that the only way to avoid such stories becoming widespread is to teach children to become responsible for their own Time, their own Life. This can grow with responsibility for their studies in young children, for their games, for their friends, as they grow up. As teenagers, they are responsible for:
Physical well-being (diet, sports),
And that all these aspects of their Time, are to be balanced. Just like we say, 5 different fruits per day; or being practical, a week; they have to ensure 5 different hats a week!
Many experts also emphasized that it is important to get children into a habit or routine which regularly includes:
b) Community Activities,
c) Even Spiritual/ Religious
d) Cultural activities.
For younger children, implementation of a daily schedule – say, 8 to 9 pm being Homework time, 6 to 7 pm being Playtime, and so on- would give them a structure and make them responsible for their time. For older children, it is enough to let them know that between 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., we all will do our quiet Homework and get help from each other to complete our respective Homework. For example, they can ask us, while parents are paying off bills, writing personal emails, taking care of Twitter accounts, reading or writing our blogs. This can happen in a shared study room and they know that we are available for homework help. Homework time can end with writing the diary or journal, which preferably would be a physical diary or an audio journal.
RESPONSIBILITY IS A JOURNEY
Ralph Waldo Emerson has rightly said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” The habit of responsibility can be introduced step by step. In their formative years, children can be made responsible for making their beds, tidying their room, carrying vessels to the sink after every meal. As they grow, they can be given morning chores to lighten the parents’ morning burdens.
THE IDEA IS TO TREAT ALL CHORES AS A PROCESS OF GROWING UP AND LEARNING, NOT AS A WORK. AS A JOURNEY NOT A DESTINATION.
Children grow up wanting to be more independent. At such a stage they can even be encouraged to be assigned the laundry once a week or doing the dishes after a meal. If there are grandparents in the same town, It is a good routine to go and meet them every Sunday. Older children can be entrusted checking on them on weekdays, maybe staying on with them overnight. Nothing beats taking care of a few plants or a pet, because that involves taking responsibility for life and that means doing things for every meal every day. When the child is not able to complete that work, he or she learns to delegate the work to somebody else to be done without fail. For taking responsibility, that kind of training is unmatched.
The advantage of treating study and chores as a process is that any change or failure is not a dramatic event. So they know that correction is possible and they don’t give up. Also, it doesn’t make studying a grudging task, a necessary evil to get certain marks in an exam. It is important to show interest in the child’s learning activities, as the child recalls what was taught that day in class. Discussion every day about what was taught that day with the parent or brother-sister can help collect insights on how it applies in real life. Some discussion, which will help their brain register that piece of learning in an interesting manner.
Another secret of success in learning is “Chunking” parts of a large chapter to manage to learn. “Chunking” a large chapter with breaks helps the child manage his learning, without getting overwhelmed. It helps even through the process of categorizing/prioritizing any task. Even parents, by categorizing/prioritizing tasks, make it more manageable, more doable. Making timetable and task lists rank high under chunking down or categorizing tasks or chores.
We can introduce this concept with a monthly calendar, where the child can make sure that all their notes are complete within that month, or they can complete revising every subject once every month. Some parents may find that it is better to move from a daily calendar to a weekly calendar to a monthly calendar one after the other. This can be good training to look at how things add up or to go from the big picture to details, which is a higher-order cognitive skill. This can be achieved naturally without pain.
LEARNING FOR THE LOVE OF LEARNING
Just like a singer sings for the sake of pleasure and moves from simple compositions to more intricate ones, we can channel children to ask detailed questions, ask why, and kindle their curiosity so that they learn new things, new details or even trivia about the subject taught on that day. By being interactive at home and in school we are making the process less boring, engaging, motivating. At certain stages, children may get tired of parents’ engagement; it is here that your friends as mentors come in handy. Reciprocally, we can mentor other children too. Or maybe simply asking the child to visit or write to subject specialists among your friends or family. For example, if the child has a question in mathematics, it is a good practice in their pre-teens to encourage them to go ask Dr. Sharma from the neighborhood or Faisal mama. I can already see how this improves the child’s social skills as well. Additionally, when the child writes an email explaining his question, he is getting a lesson in clarity of writing clarity.
One Stanford University study concluded that children who are praised for their effort and not necessarily for the results, work harder; and what’s more, did not give up easily when they came across difficult tasks. So let’s praise our children more generously, making sure we are encouraging initiative, effort, hard work, trying, reaching out, asking for feedback, not getting discouraged, persistent, learning from mistakes, even moving on. These also study skills nay, life skills.
At this point, I would like to introduce the concept of the Eight bits of Intelligence, which was explained by Howard Gardner. He advocated that we use, not one or two but 8 or even more types of intelligence that a child or even an adult possesses; some in large quantities, others in lesser quantities. So the idea is to strengthen the intelligence that we are strong in and work on intelligence that we are not so strong in.
TREATING THE CHILD AS A WHOLE PERSON IN PROGRESS, WHO NEEDS TO GROW IN ALL AREAS OF THE PERSON.
Photo courtesy: Brian Jackson
THE EIGHT intelligences to be developed as a whole person before adulthood are:
1. Linguistic Intelligence (“word smart”)- Children who are strong in linguistic intelligence use higher vocabulary play on words enjoy reading and talking. they are good communicators. children can be encouraged to improve on linguistic intelligence through collecting jokes, telling jokes, writing jokes. reading helps improve linguistic intelligence when the child tells the story of another favorite character or why we liked or did not like the storybook. journaling for writing Diaries is another way to strengthen linguistic intelligence.
2. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”) – children who are strong in logical intelligence give good reasons and connect causes and effects sequence of events and so on. children can be encouraged to read numbers, understand patterns, add them, compare them and simple mental maths whenever they go out.
3. Visual-Spatial Intelligence (“picture smart”)- Pipli intelligent children Are good at make-believe make-up stories to enjoy drawing and painting. in fact there are few children who are not like that. children can be channelized to use crayon Paints clay papercraft collages even take pictures photography to explain using maps. for studies making mind maps going from simple ll hand-drawn flowcharts to using mind mapping applications is an Interesting Journey. similarly using maps physically or using Google Maps while planning a journey is interesting to. Writing investigative stories related to a fictitious City is a good idea. the child can make the story more and more complicated throughout the year.
4. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (“body smart”)- dances, children interested in sports martial arts, and so on are using kinesthetic intelligence regularly. to improve kinesthetic intelligence among less active children I can be e encouraged to do oo mimes, dumb charades, role-play games, create skits. These activities when played at home regularly can be fun-filled family events. what fun if the children are allowed to organize such an evening with decorations done by the children and their friends. and innovation that can be added is decorations from waste material found in the homes.
5. Musical Intelligence (“music smart”)- I know parents who encourage children to mimic the sounds of birds and animals, either as it is or as part of self-made stories. It would be fun to sing-along with rhymes from various countries. various musical tools available online young children can karaoke or recreate popular music. attending classical music lessons is great training for children who are talented. discipline and attention to detail that classical music teachers insist on Would last a lifetime. thus trained students can compose and perform professionally.
6. Interpersonal Intelligence (“people smart”)- Many young children love to play with their friends and other children. they may learn to share bae feelings, their concerns, their fear with others. As they encounter older children, difficult children, adults, and uncomfortable situations, they grow up to learn from interactions and improve their interpersonal intelligence. It is helpful to introduce older children to group projects which are fun and later graduate to them moving into larger and larger groups, even community work, and social work with unknown less fortunate people. introducing admirable mentors at this stage will take their interpersonal skills to another level.
7. Intrapersonal Intelligence (“self smart”)- introducing self-awareness since childhood can be rewarding for those who are introverted. writing a journal or diary with reflections on the day’s events and people- interactions can be introduced early on. Happy Journal can be used to record happy moments of the day. Learning Journal can record all the learnings from school from home from other interactions. I would even introduce a gratitude journal in which children can thank all the people who have helped us during the day or week. These journals can be very beneficial in preventing mental health issues.
8. We will continue to discuss Naturalist Intelligence and other intelligence In the forthcoming issues of this blog.
Just for now, let’s make plans to introduce all of this intelligence in a child’s week if not every day. After all, we want the child to develop its full potential and, at the same time, enjoy each day. Let us treat our children and each other adults as whole persons. Not as a project or an event but as whole individuals every day. We have seen how we can make that happen. I would welcome you to share your experiences when you do any activities that address different parts of your WHOLE CHILD. We can curate all of them for other parents who have less time to plan such activities for their children.