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Parents: enablers of child focus

+2 votes

Reema is one of the many mothers who is facing trouble in making her son sit down and engaging him in one activity or study. He just keeps hopping on from one thing to another and as a result, his room is a box of unfinished activities, games, books, drawings etc. Reema often wonders what it would take to make her son complete at least one task. This is not just Reema’s story. Many parents like her often struggle to build on their child’s attention span to finish a task, read a short story from beginning to end or even focus on an activity at school.

Children get used to a routine if set from the beginning. Routines result in habit formation, which ultimately makes the task less daunting. It also removes the fear of the unknown, enabling a child to feel a sense of security. For example, if a child knows that s/he has to study from 6 to 7 pm everyday, s/he will be mentally prepared for it. In addition to this, a developmentally appropriate time period must be allotted for the task so that the child gets used to being able to complete this work within the stipulated time. This will also help in streamlining his or her thought process and staying focussed.

Build reading habits

However busy you may be, take time out to narrate age-appropriate stories to your child. Establish a reading routine, a specified reading time. It may be just before sleeping or after returning from school, as per the parent’s and child’s convenience. Read aloud regularly, even to older kids. Reading exposes the child to good literature, improves their vocabulary and understanding of structuring sentences.

Stay on a task

Children need to be kept motivated and the way to do this is to encourage, gently coax and urge them to complete the task in hand. If one technique isn’t working, help them with new techniques of doing the assigned task. Cheer them to take pride in their work and help them fortify their strengths and work on their weaknesses. Sometimes the reward system works to motivate children to concentrate and finish the entrusted task.

Delayed gratification

It is good to build skills of delayed gratification among children at an early age. It allows them to understand that sometimes wait is good and it is okay to go through a little difficulty or restraint in order to feel really happy or get a sense of accomplishment later or perhaps for longer.

The power of yet

Parents should help their children believe in the power of ‘yet,’ i.e. the never-ending belief in the fact that things will work out, and that giving up is not an option as a brighter future is yet to come. Often, this seems difficult to explain to children as they are restless and not determined enough.

Make learning fun

It is important to make reading and learning time fun for the child, and not just the mundane task of the teacher. So, if you are trying to teach your little one to identify numbers, then, instead of just restricting it to the textbooks, you can try reciting rhymes and songs about numbers. Floor games like hopscotch can be a fun and effective way too. While at the grocery store, you can ask your child to read out prices and quantities to you. This way while the learning outcomes are achieved, the fun factor is also maintained.

Learning beyond home

Don’t let learning be restricted to the study room in your house. Let it be a continuous process for the child, extending beyond just school and home. So, the next time you are in the park with your child, challenge him or her to identify all red-coloured objects or all objects which begin with the letter ‘O’ in a stipulated time frame. This way, while the concepts of letter and colour recognition become clearer to the child, education is also made much more fun and practical.

Therefore, it is crucial to be positive role models for children. They should take an active interest in understanding their strengths and challenges. This way, they can empower their children with the required knowledge, strategies, and skills to take charge of their own educational journey.

(The author is content expert, Sesame Workshop India)

posted Jun 1, 2017 by Krinz Kiran

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+3 votes

One of the challenges for parents with a gifted child is to encourage them to develop a range of interest outside the academic sphere that not only rounds them out but stops them from being isolated from their peers.                    Gifted children are a diverse group of kids who are talented in specific areas such as mathematics, language, sport or music. Some gifted kids are multi-talented excelling in a variety of areas.

Gifted children tend to be passionate and single-minded about their interests focusing their energy on the topics that absorb them, often to the exclusion of other activities.                                                                                      Just as all children need to have a balanced diet to remain in good health they need a balance between work and play to make sure they develop good social networks and maintain emotional health. That means that parents need to guide these children towards leisure-time options that they wouldn’t normally consider.

Work From Strengths

One way to encourage a gifted child to be more well-rounded is to get them to lead with their strengths. In other words, it maybe that a computer whiz meets up with other like-minded souls but extend the meetings to activities away from the computer. Or an artistic child can be encouraged to develop her literacy skills by adding simple stories to their illustrations.

The Courage To Be Imperfect

Gifted children are often low risk-takers in areas or endeavors that are not their passions or strengths. Used to automatically excelling they fear doing things poorly, so exceptionally capable children can be reluctant to attempt unknown or different tasks.

Parents Can Push Too Hard

Some gifted young children slow down their learning when they start school as they focus their time and energy on making friends. In terms of fitting in to social settings this is essential however parents who are proud of their child’s achievements can become quite anxious at this apparent shift in interest away from learning.

Making Friends

One of the most difficult tasks for a parent is to engineer circumstances so that children can make friends. Some children make friends naturally while others can be slow to warm up around their peers.

Being Part Of The Family

Family life can be a great leveler for gifted children. A sibling can bring a talented child back to earth, letting them know that they may be a star at school or in sport but their talent pulls no rank at home. Jobs need to be done, games can played and big heads can be easily deflated.

A Well-Rounded Young Person

Talented kids can become self-absorbed in their interests and passions to the detriment of developing broader interests and in some cases social interactions. With a little coaching and prompting parents can help children achieve balance in their lives so that they don’t become isolated and rely on a narrow set of interests for their identity and self esteem.

+1 vote


Photo Source:  The Gottman Institute

By: Angela Pruess

At any given time, you’ll find four or more parenting books on my Amazon wish list, a few by my nightstand, and an email inbox chock full of insightful parenting theories and approaches.

Granted, child development is my career, but I speak with plenty of parents in my practice who find themselves in similar circumstances. With information around every corner and our culture projecting constant messages (many times contradictory) regarding how we should raise our kids, feeling like a confident and intentional parent can seem out of reach many days.

In my 12 years as a family therapist, I’ve seen many well-intentioned parents mistakenly employing strategies that aren’t meeting the emotional or developmental needs of their children or families. I’ve also observed an increasing number of parents who are successfully mapping out new and healthier ways of raising children.

These insights, collected over time and gleaned from experience, parallel what we know from current brain and behavioral research about what kind of parenting is most likely to contribute to the healthy development of children.

1. Know that kids will act like kids.

Often parents forget that children learn by screwing up. Making mistakes. Behaving immaturely. The “magic” happens when a supportive caregiver steps in to steer them in the right direction. Parents get frustrated and impatient, becoming annoyed with whininess and “back talk” when really this is how kids are wired.

The part of the brain responsible for reason, logic, and impulse control is not fully developed until a person reaches their early 20’s.

Immature behavior is normal for immature human beings with immature brains.

This is a scientific reality that helps us to be patient and supportive in order to guide our children when they struggle.

2. Set limits with respect, not criticism.

Due to the fact that our kids need to learn literally everything about the world from us, they will require many limits throughout their day. Without proper limits in their environment, kids will feel anxious and out of control.

Limits can be delivered in the form of criticism and shaming, or they can be communicated in a firm but respectful way. Think about how you appreciate being spoken to at work and go from there.

3. Be aware of developmental stages.

Have you ever questioned where your easy-going toddler disappeared to as they were suddenly screaming bloody murder while getting dropped off at daycare? Hello separation anxiety!

There are literally hundreds of very normal, very healthy transitions kids go through to become adults. Being aware of these puts their puzzling behaviors into context, and increases the odds of reacting to them accurately and supportively.

4. Know your child’s temperament and personality.

It seems pretty obvious, but if we are in tune with the characteristics that make our child unique, we will have a better understanding of when they may need additional support, and when and where they will thrive.

Once you know the basics of what makes your child tick, many important areas become much easier to navigate, such as pinpointing the best environment for homework, or understanding why your daughter needs to come home from overnight summer camp.

5. Give your child plenty of unstructured play time.

Unless you studied play therapy in school, most adults will never fully understand and appreciate the power of play.

Play is how kids learn all the things and develop all the stuff. This means leaving time each day for straight-up unstructured, kid-controlled, exploration of the world kind of play.

6. Know when to talk and when to listen.

Kids learn to be pretty good problem solvers if we let them. Because we love the life out of them and want them to succeed, it’s hard not to jump in and solve problems for them by virtue of lecture or criticism.

If parents more often held their tongues and waited it out, they’d be shocked at how often their children can successfully reach their own conclusions. Being heard is powerfully therapeutic, and it allows us to think things through and reach a solution.

Kids want and need to be heard, and feel understood. Just like the rest of us.

7. Have an identity outside of your child.

Many of us often claim that our children are our world, and this is certainly true in our hearts. In terms of daily life however, parents need to have more. We need to nurture the friendships, passions and hobbies that make us who we are as individuals.

Doing this can feel like a battle, as our protective anxieties try to convince us our children can’t be without us, and also that we can’t be without them. But we can be, and need to be, in order to stay sane, and avoid saddling our kids with the task of meeting all of our emotional needs.

8. Understand that actions speak louder than words.

The way you interact with your child and live your life will be your child’s greatest teacher. Kids are incredibly observant and way more intuitive than we give them credit for. They are always watching.

This can be slightly inconvenient for parents, but if we’re able to keep it in mind, knowing our children are watching our actions will not only teach them how to behave, but it will make us better people.

9. Recognize that connection, fun, and creativity are the best ways to promote positive behaviors and a cooperative attitude.

Fear and control aren’t effective long-term teachers for our kids. While those dynamics may appear effective in the short-term, they won’t equip our kids with a strong moral compass, or effective problem-solving skills.
If our child feels valued as a person based on our interactions with them, they will naturallylearn to value others and have the confidence to make good choices.

10. Set the overall goal to shape a child’s heart and not just their behavior.

We often get the impression from the world around us that the goal of parenting is to produce a compliant, well-behaved child. While these are certainly desirable qualities for most parents, they are not core qualities that contribute to a happy and healthy human.

Helping our children understand the importance of their thoughts and emotions gives them coping and relationship skills. Skills that will protect and guide them throughout their lives.

Changing our parenting habits and styles is never easy, but if it’s truly in the best interest of our children, it’ll always be worth it.

+1 vote


Photo Source: PQ

By Peace Quarters



Be there. Not just physically, but also emotionally. Listening to your child and making conversations helps you to bond with each other. Also, turn off all the electronics and give them your time without any disturbance. Doing things together will teach your child to be a more caring and considerate person.

Practical things you can do:

  • Play their favorite game together
  • Read them a book
  • Ask them questions about their day


Children learn from things they see and experience. Many parents may not notice how much of their behavior young kids see and understand. This is why you should think about your words and actions. When you make mistakes, admit them and apologize. Be the example you want your child to become.

Another important thing is respect, which can only be earned. So always be honest, show that you are a human too and people make mistakes. Also, try to see everything as a lesson and a chance to grow and become a better person. Teach this to your child as well.

Practical things you can do:

  • Always admit your mistakes and apologize for them
  • Talk about problems and finding solutions
  • Find time to take care of yourself, only then you can take care of others


It is important that your child communicates with others and learns to share in the young age. Taking other peoples’ feelings in consideration and being selfless is an essential feature and can become beneficial in the future.

The Harvard study found that caring about others is as important as one’s happiness. This is something that parents need to teach their children consistently because sometimes the message is not received quickly.

As a parent, you must always be an example. This means taking responsibility and doing the right thing (even when it is not the most convenient thing to do). Be a role model and confirm your words with your actions. Remind them, that others are counting on them and it is not nice to let people down.

Practical things you can do:

  • Teach them every day to be kind
  • Make them take responsibility for their actions and stick to their commitments. Do not just let them quit a sport or end a friendship. It is always easier to just give up, but it is not always the right thing to do.



Teach them to appreciate people and things in their life. Tell them about the history and trying times, so they would understand how lucky they are to live in this time with plenty of opportunities. Teach them not to take their life and possibilities for granted.

The study has shown, that people, who practice gratitude in their everyday lives, are more helpful, generous, compassionate and forgiving. What is most important – they are more happy and healthy. So it is a key feature in a real person.

Practical things you can do:

  • Remind your child to be grateful in everyday life
  • Teach them to show respect and appreciation for people (family members, teachers, neighbors) in their lives
  • Be the role model and do not take individuals and things in your life for granted


It is a commonly known fact that children care about a small circle of family and friends. This is normal, but the difficult challenge is to teach them to empathize with people outside their circle.

Children need to learn that it all starts with people and that they can make a big difference in someone’s life. So it is important to show kindness towards people you do not know so well (new kid in class, the shopkeeper, the cleaning lady).

The Harvard study suggested that children should learn to zoom in and listen carefully to those, who are part of their inner circle but also to zoom out and take in consideration the bigger range of people they interact with on a daily basis.

Practical things you can do:

  • Teach your child empathy – teach them to comfort a crying kid and reach out to a new classmate
  • Have conversations about different people and their lives. Talk about people with different religions, beliefs, communities, and countries
  • Teach them not to have prejudices and to show kindness to people around them
+2 votes


Photo Source: Psychology Today

By- Victoria L. Dunckley M.D.

Being strict about your own screen-time greatly improves the odds that you’ll be able to manage your children’s screen time in a mindful manner. Further, if you’re considering doing a 4-week electronic fast first to help reset your child’s nervous system (which I recommend), it’ll help you implement the fast successfully, plus give you a leg up on healthy screen management afterwards. Why? Because in addition to setting a good example, you will feel better, function better, and sleep better.  

Parenting Stress and Electronic Media Use

Child rearing is harder and more complex than ever these days, and parenting a child who’s experiencing mental health, learning or behavior issues can produce stress that’s “off the charts.” Ask yourself if you have a tendency to use a mobile device throughout the day or while in bed at night as a means to escape from that stress. The activities may seem innocent enough, like reading on a Kindle, sharing funny family pictures on Facebook, or reading blog posts about parenting. But, as with children, interactive screen-time affects an adult’s frontal lobe, too, so even moderate but daily use can cause a parent to become disorganized, exhibit poor impulse control, lack self-discipline, and have trouble following through on goals—including establishing healthy screen limits. Screen-time also affects an adult’s body clock, melatonin levels, and physical health. And just as with children, these effects are more likely to occur if a parent is stressed, not sleepingwell, or has difficulty in those areas to begin with.

Thus, there are numerous reasons to cut back. In fact, doing the electronic fast or committing to limits with your child can be a powerful healing experience for the entire family.

Seven reasons why it’s worthwhile for parents themselves to put down those devices:

1You’ll model good screen habits. Parents’ own screen habits closely correlate to their children’s, and joining in on a fast or new limits with your child helps build mutual respect. This also reinforces the message that a screen fast or limits are not a punishment, but something the whole family is working on to be happier and healthier.

2. You’ll be more aware. Screen-time is distracting, and it diminishes how in touch we are with our environment. If doing the fast, you’ll be more aware of how your children are doing during the fast and more vigilant about any attempts they make to skirt the ban. If simply cutting back, you’re more likely to notice patterns of behavior that occur with and without the presence of screens.

3. Your executive functioning will be enhanced. Everyone’s frontal lobe functions better with less screen-time, so planning and problem-solving will come more easily. You’ll also be more creative, which makes family activities and one-on-one time more enjoyable — for you and your child.

4. You’ll be much more likely to follow through on what you said you would do. Whether that means actually finishing the fast or eliminating screens during the school week, improved frontal lobe function helps us sustain efforts and be self-disciplined.  It builds “grit.”

5. You’ll be more present and emotionally attuned. Your in-the-moment awareness and sense of emotional connection will be enhanced — and your child will notice.  Kids and teens often complain that they feel ignored by device-using parents even when they’re in the same room. Indeed, studies show spending time together and healthy attachment to parents helps protect children against technology overuse and addiction.  

6. You’ll be more rested. Reducing your own levels of hyper arousal will help you sleep more deeply, improve your ability to tolerate frustration, and give you more energy. You’ll also be less likely to give in when your child attempts to wear you down or argue about screen limits.

7. You may see fewer tantrums in general.  While screen time itself can precipitate tantrums and meltdowns (due to creating a hyperaroused and overstimulated nervous system), a recent study found that high parental device use was associated with more behaviour issues in children. This finding is in line with what we already know about development: that emotional resonance, eye contact, and face-to-face interaction with a parent helps regulate a child’s nervous system and eventually helps teach the child how to self-soothe.  This benefit seems to be separate from and in addition to all the physiological changes that result in improved behaviour from removal of all that stimulation.

Guidelines for Mindful Screen Limits for Parents

Read More

+2 votes

When a 15-day-old baby, who had a bout of mild diarrhoea and vomiting became severely dehydrated, the parents, though worried, did not sense something could be seriously wrong. However, they were shocked when their doctor diagnosed the baby with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH).

CAH is an inherited disorder that affects the adrenal glands where the glands cannot produce cortisol and aldosterone, and instead produce an unwanted excess amount of androgens.

A child with CAH lacks enzymes the adrenal glands use to produce hormones that help regulate metabolism, the immune system, blood pressure, and other essential functions. Parents with children suffering from it often have great difficulty in the upbringing of the child, including treatment, getting school admission and other support issues.

For the first time, Shyam Nair and Deepa Kannan, parents of a CAH child, have started a support group called ‘CAH Support India’ ( www.cahindia,org ) involving a community of parents, grandparents and caregivers of CAH children. The International Coalition for Endocrine Patient Support Organisations worldwide has listed this support group as the first such group for endocrine disorders in India.

The couple has also created a closed Facebook group for parents and endocrinologists and a Facebook page called Omkar’s journey with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia to chronicle all possible events in the life of a child with CAH . The link is

Shaila S. Bhattacharyya, paediatric endocrinologist at Manipal Hospitals, who is also part of the support group, said: “A CAH child gets severely dehydrated even with a mild episode of diarrhoea and needs hospitalisation, which is stressful both for the child and the caregivers.”

Although about one in 10,000 children are born with CAH, awareness about the condition is low. It is either not detected early or is misdiagnosed and turns fatal in most children within months of their birth. A neonatal hormone test 17-OHP should be done to screen for CAH in children before symptoms appear. “However, not all hospitals do this test,” the doctor added.

Ms. Deepa Kannan, a yoga teacher, said she and her husband are trying to spread awareness about the condition, which is not known even in educated circles. “Having experienced the challenges in bringing up our child, who is seven years old now, our aim is to support parents and help them in bringing up their children,” she told The Hindu.

Narrating how difficult it is for CAH children to get admission in regular schools as the child needs continuous monitoring, she said the aim of the support group is to change this mindset of schools. “Such discrimination towards children for no fault of theirs is unfair,” she said.