Sunday, 25 November 2018

Sleeping with the Baby

I always end up on the corner in the morning even when I sleep in the middle at night.” I heard an 8 year old kid telling her friend one day in the park.

Making the child sleep alone in her room has been a very difficult task of my parenting experience. Somehow I was unable to do it for a long time as my daughter coaxed both of us into letting her sleep with us on the pretext of her room being colder, not so interesting and frightening, at times. Also, till date she insists on sleeping in the middle whenever she would sleep with us. I kept on telling her stories from my childhood about how I and my sister were given two separate beds to sleep in from very early age. We used to weave stories with the shadows created by the torch light flashed under the blanket; sometimes it was the pleasure of reading a Malory Towers episode which we couldn’t keep down till we reached the end; at others it was some adult movie which our parents didn’t want to see late at night. All kinds of fun we did while sleeping on separate beds in the small room next to our parents’ bedroom.

Gradually I managed to make her agree to sleep alone in her own room. In Indian metro cities many households may not permit the parents to provide their kids with the luxury of a separate room. This space constraint also becomes a big reason for all the family members especially the kids and the married couples to sleep in the same room or worse in the same bed for a long time. In such cases, the permanent arrangement is done based on the genders distinction meaning the girls sleep with the grandmother or the mother while the boys sleep with their fathers in the courtyards or balconies extended as the terraces. In colder regions like the North and the North east, the whole family gathers around the warm blowers or heaters at night.

Such arrangements force the children to witness the sexual intercourse between the parents frequently from an early age. At times, they also start to imbibe the same sexual habits as that of their parents. In some odd cases, when the parents are not in favour of doing it while the children are around, it leads to a feeling of dissatisfaction creeping into the marriage and the family relationships. Either the couple finds a way outside the house to satisfy its needs or they divulge into other ways to satisfy their interests. In both the cases, the family life does get disturbed. It may not lead to immediate or extreme measures such as divorce or separation; but the physical attraction between the parents does start to wither. There are some such households too where physical proximity is highly promoted and hence the whole family sleeps in one room and an extended bed. Even if the children yearn for their own space; sometimes the mothers find it difficult to wean the children.

Letting the children sleep alone in their own spaces does have its own advantages. Most important, child learns to respect its own body. The importance of privacy, independence and courage also gets imbibed in due course of time. The habit of sleeping alone can be initiated through some simple daily routines which parents can follow as a ritual when the children start going to a play school or nursery.
Try to finish the homework, play and supper by an early hour in the evening. After that ask the children to brush and change into clean night clothes and tuck them into the bed. Sit next to them with their favourite story books and read aloud a story to them. While you read the story try to talk to them about whatever happened that day. Encourage them to plan about what will happen tomorrow in their school or at home. Slowly ask them to close their eyes and just listen to the story you are reading. If they are younger and eager, sing them some lullabies.  These will help them to get into a peaceful sleep without feeling anxious or scared. As the routine sets, replace the read aloud stories with other methods such as some audio-video animations or lullabies. Remember this time of the day should be the happiest yet less active time they spend with you. You can take some help of nice children centric d├ęcor for the room, such as cartoon featured night lamps, bunker beds or rugs and some stars shining on the walls.

The whole exercise may not last for more than 15-20 minutes in the beginning and come down to 5-10 minutes as they grow up but the bond you create during this time will be what the child will carry on for the lifetime. 

And don’t forget to say
“Good Nite! No bed bugs bite!” 

Happy Parenting!

Monday, 19 November 2018

Welcome OUR Baby

New Baby coming home is not such a looked forward to moment while you already have one kid waiting for you at home. Sometimes, the elder child doesn’t actually look forward to sharing its room, clothes or toys with another baby, even if it is going to be its own sibling. When my daughter was a young toddler, she would not like to sit in my lap much. But the minute she saw her cousin sitting comfortably on my lap, she used to jump up to come sit on my lap. Sometimes, there used to be fierce fights between them before she finally agreed to let the other kids to sit on my lap.  

As a parent you have a major role to play in shaping the behaviour of your children. Your actions can be the cause of a lifelong rivalry or relationship between the two. The mother’s second pregnancy will provide the parents considerable time which can be spent on preparing the elder child to welcome the baby. Once the mother’s pregnancy starts to show, you need to involve the elder child in the preparations related to the new baby. Let him/her feel the baby moving and bring him/her with you for checkups so s/he can hear the heartbeat and see what happens during medical check-ups. 

Here are some more tips to help the elder one accept the new baby:

     1.     Include the elder kid in preparations for the baby’s arrival. S/he can help you sort the used clothes, clean the crib, bathtub, baby chairs and so on.
    2.     Let the elder one think of some names s/he will call the new baby. Share your experiences of his/her birth with the baby so that it feels connected to you.
    3.     After the birth of the baby, call the baby ‘our baby’ for some time so that the elder one feels attached to the new arrival in the family.
    4.     Give a present to the elder one from the new baby. And encourage him/her to give a gift to the baby too.
    5.     If the elder baby comes to visit you in the hospital, keep yourself free so that you hold him/her in your open arms and then together hold the new baby in your lap/hand.
    6.     Ask other visitors to pay attention to your elder one when they come to meet you in the hospital. Allow him/her to tell them about what s/he feels about the baby.
    7.     Once you go back home ask your elder one to help you in changing the baby’s diapers/clothes and bathing the baby and such other interesting things.
    8.     Encourage the elder one to be quiet while the younger one is sleeping. Do not shout at him/her unnecessarily. Instead try to make him/her your ally in taking care of the new one.
     9.     Try to cook food that the elder one likes to eat and try to be around when s/he goes or comes back from school.  
    10.  Assign the elder one with the task of keeping a diary to document the younger one’s growth. Take some good selfies and group pictures of the two doing different things together.

Still there will be demanding times when you will not be able to take care or listen to the elder one’s gibberish once in a while. Also, there will be moments when the elder one will not behave responsibly because finally even s/he is a kid. So do not get too harsh with the elder one because jealousy can change people very fast and the jealous child can hurt a new baby without really meaning to do so. Watch for the pangs of jealousy closely.

Encourage the child to master simple daily tasks such as dressing him/herself, brushing teeth or combing hair. S/he will be proud and happy about the new found independence and mastery. This will give you more time to look after the younger one. If s/he is still extra-clingy, take him/her with you wherever you go and give him/her extra cuddles, hugs, kisses to increase his/her feelings of security.

Whenever the child wants to talk to you, give him/her complete attention. Remember s/he needs to feel that s/he is the most important person for you in addition to the new baby. Do not be afraid to say NO if it is necessary. S/he needs to know the new boundaries or limitations. If you feel you are about to explode in anger over something the elder one did to irritate/trouble the younger one, stop immediately. Take two deep breaths then call the elder one and talk to him/her when you are feeling calmer. If you feel like punishing the elder one, do it only after you make him/her realise that it was his/her fault and could have been avoided.

Remember communicate with your heart when you speak to your child and his/her heart will respond.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Using Home Remedies for curing common ailments in Kids

Festivals mean lot of extra work for mothers: extra cleaning, extra cooking and extra shopping. Although all these extras do not bother you much till the time there is not an extra cough or cold irritating your young ones. Many times we neglect the signs of low immunity in our children while we are busy preparing for the festivities. 

Sometimes even a simple romantic drive through the woods or the mountains can become irritating if your bundle of joy doesn’t sleep, eat or take the feed because of running nose, cough or cold. And what worsens your agony is that you may find Maggi in remote villages but a doctor (forget a child specialist) may not be seen/heard for miles together. 

Has this happened to you anytime?
 For all those first time parents working in different cities, this situation can be normal and at times, it really spoils your much looked forward to festivals or holidays. It happened with me too. And that was when I started respecting my Nanima Ka Batua- a small purse kept by my Grandma with her always which was full of herbs, home-made concoctions and sweet nibbles. As a young mother, she always advised me to try home remedies to cure any common ailments in my kids. I thought with the onset of so much of pollution talk related to festivals and winters; discussion on using home remedies as against the alopathic antibiotics or medicines for curing the common ailments in kids would be an interesting read. 

Advantages of Using Home Remedies for curing common ailments in Kids

1.            A home remedy is anything that you can use at home and it doesn’t require a doctor’s
2.            A home remedy can be prepared from things available in your Kitchen cabinets such as a little mustard oil, garlic, ginger and such other items. So you have no doubts about the shelf life and expiry dates of the ingredients used.
3.            You are 100% sure that the ingredients used are safe, organic and fresh.
4.           There will be nil/ less side effects of using natural medicines created through home remedies as compared to alopathic medicines in babies.

Precautions while using Home Remedies for curing common ailments in kids

1.            Traditional home remedies have been used for generations which prove that they do work; otherwise people won’t be using them. But still, one needs to be careful when using any home remedy on your child because, there is always a first time.
2.            Your child might be allergic to some supplements, herbs or veggies as commonly used as honey, ginger or barley. So you need to be very careful and at times consult your doctor before you use any of these remedies.
3.            Sometimes, being a concerned parent, you may get alarmed too early and diagnose your child’s simple condition to be a major ailment. Remember: the whole aim of suggesting these home remedies is to enable you handle small emergencies and in fact, not let them become a serious ailment. But if you find nothing is working for your child, do not let it go on for long. Consult your doctor at the earliest.
4.            In case your child is suffering from any other allergy or ailment and taking prescribed medicine on a daily basis for it, do share with your doctor the information about these home remedies that you are giving your child for some other common ailment. For instance, if your child is asthmatic/diabetic and taking some regular medicines for it while having a congested chest; do consult the doctor about the home remedy you want to use to cure his/her chest congestion.
5.            And the most important precaution for any parent with a toddler: keep out any herb or organic roots/shoots from the reach of your toddler who would just love to grab and taste it. 

Herbs are cheaper than most of the drugs, they are easily available and in most of the cases they are just as effective and often safer. That’s why I as a parent would always recommend trying out these home remedies for curing common ailments in  kids before you take your child to the doctor for any strong medicines. Yes it is definitely important to talk to your doctor and clarify your doubts about your child’s health since every child is different and his/her body’s reactions would also be different. 

But what makes these home remedies a better option as compared to alopathic or homeopathic medicines is that they do not interfere with the defense mechanism of the child’s body and work towards building their immunity to fight external organisms. 

Still, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor and tell him about the home remedies you plan to start or have been giving your bundle of joy….

Happy Parenting!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Faceless Enemy

A survey conducted by Norton, an anti-malware software brand, says 52% of the children in India are victims of cyber crimes, online negative solutions including; gaming, watching porn videos, creative piracy and cyber bullying. Unfortunately, almost 84% of the parents in India said they did not think their children were misusing the internet. 70% of the children surveyed also mentioned that they tried to reach out to the parents and failed to make them empathise with the negative effects social media and other internet applications had on their minds.
Like it or not, our world, though much better for all our technological advancements, is facing an all new threat. Even now, as we push forward with new technological advantages, we are exposing ourselves to a faceless enemy who is not limited or restricted by space or time, but by network availability. Countries and Companies have Policies and Guidelines to guide persons’ behaviors and attitudes towards cyber-security and proper digital citizenship.  Still even they lose access to important files, have people hacking and stealing their digital data or even their complete network.  
So we as parents cannot stay away from this faceless enemy and wait for taking an action when our children fall prey to the internet and social media. A solution must be figured out now.  It is imperative that we take a proactive approach to dealing with this modern threat. In today’s column I will deal with the actions parents of adolescent children need to take to ensure correct use of social media and other digital applications. I will cover the actions required for other age groups in my subsequent articles.

In case of adolescent children, being observant doesn’t mean trespassing into their private space and doubting each and every action of theirs. Instead it means having full faith in the emotional stability of your children. Once you start observing them closely, you will be able to detect the signs of them being prey to any negative solutions on internet. 

But, if you observe these signs, do not jump to conclusions and start shouting on them or scolding them. Talk to them peacefully and assure them that they will not be punished if they reveal the truth. The issue can be sorted out sooner if the child can open up to you or any close sibling or relatives.

Some of the most prominent signs of your child being abused/abusing the internet in general or social media in particular are
    1.       Shows low self-esteem,
    2.      Makes excuses to stay absent from school or other classes
    3.      Avoids social events
    4.      Wants to remain in isolation
    5.      Loses weight, appetite to eat
    6.      Becomes too cautious about physical appearance, clothing and make-up
    7.      Ready to change appearance to try to fit in a peer group
    8.      Dresses inappropriately to hide marks of physical abuse or self-harm
    9.      Has frequent mood swings such as anger, crying spells, withdrawal
   10.   Lost in thoughts most of the times

Steps which you can take to protect your child from harming themselves 

.         1.      Be ready to talk to the child
      2.      Trust them
      3.      Emphasise and Assure digital safety at all costs
      4.      Respect their privacy
      5.      Encourage safe internet usage in your presence/absence
      6.      Make them aware of passwords, Anti-virus software and other digital safety measures.
      7.      Do not keep secrets within the family and encourage them too to share their password only with you/the family.
      8.      Mutually decide and limit the time spent on internet/ other digital devices.
      9.       Educate them about what actually is misuse of the internet or what can be the side effects of over- use of any technology.
    10.   Spend some time together digitally with your children and ensure inculcating the right cyber behaviour.

Not all children will show the same signs. Also, not all the steps enlisted here will lead to success. 

But one thing that will help you always is to remember that you are the parent and the captain of the ship when it comes to anything related to your family. 

Hence do not make excuses about your digital handicaps and try to learn how to access their accounts.  In olden days, the pen was considered to be mightier than the sword. Some of us felt, the gun is mightier than the pen, but the true king of the hill these days is the computer keyboard and the hacker behind it manipulating all those ones and zeroes to do his bidding.  In near future, the keyboard would be the single mightiest weapon on our beloved planet. We as parents need to equip ourselves with the right cyber behaviour so that we guard our children against the faceless Enemy. The sooner we accept it, the better equipped we would be to assist our children.
in case you feel the need at any times.
 Remember Parenting Pays Always!